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"The Masterpiece" versus "The Ultimate" collections
on 14 November 2012
It is probably pointless to order "Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection" now that Universal launched a new box set,
"The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection". The new set costs almost £20 less than the old one ( prices at the date of this review)
and it has two more films, "To Catch a Thief" and "North by Northwest".
This is the reason why I rated "The Masterpiece" as three stars, although it is really a five stars set. The point is, how could I write a review recommending "Masterpiece" if there is a new set that is better ?
Reviews about films on Amazon are supposed to be a guide that might help customers to decide about ordering a product or not.
If you don't already have the set "The Masterpiece Collection", then there is no doubt that it is better to order "The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection".
If you already have the first set and is considering to get the second, newest one then you could always make an excellent Christmas present of the first set or donate
it to charity. I thought in sell my old set and checked Momox but the price they pay for it is surrealist: £2.32
Here I will outline the main differences between both sets, hoping that the information will be useful to other customers.
1. "The Ultimate" has two more films, "To Catch a Thief" and "North by Northwest". The quality of images is very good but the night scenes of "To Catch a Thief" are green...
The disc "To Catch a Thief" has no label with photo of the film, what singles it out from all other discs. That was some sloppy work of Universal. In addition, there are no extra features in "To Catch a Thief",
unlike all other films of the set, where you can find excellent extra features such as interviews with Hitchcock's daughter, actors, writers and so on.
2. "The Ultimate" has a considerably better price. I am considering here Amazon's price. There is a new seller selling "The Masterpiece" for half the price but I don't know if the sets are really new
and, in any case, that offer will not last long.
3. Both boxes have about the same height and length but "The Ultimate" has more than twice the width of "The Masterpiece". You will need more space for the new set. The oldest box seems more elegant to me
and they occupy half the space of the new box. There is a drawing of "The Birds" on the box of the old collection whilst the new box has a design of "Vertigo". The drawing of "Vertigo", unlike the one
from "The Birds", could be a drawing from many other films and it is not so much of a "trademark" as "The Birds" is.
4. There were many complaints about the discs being put inside paper slots in "The Masterpiece". It looks like Universal listened to those complaints because the films in "The Ultimate" come inside a nice metal case
that looks like a film can. The case has a soft styrofoam on both of its internal sides what makes for very good protection to each disc.
5. The extras such as booklet, film posters and so on are basically the same in "Masterpiece" and "Ultimate". Both sets have a collection of 14 (Masterpiece) or 16 (Ultimate) movie poster cards of each film. They also have a small booklet , replicas of letters and storyboards. "The Masterpiece" has eight costume cards that are not present in the new edition.
6. I was hoping that Universal would improve, in the new edition, the quality of copies such as "Marnie" but they didn't. The discs are exactly the same. The images in "Marnie" are good but they are not up
to blu ray standards. Even if the transfer of some of the films to blu ray wasn't to a high standard it doesn't mean that the images are
bad, unwatchable. They are good and they are better than their dvds' counterparts. "Frenzy", for example, looks much better on blu ray than on dvd.
7. It is much easier to handle the discs from the new collection, "The Ultimate", as each film has its own case. The discs are also better protected what would be the main reason why customers who were unhappy
with the placement of discs in paper slots, as they are on the first set, would consider ordering this set. Each metal case has the film title on the front and on the side making it very easy to find what you are looking for.
The films are in order of their year's production, like in the older set.
8. I checked the blu ray disc "To Catch a Thief" and Amazon is selling it for £7.50. That disc has several extra features, unlike the one in this collection. I wonder why.
Both box sets are, as far as I know, the best sets of films on disc ever made. It is definitely worth ordering the collection, even if you have
Hitchcock's films on dvd, because the blu ray discs are of better quality than the dvds and
are put together in cleverly, beautifully designed boxes.
I still didn't decide if I will keep the new set and will get rid of the old one or if I will return the new set but, if you don't have the first set then the newest one is definitely the best choice because of price, number of films and
quality of cases. It is just a shame that they did such a poor job with "To Catch a Thief" in the new box set, "The Ultimate Filmmaker Collection".
It is an easy guess that everybody considering this set have already watched most of its films but we can always come back to Hitchcock, reason why he is one of the great masters of cinema. Away from noisy crowds and smelly food
that now populate cinemas, you can watch Hitchcock's movies with blu ray quality ( mostly... ) in your home.
The sets have a few faults. I know that and pointed them out but the main thing is that both sets are of unique quality and they really are extraordinary.
Thank you, Universal, for all the work and care shown in the excellent "Masterpiece" and "Ultimate" sets.
Winter is coming and, as film experiences go, there is nothing like watching Hitchcock in a rainy, cold day, whilst having tea and cakes and biscuits
and blueberry jam...