Arriving on the heels of Scott Wampler’s admittance that movies occasionally make him cry, comes the Criterion Collection’s announcement that Richard Linklater’s seminal Before trilogy (consisting of Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight) is going to be released next February on Blu-ray and DVD. Along with the standard issue 2K digital transfers approved by the writer/director, the discs will also include a new discussion between Linklater and actors Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke (moderated by the one and only Kent Jones), BTS footage from Sunrise and Sunset, audio commentary on Midnight (also by Linklater, Deply and Hawke), the ’16 feature length doc on Linklater, Dream is Destiny, and a new making-of documentary about Midnight’s Greek production, courtesy of filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari.
Like all Criterion releases, there’s also a treasure chest of critical work analyzing the film incorporated into the set, showcasing a conversation between scholars Dave Johnson and Rob Stone, a video essay by kogonada (who’s compiled some definitive visual dissections on many classic pictures), and an essay on the trilogy by Dennis Lim. All in all, a box ready to make hard core cinephiles weep tears of joy.
Not to get too hyperbolic, but the Before trilogy is a monumental moment in American independent cinema – arguably the greatest fictional representation of time, how it affects human beings, their feelings toward each other, and the universe that surrounds them. Besides cementing Hawke and Delpy’s Jesse and Celine as generational avatars for optimistic yearning, it’s a series that also dares to wonder whether or not we’re supposed to stay with the ones we adore forever.
When viewed as a whole, Linklater’s Before pictures are a cinematic document of love in its truest forms – as a spark, a reconnection, and a for better or worse proposition that can break just as easily as it can hold strong against the barrage of years. They’re the apex of an already distinguished career, and will sit quite nicely on the shelf next to Criterion’s previous releases of Linklater’s other masterworks, Slacker, Dazed and Confused and Boyhood.
So save up eighty dollars, baby. You’re gonna want to plop it down for this set on February 28th.