From documenting significant news events of the early 20th century to breakthroughs in computer generated entertainment, the 25 motion pictures added today to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry span a century of cinematic change.
“The films we chose are not necessarily the ‘best’ American films ever made or the most famous, but they are films that continue to have cultural, historical or aesthetic significance- and in many cases represent countless other films also deserving of recognition,” stated Librarian of Congress James H. Billington in a statement released this morning.
The earliest films named to the list this year showcase the emerging art of cinema’s ability to record events as they happen. San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, April 18, 1906 (1906) captured one of the country’s worst natural disasters on film while Jeffries-Johnson World’s Championship Boxing Contest (1910) is a record of the celebrated boxing match that helped defined race relations for the rest of the century
At the other end of the century, the film technology revolution is represented by director John Lasseter’s Toy Story (1995), the first fully computer animated feature length movie. Previously, Lasseter’s 1988 computer animated short film Tin Toy was named to the National Film Registry in 2003.
Comedies are well represented in this year’s honorees, ranging from early silent features like Hands Up (1926), from nearly forgotten silent comic actor Raymond Griffith, and Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman (1928) to 1982’s classic teen comedy Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Musical comedy The Ricky Horror Picture Show (1975) was named to the list for its redefining the term “cult classic.”
Several of the films name carry historic importance for their social impact. The Barbara Stanwyck melodrama Baby Face (1933) so scandalized audiences with its depiction of a ruthless social climber who sleeps with whomever would give her what she wanted that it is has been listed as one of the films that directly led to the introduction of the Production Code in 1934. (An early pre-release edit of Baby Face was discovered in the Library of Congress’ archives in late 2004. You can read the story here.) Director Bill Jersey’s 1966 cinema verite documentary A Time For Burning chronicles the turbulent civil rights movement as it effects the congregation of a Nebraskan Lutheran church.
Other films on the list range from Ralph Steiner’s experimental H2O (1929) to such popular classics as The French Connection (1971) and The Sting (1973) to the musical The Music Man (1962) to the documentaries The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act Of Man (1975) and Hoop Dreams (1994).
Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, the Librarian of Congress is tasked with choosing 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant films to be added to the National Film Registry each year. Started in 1989, the titles announced today bring the total number of films on the Registry to 425. The films on the list range from silent classics Intolerance (1919) and It (1927) to popular blockbusters like Star Wars (1977) and Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) to historically important film footage such as the Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel Footage (1937) and Abraham Zapruder’s infamous home movie footage of the John F. Kennedy assasination.
The complete list of films added to the Registry is as follows-
- Baby Face(1933)
- The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man (1975)
- The Cameraman (1928)
- Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort South Carolina, May 1940 (1940)
- Cool Hand Luke (1967)
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High(1982)
- The French Connection (1971)
- Giant (1956)
- H2O (1929)
- Hands Up (1926)
- Hoop Dreams (1994)
- House of Usher (1960)
- Imitation of Life (1934)
- Jeffries-Johnson World’s Championship Boxing Contest (1910)
- Making of an American (1920)
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
- Mom and Dad (1944)
- The Music Man (1962)
- Power of the Press (1928)
- A Raisin in the Sun (1961)
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
- San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, April 18, 1906 (1906)
- The Sting (1973)
- A Time for Burning (1966)
- Toy Story (1995)