'Willy Wonka,' 'Saving Private Ryan,' 'Big Lebowski' added to National Film Registry
Each year, the Library of Congress selects 25 films to be named to the National Film Registry, a proclamation of commitment to preserving the chosen pictures for all time. They can be big studio pictures or experimental short films, goofball comedies or poetic meditations on life. The National Film Registery "showcases the extraordinary diversity of America’s film heritage and the disparate strands making it so vibrant" and by preserving the films, the Library of Congress hopes to "a crucial element of American creativity, culture and history.” This year’s selections span the period 1913 to 2004 and include a number of films you’re familiar with. Unless you’ve never heard of "Saving Private Ryan," "The Big Lebowski," “Rosemary’s Baby” or "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
Highlights from the list include the aforementioned film, Arthur Penn’s Western "Little Big Man," John Lasseter’s 1986 animated film, “Luxo Jr.," 1953’s “House of Wax,” the first full-length 3-D color film produced and released by a major American film studio, 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” and Howard Hawks’ 1959 Western “Rio Bravo."
The silent films selected for preservation include 1919’s “The Dragon Painter," starring Hollywood’s first Asian star, Sessue Hayakawa; the 1916 social drama examining poverty and prostitution, “Shoes”; and “Unmasked,” the 1917 film directed and scripted by its star Grace Cunard. The National Film Registery’s press release also indicates that it has added seven reels of untitled and unassembled footage featuring vaudevillian Bert Williams, the first African-American Broadway headliner and the most popular recording artist before 1920.
If you’re curious why we need a National Film Registry: In 2013, the Library of Congress released a report that conclusively determined that 70 percent of the nation’s silent feature films have been lost forever and only 14 percent exist in their original 35 mm format. This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 650, which is a small fraction of the Library’s vast moving-image collection of 1.3 million items.
For the full list of Registry inductees, as well as background on each entry, head to the next page.