Even as streaming continues to grow and dominate the film release discussion, there’s still something to be said about owning The Criterion Collection special edition of a film on Blu-ray. No matter how great streaming video and sound quality can achieve, a Criterion release is something different and is still a coveted status symbol for a film. And with that in mind, NEON announced, before it even arrives in US theaters, that the upcoming French film, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” is getting the Criterion treatment.
While the exact details of what might be included in the special edition release of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” might include are still not known, the film has already earned itself the badge of honor of being added to the legendary Collection. The new film, written and directed by Céline Sciamma, finds itself near the top of many Best of 2019 lists (including our own) and has been one of the biggest awards contenders coming into the end of the year.
Peter Becker, President of The Criterion Collection remarked, “Céline Sciamma’s ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ took our breath away when we first saw it at Telluride, and we are ecstatic that we will be able to give the film the loving special edition treatment it deserves.”
NEON added, “We couldn’t be more thrilled that our first collaboration with The Criterion Collection is Céline’s breathtakingly beautiful and utterly captivating ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire.’”
While it’s rare to be added to the Criterion Collection for the first release of the film on Blu-ray, it’s especially unique to be given the announcement before the film even begins its theatrical run in so many markets. Recently, foreign films such as “Cold War” and “Roma” have been given Criterion Collection special edition releases, but those films were only announced as part of the library well after their respective awards season runs.
All that to say, if you didn’t believe that “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” was the real deal, this is a pretty strong indicator that Sciamma crafted something truly special that will transcend many other 2019 releases.