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Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films (1955)

Georges Poujouly , Brigitte Fossey , Akira Kurosawa , Alfred Hitchcock  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Georges Poujouly, Brigitte Fossey, Silvia Pinal, Fernando Rey, Leon Niemczyk
  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa, Alfred Hitchcock, Andrzej Wajda, Anthony Asquith, Benjamin Christensen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English, French, Russian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 50
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: October 24, 2006
  • Run Time: 5347 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000I5YUE4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,826 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films is a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. Packaged in a heavy slipcase set (remember, lift with your legs, not your back), one volume contains the DVDs in sturdy cardboard pages; the other volume is a hardback book with introductory essays and essays about each of the films. Janus Films is the precursor to the Criterion Collection, and this set is far and away the most beautiful art object the company has ever created. The substantial and subdued packaging is meant to stand the test of time, as are the films immortalized within. From The Seventh Seal to Jules and Jim to M and Pygmalion and The 39 Steps, this exquisite set is the art house DVD release of 2006, if not the decade.

The 200-page book provides context for the films and is worth reading in its own right. Martin Scorcese offers a brief and celebratory introduction, reminiscing about the thrill of seeing the antiquated Janus Films logo when attending a movie in one of New York City's art house theaters. Film historian Peter Cowie's essay about the history of art house cinema in America casts light on how films by directors like Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman first found American audiences. These days it's easy to take for granted our access to films from around the globe, but in the early 20th century it was only due to the efforts of a passionate few that these great films found theatrical life in the United States. Many of these films, particularly those from Europe, boasted more liberal attitudes about such things as sex and war, facing the threat of censorship and hostility from Hollywood-fed audiences who weren't accustomed to considering films as works of art. Janus Films evolved as a way to bridge these cultural gaps, introducing Americans to foreign sensibilities and big-screen stories that transcended language.

What DVDs Are Included?
The DVDs presented represent the cream of the crop of the Janus Films catalog, and the best of the Criterion Collection's bar-setting technical sophistication. Six of the films are being debuted on DVD on the occasion of the set's release, though they may be released separately later. These include Fires on the Plain, The Fallen Idol, Pandora's Box, Le Jour Se Leve, Miss Julie, and Three Documentaries by Saul J. Turell. Fans of copious extra features should take note--the discs contain only the films themselves. Those wishing to dig into the two bonus discs of material offered with Criterion's latest release of Seven Samurai, say, won't find that opportunity here. As for the selection of films, cinephiles may get into arguments about what's included and what's not, but any film school student would be far ahead of the game by devouring these fifty films. The treasures are listed below. --Ryan Boudinot

THE 400 BLOWS (1959)
HÄXAN (1922)
IKIRU (1952)
M (1931)
IL POSTO (1961)
LA STRADA (1954)
THE 39 STEPS (1935)
UGETSU (1953)
UMBERTO D. (1952)

Product Description

50 Years, 50 Films

One Spectacular DVD Box Set Janus Films opened American viewers’ eyes to the pleasures of Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, and François Truffaut at the height of their artistic powers. Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this world-renowned distribution company with Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films, an expansive collectors’ box set featuring fifty classic films on DVD and a lavishly illustrated hardcover book that tells the story of Janus Films through an essay by film historian Peter Cowie, a tribute from Martin Scorsese, and notes on each of the fifty films.

• Eight Academy Awards

• Twenty-eight Academy Award nominations

• Two Palme d’or awards

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
212 of 228 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars remarkable November 1, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is certainly the most remarkable collection of films to come out in one DVD package. And I would really like to thank Criterion for overpricing their DVDs so much that I had very little overlap with my existing library, having passed on most of their editions of these films. Here are a few observations that might be of use to potential buyers:

1) the widescreen movies are anamorphic

2) Haxen is 104 min, substantially longer than the 77 min version that has shown on premium cable.

3) I compared the Janus versions of two films, Wages of Fear and Seven Samurai, with the Criterion versions I had. I expected them to be identical (figuring that Criterion probably did the work for Janus) but they were considerably different. In both cases, the Janus copies were amazingly superior: much better (and louder)sound, crisper images with fewer defects, much better definition in shadowy areas, and a much more stable image. I never realized how poor the Criterion prints were until I saw the comparison. It's amazing the psychological effect of all that. In both cases, I was strongly tempted to continue watching the whole film with Janus, and found the Criterion copy 'tiring'. The translations also differed, with Janus having fewer errors (e.g. Samurai's "the rice we're eating now" v.s. "the rice we're eating, how"). I cannot wait to watch the rest of these films.

3. I could detect no difference between Anchor Bay's and Janus's Kind Hearts and Coronets.

4. The print of Lady Vanishes is the clearest I've seen. The el cheapo Brentwood print, in their Hitchcock collection, is unwatchable.

5. The one really bad aspect of the collection is that the DVDs are wedged tightly into paper slots.
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78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is put out by Criterion November 7, 2006
Re: The previous reviewer's points: The product info is somewhat vague on this, but this set is put out by Criterion. As the comment on that review says, any differences vs. earlier Criterion releases are attributable to upgrades made in later editions. Seven Samurai and M have been upgraded since their original Criterion release, and there may be other cases among the films collected here. On another point, it's true that individual Criterion releases are expensive, but they usually include many extras of interest to cinephiles. If price is your main consideration, this package is a great way to get Criterion quality at a lower price per disc (although without the extras). I will be ordering one at some point, even though I already have about a dozen of the films, just because it looks to be a gorgeous package. FYI, there is a review in the NY Times today (11/7/2006) that provides some historical background on Janus and Criterion.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Special Features and Scratches February 4, 2007
I would like to notify everyone who got scared about this set when they heard the dvds came in outrageoulsy tight slots that either this has been changed, it never was true, or i have an exeptionally awsome set because mine is not that way at all. In my set every page of the DVD book has 4 dvds that are in slots that are not too tight or loose. You do not have to induvidually unwrap the dvds or anything, just open up the book, and pull a dvd out. I have been pulling these discs out and putting back in and have seen absolutely no damage done. Not one of the movies has skipped yet. I have seen no "flecks of paper" and none of my DVDs "felt like they were glued to the page" like -a movie fan's-. I strongly suggest everyone with a film appretiation to buy this set, even if you already have a few from the set. It is definatally worth it. And about the special features, I would like to inform anyone turned off by the fact that there are none that there is a 200 page book that comes with the set. That book has rare posters, photographs, the history of revolutionary JANUS and a page description of every film - the context of time and place the film came out, a little about the director and actors, the impact the film had, the meaning behind the film, etc. If that is not enough for you, then...sorry. I personally dont mind, considering the internet exists for any other information about the film I want to know.
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88 of 102 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WRETCHED sound makes DVD worth one star January 14, 2000
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Although I truly love the film (and the video tranfer is great), this DVD has the horrible 1930's recording of the soundtrack. Prokofiev's great score sounds like it is playing from an AM radio placed undera mattress. Unless you are truly wedded to DVD format, get the BMG video which includes an excellent re-recording of the score in modern stereo (along with a great video). We can only hope that the BMG version gets to DVD soon.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, bad DVD June 5, 2002
By Phil J
I have watched Alexander Nevsky more times than I've watched any other movie. It is a great movie, deserving 5 stars. This particular DVD, however, is the worst transfer to DVD that I have seen. At first I intended to watch it on my computer. The image was so jumpy I could not watch it more than a few minutes.
There are at least two versions of this movie with English subtitles on VHS. Both are worth watching. Some are older and have the "mistaken" music track. A new version was released in 1995 with new subtitles and a newly recorded score. There are editing changes in the 1995 version as well.
I see that there is a version of Alexander Nevsky that is part of a 3-dvd set.
But at this date (May, 2002) there doesn't seem to be a single dvd of Alexander Nevsky that is worth watching.
There are Russian versions without subtitles and a few versions with English subtitles. I hope someone does a good tranfer of at least ONE of the versions to a single DVD soon.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great old movie. Knowing the period you could see the Soviet preoccupation with the Germans.
Published 7 days ago by Brad Golding
3.0 out of 5 stars The film suffers from a much deteriorated sound track which ...
The film suffers from a much deteriorated sound track which seriously limits appreciation of the Prokofiev music. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Sentinel
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 1 month ago by John Lockinger
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Too limited in historical coverage.
Published 1 month ago by Gerald Hein
3.0 out of 5 stars Alexander Nevsky, who should watch it.
I consider this film an excellent material to study film art - editing, impatc of all visual and verbal components of film narrative. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dodona Kiziria
3.0 out of 5 stars Great film, but the DVD could be better
The movie "Alexander Nevsky" is rightfully called one of the classics of filmography. Unfortunately, this DVD could have been prepared a lot better. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic drama
I did not expect this to be as well made as it was. The special effects were very realistic for the time and the battle scenes were top notch. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Kerry Garrett
4.0 out of 5 stars came fast thanks
This is an old Russian film . It is entertaining . It does help if you understand the language. Thanks
Published 7 months ago by anthony
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic from the Soviet Union
I had watched this movie years ago and enjoyed it very much. Considering the subject, the amount of people used, and the time it was made, this is a classic!
Published 7 months ago by Tracker5usmc
5.0 out of 5 stars Janus films collection
Excellent, Great shape no damage and arrived intact and on time. Looking for this for years. This was given as a Christmas Gift. The recipient was overwhelmed.
Published 8 months ago by Skas5
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special features
Looks like these will be stripped-down versions of the original releases. Perhaps not even commentaries. Check out this discussion:
Oct 2, 2006 by Erik R. Andersen |  See all 2 posts
Essential Art House
See here:
or rather
for more details.
Oct 10, 2006 by jadow81 |  See all 2 posts
SUBTITLES ???? Be the first to reply
What's with the high prices? Be the first to reply
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