Happy New Years From The Criterion Collection, Now Here’s A Cryptic Drawing [Criterion New Releases / Rumors?]

Criterion makes us think. Rather than providing us with campy comedies and mindless, explosion-laden action flicks (well, save one or two), they provide us with intellectually-gratifying cinema coupled with essays, theses, and commentary from scholarly folk of all shapes and sizes. They give credit to their audience’s brain power, and would never sleight us the consideration.

Our New Year’s present from Criterion, then, should come as no surprise. On the morning of the 1st, they posted Jason Polan’s illustrated cypher of a handful of films slated for release in the Collection this year. Some were relatively self-explanatory. Others were mind-boggling and required the collaborative effort of this entire Criterion Cast and the super sleuths over at The Criterion Forum Board. Here is what we believe to be the definitive solution to the puzzle, clockwise:

  • the background: Il Deserto Rosso (The Red Desert) – Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964 Wikipedia IMDB

“Although on one level Red Desert might be taken as a story about a harsh modern industrial culture to which only the neurotic Giuliana has awakened, Antonioni later said he wanted to show that industrial technology has a beauty of its own and that he had filmed a story about human adaptability…” Wiki

  • the hotel sign: Vivre Sa Vie (To Live Her Life) – Jean-Luc Godard, 1962 Wikipedia IMDB

“The film stars Anna Karina, Godard’s then wife, as Nana, a young Parisian woman who abandons her marriage and a child in order to pursue a career as an actress. Faced with financial troubles she drifts into prostitution. Nana believes she makes this choice of her own free will, but the film emphasizes the social structure that forces the poor into such situations, and builds to a tragic conclusion.” Wiki

  • road sign (Paris, Texas): Paris, Texas – Wim Wenders, 1984
  • the strange sculpture: Summer Hours – Oliver Assayas, 2008 Wikipedia IMDB

“Two brothers and a sister witness the disappearance of their childhood memories when they must relinquish the family belongings to ensure their deceased mother’s succession.” Wiki

  • the axe in the stump: Revanche – Götz Spielman, 2008
  • man and devil on motorcycle: Ride With The Devil – Ang Lee, 1999 Wikipedia IMDB

“Jake Roedel and Jack Bull Chiles are friends in Missouri when the Civil War starts. Women and Blacks have few rights. Jack Bull’s dad is killed by Union soldiers, so the young men join the Bushwhackers, irregulars loyal to the South. One is a Black man, Daniel Holt, beholden to the man who bought his freedom. They skirmish then spend long hours hiding. Sue Lee, a young widow, brings them food. She and Jack Bull become lovers, and when he’s grievously wounded, Jake escorts her south to a safe farm. The Bushwhackers, led by men set on revenge, make a raid into Kansas. At 19, Jake is ill at ease with war. As his friends die one after another, he must decide where honor lies.” IMDB

  • man on back of motorcycle: Close-Up – Abbas Kiarostami, 1990 Wikipedia IMDB

“…directed by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. The film tells the story of the real-life trial of a man who impersonated film-maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, conning a family into believing they would star in his new film. It features the people involved, acting as themselves. ” Wiki

  • blue “M” on man’s shoulder: M [Blu-Ray] – Fritz Lang, 1931
  • white feather: The Four Feathers – Zolta Korda, 1939 Wikipedia IMDB

“A British army officer who resigns his commission on the eve of his unit’s embarkation to a mission against Egyptian rebels seeks to redeem his cowardice by secretly aiding his former comrades disguised as an Arab. When his unit is overwhelmed and captured by the rebels, the hero finds an opportunity to return the ‘feathers’ of cowardice sent to him by his former comrades by freeing them.” IMDB

  • samurai’s shoes: The Red Shoes [Blu-Ray] – Mihcael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948
  • woman’s tshirt: Che – Steven Soderbergh, 2008
  • blue leopard: The Leopard [Blu-Ray] – Luchino Visconti, 1963

Good work, gumshoes! Now that we’ve been given a chummy taste of what’s to come, we cinephiles have become something like maddened, circling sharks. I can envision the 15th of each month offering one or two of these at a time, along with plenty more that we haven’t been promised in this drawing. I’ll keep you updated of these monthly releases as the year goes by. If you believe any of this to be erroneous, or if you have any suggestions to what we might have overlooked (there is a sun that is unaccounted for), give us your comments/feedback.

Happy New Year from the CriterionCast!

[Note from the Editor: you can also find a copy of the image in question, along with each drawing tagged, on our Facebook Page.]

Travis George

Travis George was born and raised in Carteret County, a seaside community in North Carolina's Outer Banks. In 2005, he made the inevitable twentysomething's pilgrimage to Portland, Oregon, where he studied American Sign Language and otherwise busied himself with the various cultural curiosities of the Pacific Northwest. In 2006, he began (inadvertently) to watch solely the films of the Criterion Collection. His marathon came to completion on June 18th, 2009 (at 477 films), and he continues to remain current with the new releases His arrangements and social relationships have suffered greatly.

Travis makes a living delivering medical supplies, and plays in a folk band called The Ivonrose Family Jamboree ( He is currently drafting a web comic which will launch in the upcoming month or two.