The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Is your film collection snoop ready?

with 38 comments

Tomas Alfredson, the Swedish director, was snooping about in the home of the Ingmar Bergman. I was hanging over his shoulder, eager to see what he’d find.

The chamber of secrets that we had entered was situated in Bergman’s house at Fårö. This was the room where he kept his private collection of videotapes, all in all 1711 movies, neatly arranged in alphabetic order.

Alfredson’s eyes moved quickly over the rows. Then, like a homing missile, he stopped and pulled out a movie for everyone to see. It was Emmanuelle, a soft porn movie from the 70s.

I waited for some kind of commentary or analysis to come. What did this say about Bergman? Had this film had an influence on him as a director? Was it an example of a particular broad approach to movies? But he was lost for words. “A very… exciting movie…. About a woman who is naked, I think”, he said awkwardly before putting it back and moving over to another movie in a safer territory.

Magic word
I was watching the first episode of “Bergman’s video”, a Swedish TV series based around Bergman’s videofilms. Apparently the word “Bergman” has magical effect on famous film makers. All the TV-team had to do was to say: “Did you know that Bergman had a tape with your movie [insert name ]?” This was the only door opener the they needed to get access to names such as Woody Allen, Robert de Niro, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott and Lars von Trier. They were delighted to be a part of this series.

Now, without having any knowledge about it, I would guess that Bergman was well aware of and approved that people would check out his collection of movies after he was gone. I can’t imagine he would have anything against Alfredson finding it.

But a thought popped up in my backhead: is this the only one? Or would it be possible that Bergman had a secret drawer somewhere with more of that kind? It wouldn’t be a strange thing: as far as I understand it most men watch pornography occasionally in their lives. It’s rather the opposite – a complete lack of porn consumption – that is rare.

Bergman displayed Emmanuelle openly. Now I wonder how other film collectors handle those things.

For my own part I’m a bit of a bore in this area: I can’t think of any movies that I wouldn’t like my children to find. Our film collection is relatively small and I can’t recall anything particularly exciting. And if there is any, I’m sure that my kids have found it already, our house isn’t big enough to hold secrets.

What about you? Have you got an official collection of movies that is safe for snooping visitors to go through? Do you keep a secret pile locked up somewhere else, containing anything from explicit sex to zombies, anything that you don’t want to expose to your parents or the children of visiting friends?  Have you taken precautions in case of your death, seeing to that a trusted friend will come and grab the films that can make your mother embarrassed before she finds them?

Are you prepared to have your video collection inspected by a TV show?

Written by Jessica

August 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm

38 Responses

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  1. I think with the Internet, the need for men to have porn collections has dramatically reduced. It’s too accessible now. Not that I frequent any of these adult sites myself 😉

    In terms of my collection, it’s open to everyone. The most shocking film I own is Gasper Noe’s “Irreversible” I think. Other than than everything is above board. I used to own “Salo or 120 days of Sodom” which was a very shocking film from the 70’s about how fascists subject a group of young men and women to all kinds of physical and mental torture. I no longer own this and have no idea what happened to it but I’m glad it’s not around anymore. My partner might think that I was into all kinds of brutal and disturbing stuff. It would not have went down well.

    Mark Walker

    August 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    • Of course you don’t. 😉

      As about torture movies I guess the quesiton is how they’re presented on the cover. If it’s evident that the movie is celebrated among film buffs, it will pass. But if it seems to be a B-movie for immature teenagers it might raise questions about your true nature.


      August 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      • I swear, I swear I don’t go near these sites. (at least not during the day) ;-).
        As for “Salo”, it’s certainly not a teenage movie although I did see it when I was a teenager. As far as I’m aware it’s one of the most controversial film’s ever made and I can see why. It was banned in many countries and in some cases siezed before it was released. Check out IMDb for more info but I genuinely wouldn’t recommend watching the film. It’s very disturbing indeed.
        I have a few Lars Von Trier movies in my collection, do they count for naughty material? Specifically, “The Idiots”?

        Mark Walker

        August 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm

        • I’m not in any rush to watch Salo from your description.

          As of von Trier I think he’s considered highbrow enough to pass as “artistic”. Not sure about his next movie though. As far as I’ve understood it it will contain porn…


          August 27, 2012 at 12:08 am

          • Personally I love Von Trier. He’s one of my favourites but from what I’ve heard from his latest… Shia LeBeouf is involved an “apparently” is involved in actual full intercourse scenes. This may be a marketing gimmick but if it is, then it’s a good one. People are talking about this already.

            Mark Walker

            August 27, 2012 at 12:16 am

  2. My collection wouldn’t be safe for my young nephews randomly grabbing things to watch, it does include Antichrist afterall, but there’s nothing I’d have an issue being explored in a cineliterate show. Not that I’d have a problem stocking something like Shortbus, which I love as a work of art, full of explicit sex though it may be. And of course I’ve reviewed a couple films for my blog that are proper erotica, just not had much reason to own any of those films.


    August 24, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    • No, I guess that’s the thing. Is it Tomas Alfredson that is noticing your inclusion of Shortbus in your collection or is it your grandma? You’d feel tempted to slap on a sticker saying “This is a certified piece of art” 🙂


      August 26, 2012 at 12:10 pm

  3. What with readily available porn on the internet, I’ve got no need to keep a collection of the stuff. I’ve got nothing in my movie collection to be ashamed of. Although I do have a few movies I bought years ago I no longer care for. That would be the closest thing to bringing me shame from my collection.

    Dave Enkosky

    August 25, 2012 at 2:13 am

    • You’d need to mark those if someone is snooping. Maybe you could have a starrating on the back of the films, so people don’t get ideas about you loving terrible movies.


      August 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

  4. Do they still make porn movies? I think the closest that I’ve ever come to actually watching porn is the behind the scenes stuff in Boogie Nights. I love that movie a lot, it’s one of my all time favorites, but struggle to recommend it to people since explaining the plot alone sends of alarm bells. If it was someone like Alfredson though I think they would understand, so it depends on who would be doing the snooping.


    August 25, 2012 at 7:54 am

    • Yes, who wouldn’t like to have Alfredson snooping around in your shelves? 🙂 I’d be flattered. Re: if they make porn movies: I honestly don’t know. I guess most is put out there online nowadays? I read somewhere that the industry is in crises since people do this kind of amateur films for free. You don’t need to pay to get access to those things.


      August 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm

  5. I’d say mine is. Generally. I’ve got some embarrassing ones from earlier years, but my purchases recently have been gold. Last three: The Godfather [VHS], Manhattan Murder Mystery, F for Fake.

    George Watches Things

    August 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

  6. Great post. I really want to see that show, Jessica. It’d be very interesting to see what sort of films Bergman liked. Oh, and my movie collection is totally snoop-ready 😉


    August 26, 2012 at 6:09 am

    • Thanks Fernando! I thought the first episode was great. It’s a funny little idea to build a series on, but the result is pretty charming. It’s a splendid excuse to speak to a mixed bunch of actors and directors about just about anything.


      August 26, 2012 at 12:03 pm

  7. My dvd collection is safe for work, the content on my PC somewhat less. The most shocking movie in my collecton, mmm. Probably Kids but it’s absolutely brilliant so that’s a good excuse.

    Friends removing porn makes me remember the series Coupling, they even have a name for it: Porn Buddies 🙂


    August 26, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    • Well, even if people have stopped keeping physical copies of movies in their shelves I suppose they might have use of someone cleaning their computer for them… That’s where you only let in your very closest friends.


      August 27, 2012 at 12:02 am

  8. Aha but how do we know that the tapes match what it says on their covers?

    I am reminded of Trainspotting (I think it was) where one couple had a home made porn video and hid it on a case showing some film. Which one of their friends promptly borrowed, of course.

    Maybe there will be some surprises in the show 🙂


    August 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    • Hehe, what a great example, I didn’t think of that. And yes, wouldn’t that be wonderful! Sadly I don’t think they have need to open the cases. I’m pretty sure they’re taking the clips they show elsewhere.


      August 27, 2012 at 12:04 am

  9. I don’t have any physical media left except for some books that I can’t get as ebooks; neither music CDs nor DVDs. I still have a lot of files on the hard disk around, but I want to get rid of them too. For music it will be very soon as reasonable streaming solutions are available now here in Germany. For video the situation is not so good because of complicated legal rules, that will take longer.

    Some time ago when moving I stored my complete DVDs that I still had then at a friend. After deciding to get rid of them he got them without me looking through them again. I got a comment from him later that his wife didn’t like a specific not too small part of the collection, but that where “historical” movies (in the sense of knights, romans and such).

    So: Clean shelf policy. Problem solved.

    Well, except for the playlist data stored at the streaming service…

    And in your case I would read your blog, not look at media that be saved for several reasons (bad movie but nice DVD cover; present from a friend; first movie seen with a significant other…).


    August 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    • I think you’re very spot on about the problem of jumping into conclusions about people judging from their collection. You have no idea of how that movie ended up in the collection. It’s not necessarily a movie they’ve bought for themselves or like at all. In my case my blog says a thousand times more about what kind of movies I love than my shelf does.


      August 27, 2012 at 12:06 am

  10. I don’t have a lot of extra space in my apartment to display shelves and shelves of DVD’s so I usually copy them onto my computer and then stash them away in storage. But I’m not really afraid of what someone might find in those boxes full of disks. There may be a few titles I got as gifts (Coyote Ugly, Armageddon, Showgirls) that might raise an eyebrow or two from a cinephile though.

    Bonjour Tristesse

    August 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    • The cinephiles can bugger off. For a while my daughter was obsessed with Armageddon so I watched it a great many times. Actually the ending was pretty touching – each time. There’s nothing like a good old hero story!


      August 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

  11. Yeah, I’m snoop-ready. Some DVD covers and sleeves might require some explaining to friends and acquintances who aren’t as into film as I am, though. Shortbus, for example, has plenty of unsimulated sex in it, and the DVD spine makes it look like soft-core porno, but it’s really just a normal film that happens to feature and be about sex. Other films like In the Mood for Love and Secretary have boxes that make them look seedier than they are, but they’re both critically acclaimed, so whatevs.

    I’d be more embarassed over all the shitty horror films I’ve ended up with due to lousy multi-movie box sets.


    August 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    • Hm… Hard to do the explaining when you’re dead though. You’d better put on some explaining stickers. Actually it would have been kind of fun if Bergman had done this. Sharing the story about how Emmanuelle got into his possesion and what he made of it.


      August 27, 2012 at 8:29 pm

  12. All my films are out and honestly, I’m more embarrassed by films like Malibu’s Most Wanted (which I still own) and You Got Served! (which I sadly no longer own). I used to have a ton of horror movies, like really weird stuff, that would sometimes gross people out but I wasn’t watching them so I pared back my collection a bit.


    August 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    • Hm… I’ve never heard of those movies, so I probably wouldn’t take notice if I was browsing your collection. Unless the covers reveal their crapiness then.


      August 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm

  13. I think I’d be happy for my collection to be looked at, but perhaps only if I could explain why some of them were there (gifts, prizes etc) My external HDD has much more questionable titles …(no not THOSE sort of titles, just really random stuff). Great post!

    Sam McCosh (@sakura_59)

    August 28, 2012 at 2:09 am

    • Thanks! I guess if they do a program like this in the future it will need to be titled “Alfredson’s HDD”.


      August 28, 2012 at 7:04 am

  14. It’s not a question of whether my collection is snoop ready, but whether my wit is snoop ready. The best reaction to a snoop trying to insult you for your taste in something they dislike is a humorous response that shows them they are being an ass.

    I own over 1,500 DVDs and among them is one (1) adult movie – Zazel. I had a woman pull it off the shelf and almost instantly start to insult me for having an adult film and asking me what was wrong with me. I responded that the concept of owning one adult film among 1,500 being somehow a condemnation of me as a person was actually what was wrong here. Her perspective being that out of whack said far more about her, than owning one adult movie said about me. The most amusing part of all of this is on more than one later occasion I saw her examining all my DVDs trying in vain to find a second adult film because apparently this would now have tipped the scales to her side, in her mind at least.


    August 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    • Yes, I agree that it really falls back on the one snooping if they get snarky and start condemning you for one film. Tomas Alfredson wasn’t condemning. I don’t know really why he showed up that particular movie. I figure he wanted to show something we didn’t expect.


      August 30, 2012 at 12:03 am

  15. I can’t imagine ever purchasing a pornographic film. Again, far too accessible on the Internet.

    Not that I’m in rush to have children, buy my collections is pretty clean. I’d be perfectly ok with having my child watch 8 1/2, Citizen Kane, and Vertigo.

    Sam Fragoso

    August 30, 2012 at 9:33 am

    • For being the age you are you seem to have a very mature taste for movies.


      September 6, 2012 at 9:51 pm

  16. Apart from some truly awful movies in my collection it would be safe to be snooped.


    September 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    • Hide them!


      September 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      • No, I’m not too worried about what people think about me having them. They are all on my shelf of bad movies, so there’s a theme there 😉


        September 7, 2012 at 7:56 am

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