The real significance of the DVD

Normal Lebrecht ponders what happens when you can have everything on your bookshelf (or on your hard drive):

The complete works of Ingmar Bergman and Francois Truffaut are about to go on sale and no self-respecting cineaste will walk by without feeling a tug at the purse strings. To have and to hold every film that guided your artistic and emotional maturation, through adolescence and beyond, is something many will find irresistible. Kurosawa, Hitchcock, Tarkovsky and the Ealing comedies are equally on offer. What was formerly part of a romanticised past, glimpsed infrequently on late-night TV, has become urgently present (perhaps the perfect present). The eternally elusive turns up in plastic boxes.

What this means, in cultural terms, is that film now takes its place beside literature, music and visual imagery as an art that can be owned and bookmarked. Where once you had to visit a cinema or spool through half a mile of clunky videotape in order to access a seminal scene in an essential movie, you now zone into it on DVD as quickly as finding a name in the index of an artist biography.