LITTLE ROCK, AR—The William Jefferson Clinton Presidential DVD Library is currently under construction, with the opening celebration scheduled to take place Nov. 14, the former president said Tuesday.
"The DVD library will feature an extensive collection of movies produced during my eight years in the White House," Clinton said, speaking to reporters in his Harlem office. "It will also provide the public with access to some classic re-releases and a bunch of great newer films. Did you all see Lost In Translation? Really beautiful movie. Some people said it was slow, but I thought it was perfect. I picked that one up at Best Buy earlier today."
The Clinton Presidential DVD Library will be located in a 27-acre city park on the south bank of the Arkansas River in Little Rock's River Market District. The 11th in a nationwide network of libraries administered by the Office of Presidential Libraries, Clinton's library will be the first devoted exclusively to movies.
"This library will be a monument to both my love of great movies and the improvement in picture quality, special-feature capabilities, and durability that the DVD standard brings," Clinton said. "Sure, VHS costs a little less, but you don't get any of the extras, like commentary tracks and deleted scenes. From an archivist's standpoint, DVDs are totally worth the money."
Clinton's DVD holdings number an impressive 97 volumes, all of which are currently housed in his den.
"I began acquiring movies last year, after Chelsea got me a DVD player for my birthday," Clinton said. "She gave me Titanic with the player, and then I bought a bunch of Westerns and some great must-haves like Citizen Kane. I've got The Godfather… Forrest Gump… T3… Well, I could go on and on."
Clinton said his library will "truly be a place of education" due to his eclectic tastes in film.
"Movies teach us how to live and how to laugh," Clinton said. "That's so important. Just last week, I re-watched Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing. Man, I'd forgotten what a great movie that was. It fully renewed my commitment to racial, ethnic, and religious reconciliation."
"I have all different kinds of movies—action, drama, comedy," Clinton said. "I have the entire Kubrick box set and a Hitchcock set, too. I also have the season-spanning box sets for some TV shows like King Of The Hill, because those are good to relax with if you don't have time to watch a whole movie."
In spite of his impressive array of DVDs, Clinton said he plans to increase his holdings before his library opens to the public in November.
"My collection needs a little rounding out," Clinton said. "I really like independent films and foreign films, but right now, I don't have many of those. I want to get some subtitled Bergman-type stuff and some movies by—what's his name? The guy who did Twin Peaks."
Clinton has declared it a priority to acquire new volumes in the coming months. He said his goal is to add at least 300 movies to the library by opening day.
"I asked my assistant to print out some of those AFI lists," Clinton said. "Also, I've been asking my buddies for suggestions. Janet [Reno] told me I should get Glengarry Glen Ross, so I'm going to order it on Amazon. I know it's a little risky to buy a movie without having seen it, but it'd be a waste of money to rent it if I'm just going to end up buying it for the library anyway."
Clinton outlined his vision for the collection.
"My DVD library will be a tour of the films that shaped me intellectually, taught me about the human condition, and showed me worlds I'd never have seen without cinema," Clinton said. "Also, I'll include the movies that just rocked me, like my all-time favorite, High Noon."
Award-winning architect James Polshek designed the building that will house the DVD library.
"Mr. Clinton had a very clear vision for the library," Polshek said. "He said he wanted it to be a place where people would feel comfortable. He specifically asked me to limit the amount of natural light inside the museum, and to find a bunch of comfy couches."
Clinton elaborated on the design.
"The individual viewing carrels will be equipped with 32-inch plasma televisions and top-of-the-line Sennheiser headphones," Clinton said. "The library's main auditorium will have 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and stadium seating. Can't you imagine how great it will be to come and watch Jurassic Park with all your buddies? That scene where they crest the hill and see the brontosauruses? Remember?"
Added Clinton: "I know my library is not in competition with the others, but I do believe Americans will enjoy the experience more than they'd like peering at Gerald Ford's desk calendar through Plexiglas."
The library will be organized by genre, and will use a computerized cataloguing system. Visitors will be able to search for movies by title, director, cast, or famous lines.
"If you type in 'Show me the money,' it'll bring up Jerry Maguire and say where to find the movie," Clinton said. "What a boon for future generations."
Clinton said he will personally rate each movie in the collection, but due to time constraints, he will only write full reviews of his absolute favorite movies. Once the museum opens, Clinton will also choose 10 new must-see films for the President's Picks shelf every month.
In spite of Clinton's wishes, concessions will not be sold in the library.