The National Film Registry, a list of films classified by the Library of Congress as “Culturally, Historically, or Aesthetically Significant,” gives way to blockbusters. This year’s newcomers include Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, A nightmare on Elm Street, and WALLâ¢E.which means that they are “recommended by those who have the best elements for the film,” is the mission statement of the Library of Congress. And while it isn’t an Academy Award for Best Films, it is a statement by the Library of Congress that these films “represent who we are as a people and as a nation.”
The sci-fi and fantasy classics, all of which received widespread reviews and commercial recognition when they were released, add some star power to a list of lesser-known films that are likely to need a boost. But the placement of big-budget classics provides a corrective to what Marvel President Kevin Feige recently referred to as “genre bias,” a feeling that superheroes, robots, and hobbits make a movie less palatable to Oscar voters and the critical community could do.
It’s hard to argue that any of these films received a lot of negative bias –Companions of the Ring is part of the trilogy that ultimately won Best Film. Of the top films on this list, Wes Cravens nightmare had arguably the longest trip, usually characterized by Robert Englund’s terrible Freddy rather than his enormous cultural appeal. The registry’s list of horror films has many classics, but it still lacks the depth of some other genres.
Of course, it’s not just horror and science fiction films that have prejudice against them. There is racial, gender, gender, and political prejudice against films, and the Registry’s aim is to challenge that story as well.
Howard Alk’s documentary from 1971 is also among the new arrivals for 2021 The murder of Fred Hampton, which challenged the official narrative of the death of the Illinois Black Panther Party leader. There’s Cheryl Dunyes’ 1988 film The watermelon woman, which was recognized as the first full-length narrative film that was written and directed by our black lesbian about black lesbians. And that’s where Michael Shultz is influential Cooley high, a film about black high school students in Chicago that influenced Spike Lee among others.
There are also the prejudices of the time, which can mean that âolder filmsâ are all painted with the same brush. But not every film from the early days of cinema is a Charlie Chaplin comedy, and that’s why the registry probably lifts films like The flying ace, a 1926 silent film with an all-black cast about a World War I veteran returning home to work as a railroad detective.
Between the big films and the smaller treasures, there are a number of other classics by The long farewell with Elliot Gould on the legendary Talking Heads concert film Stop making sense. Hopefully for the next year, from concert films to silent films to horror, the list will further deepen Registry’s understanding of the American film experience.
Here is the full list of this year’s National Registry Inductees:
- Ringling Brothers Parade film (1902)
- Jubilo (1919)
- The flying ace (1926)
- Hellbound train (1930)
- Flowers and trees (1932)
- Strangers on a train (1951)
- What ever happened to baby jane (1962)
- Evergreen (1965)
- Requiem-29 (1970)
- The murder of Fred Hampton (1971)
- Pink flamingos (1972)
- Sounder (1972)
- The long farewell (1973)
- Cooley high (1975)
- Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)
- Chicana (1979)
- The wobblies (1979)
- Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
- A nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
- Stop making sense (1984)
- Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987)
- The watermelon woman (1996)
- Selena (1997)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
- WALLâ¢E. (2008)