Downhill Droid

Compare the jacket art for the forthcoming Criterion DVD of Downhill Racer to the art for the two theatrical posters used during the film’s original release. The middle poster is obviously the sexiest and most sophisticated. The electric-blue one on the right is…well, okay. But the Criterion DVD jacket looks like a robot-droid skiier — like Peter Weller‘s Robocop negotiating a slope on the ice planet of Hoth.


(l. to r.) Jacket of forthcoming Criterion Downhill Racer DVD; theatrical release poster #1; alternate theatrical poster.

What was Criterion thinking? The cover makes me almost not want to buy it, and I love this film.

  • Krazy Eyes

    It’s funny you would mention this because I happen to channel the graphic design Gods and you’re wrong. The Criterion cover is indeed the best of the three — although the Gods do give props to the middle one. The right one they don’t like much at all. The Gods don’t get the robot comment at all. It pretty much looks like a downhill skier to them.

  • Glenn Kenny

    My recommendation is that you carry out your threat. DO NOT BUY the DVD. Once those Criterion cocksuckers understand that you know what goes, the shareholders will kick Peter Becker to the curb and put you in the head position. Then you can do whatever you want. Ram through the “Che” Blu-ray. Acquire “An Education” for a three-disc set. All that.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    A two-disc An Education package will suffice. But seriously…do you see what I’m talking about re the jacket cover? I’m trying to write like an honest man standing before a painting in the Met, and not as a political maneuverer on the slippery DVD slopes.

  • sumo-pop

    I get your point Jeff, but it beats the shit out of the 3rd option up top. Poster 2 is perfect though.

  • BoshBarnetWonkyDonkey

    I think the one on the left looks alright. But really, it’s gonna go in a stack/on a shelf so it doesn’t really matter. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that.

  • Travis Crabtree

    Depends.

    One has to think that most people seeking this film out on a Criterion disc have either already seen it or have heard about it. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter what the cover looks like so much.

    On the other hand, if you’re thinking of it as an ad for the film, then all three fail because they’re missing the obvious selling point – a big fat glammy pic of Robert Redford, perhaps with Duvall just behind him.
    “Ooo, it’s a skiing movie with Robert Redford and Robert Duvall…let’s check it out”

  • Glenn Kenny

    I just like busting your chops sometimes, JW. To be honest with you, I kind of agree. I don’t see why some sort of adaptation of the original poster wouldn’t have sufficed. That said, sometimes you come off like you have a peculiar Criterion hard-on; like even when they do what you like, they don’t do it well enough. We can’t always get everything we want!

  • http://lipranzer.blogspot.com lipranzer

    Duvall? I thought it was Gene Hackman.

    Criterion covers can be minimalist (I just acquired the DVD of HOMICIDE, which is just a drawing of Joe Mantegna standing in front of the scene of the crime, but in the background, with tire marks in the foreground), but I kind of like that. It’s not trying to hit me over the head. And the skiing picture is, if nothing else, truth in advertising.

  • Jesse Perry

    I agree with Jeffrey. The cover just doesn’t feel very Criterion-y. To me, the middle poster is ideal.

  • corey3rd

    It’s not an enticing cover. Looks like they’re trying to sell an extreme skiing movie. I can just see the clerk at Best Buy sticking this in the sports DVD section.

    What the hell is wrong with the original movie poster. I can’t stand it when companies just can’t give us the vintage graphic design.

  • Jack South P.I.

    lipranzer, how did you get HOMICIDE early? It’s not out until 9/8. C’mon, spill your secrets!

  • cwratliff

    Hmm… I don’t mind the Criterion design so much– their DVD designs are generally pretty nice– but I do wish that more DVDs would simple feature the original theatrical poster as the cover art. I hate how often a DVD will have some new design which is usually inferior to whatever the original poster is.

    And I agree that the original DR poster is the best of the bunch. They shoulda stuck with that one…

  • Terry McCarty

    The alternate poster from the theatrical release would have been ideal. Not one of Criterion’s best in-house cover designs.

  • Terry McCarty

    Wondering if Paramount will someday release the Redford/Michael J. Pollard-starring “wheeler” (as Pauline Kael used to call motorcycle-related fare) LITTLE FAUSS AND BIG HALSEY on DVD–though I’m aware that it’s apparently not of the quality of DOWNHILL RACER.

  • markj

    If you think that’s bad check out the cover for Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale.

    Gomorrah has an impressive cover though, pretty pleased with that one.

  • Bob Violence

    Wait, so is the one on the right supposed to be Downhill Racer or Tron?

  • MrTribeca

    I just love the theatrical release poster, it’s a classic.

  • George Prager

    It’s okay. The second post would’ve been ridiculous. As a friend said to me a while back, he was inclined to buy discs that were “lasery”. Criterion’s new art fits the bill.

  • roquentin

    Glenn, considering your own constant references to, and corrections of, and incredulity with Jeff in The Auteurs column, I hope you looked down when you wrote that “hard on” comment. Cuts both ways man.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Column’s not gonna write itself, Roquentin. And Jeff’s a good enough sport, and smart enough to tell the difference between when I’m being serious and just fucking with him.

  • roquentin

    I actually enjoy your tirades against Jeff’s own, and I realize the spirit they’re written in. Still, your “hard on” comment left a big door open, and it was too enticing not to walk through. Consider it in the same spirit.

  • ZayTonday

    OK This is maybe one of the FIRST subpar Criterion covers I have seen in EONS. They do n awesome job 99 times out of 100.

  • ZayTonday

    But yeah they should have used assets from the original poster to do this cover just like they did with If…

  • Baron Munchausen-by-Proxy

    This could actually be one of the dopiest threads on HE.

    Look, when Criterion puts out its versions of films on dvd, it is not the studio (or other entity) that created or which owns the films. It does so under a LICENSE, which is of a limited duration. When the license period is over, if it is not renewed, the Criterion version goes out of print.

    If the film’s owner either lets the license lapse or terminates it, it is 99% likely that the studio is planning on releasing its own version of the film on dvd. (Usually, one of the terms of the license is that any extra features that Criterion creates will become the property of the film’s owner upon lapse of the license, so that the owner can then put out their own dvds that also feature those features. Criterion is hardly “cheated” by this, as they wouldn’t have created th features, or indeed had any product at all, were it not for the owner licensing the dvd rights in the first place.

    Another standard term in these licenses is that Criterion MUST create distinctive artwork for its licensed dvd versions, and NOT use the key art utilized by the owner/studio for previous home video versions. This artwork – and all elements thereof – is also owned by the same studio/owner that owns the film.

    Sure, some *elements* of the key art may be utilized, and provision of any such elements are part of the Criterion license as well. But per the license, the dvds have to have a distinctive look from the standard home video design for the greater purpose of “preventing confusion in the marketplace”, because the owner of the film has the right to market their own version of the home video dvd of the film they own if/when the Criterion license lapses, and they again have the right to do so.

    Has no one actually noticed before that Criterion cover art is never (well, I’m sure there may be exceptions) the same key art as the subject film’s U.S. domestic or home-video release?

    Do y’all really think that “Downhill Racer” was some sort of unique situation in which Criterion simply “didn’t try” to use the famous US “kissing” poster?

  • Floyd Thursby

    My favorite Camilla Sparv movie.

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