The Minimalists made this curious post which caught my eye, along with some pretty startling statements like “Are you one of those people who collects DVDs, proudly displaying your stockpile on a wall or shelf or special area designated for your dozens of favorite movies? Have you ever thought about why you own all those DVDs? Do you plan to rewatch the same movies three or four times? If so, we’d like to posit a solution: get a life.”
Now at the last count we had more DVDs in the house than we will probably ever have time to watch, and I doubt the collection will ever be ‘complete’. Many of these discs are favourite films or TV shows I have loved all my life – do I rewatch them? You bet. And even if I haven’t watched them for a while, I know they are there, and I see that as ‘a good thing’.
You hear of houses groaning to the rafters with books, and they are described as personal libraries. Why are plastic cases and their contents seen as ‘trash’? I will never be a minimalist, and my little sitting room with its TV, Sky+ box, DVD/HD set, and those thousands of titles, is my favourite place to relax. There are books in here, too, and a ghetto blaster tape/radio/CD player, half of my CD collection, a phone, and a lava lamp. There are soft toys, ceramic cats, paperweights, pictures on the walls (a Gone With The Wind poster, a Bonzo Dog print), and an antique mirror, postcards, photos, and a clock which gently ticks.
My DVD collection is part of the fabric of this room. From where I am sitting I have access to sets of plays by Shakespeare, Shaw, Ibsen, Chekhov, Terence Rattigan, Oscar Wilde, Alan Bennett, as well as runs of Play for Today and Armchair Theatre. I have Monty Python’s TV show and films, all the Blackadders, Dad’s Army, Hancock, and Steptoes. I have period dramas from books by Dickens, Austen, Brontes, Hardy, and Catherine Cookson. I have historical dramas about the Tudor kings and queens. I have most of the Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! shows, and a large collection relating to Sherlock Holmes. I have over 400 musical films. I have all the BFI industrial and documentary sets, and silent films ranging from Chaplin, Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy and Keaton through to Caligari, Nosferatu, Metropolis (four versions), Sunrise, Greed, The Blot, It, and Napoleon.
I even have three of those cheapo Mill Creek multi-packs of 50 B pictures, because there are gems within. I have American, Spanish, Greek, French, German, Australian, and Dutch releases. The Forbidden Hollywood sets and the Treasures of American Cinema sets have pride of place with Upstairs Downstairs (the original) and collections of the work of Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, and Ken Russell. And there’s crime, too – Ruth Rendell, PD James, Barbara Vine, Minette Walters, Murder in Mind. There’s the big educational series of times past – Civilisation and The Ascent of Man – I don’t yet have America. And there are PIFs too – Charley Says, Apaches, Tufty and the Green Cross Code.
Children’s TV is here too – Bagpuss and the Clangers, Camberwick Green, Willo the Wisp, Pipkins. Thrillers, sitcoms, anthology series, horror films, girly weepies. Everything currently available by Dennis Potter. A bit of Pinter. Bilko, Dick Cavett, Face to Face, Edward Murrow. And dance too – Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Michael Clark, Matthew Bourne.
Far from not having ‘a life’ these discs have impacted on my life, reminding me of places I have visited, people I have known. Old favourites have stories and memories attached. New discoveries bring pleasure and peace.
No, my minimalist friends, I will not be letting go of this collection.