Each year, the Library of Congress adds exactly 25 movies to the National Film Registry. Thousands of potential films from the entire history of cinema are evaluated for this honor. Those limited few that get chosen are determined to be “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” works that are “selected because of their enduring significance to American culture.” These are the cream of the crop, the very pinnacle of the art form – movies that innovate, movies that inspire, movies that define who we are… Except this year, when the Registry added ‘Forrest Gump‘. That horrible sound you hear is me puking blood in disgust.
Seriously, has no one on the selection committee actually watched this putrid shitfest of a motion picture? I’ve written before about my absolute loathing for ‘Forrest Gump’. I could rant about it some more if you’d like, but I’m already giving myself an ulcer just thinking about it. To the very core of my bitter, hardened soul, I despise every hateful frame of that movie. We as a species would be better served if any trace of its existence could be purged from the historical record. Yet the Library of Congress considers it one of the most important films ever made, worthy of preservation for all eternity? Gag.
I find the inclusion of ‘The Silence of the Lambs‘ less personally offensive. It’s a good picture, if overrated. Even so, I question the need to add relatively recent and very popular movies like these to the National Film Registry. Isn’t the whole point of the Registry to preserve works that are in some danger of being lost to history? Both ‘Gump’ and ‘Lambs’ were blockbuster hits that already have the endorsement of Academy Award wins behind them. They’re both guaranteed to be treated as crown jewels by their respective studios. With only 25 spots on the Registry open per year, there simply have to be other movies more in need of the attention.
I can at least see a case for ‘El Mariachi‘. It may not be an objectively good movie. (It’s basically just cheapo exploitation claptrap.) But the film helped kick off the low-budget indie movement of the 1990s and opened the door for minority directors in Hollywood.
The complete list of this year’s additions is below. They span the range from acknowledged classics (Disney’s ‘Bambi‘ or Chaplin’s ‘The Kid’) to forgotten early works by important directors (John Ford’s ‘The Iron Horse’), long-neglected masterpieces (‘Porgy and Bess’), populist fare (George Pal’s ‘War of the Worlds’), and experimental obscurities (‘Allures’).
You would be forgiven if you’ve never heard of a lot of these movies. Honestly, I was only familiar with about half of them. You can read descriptions of them, along with arguments in their favor, in the official Library of Congress announcement. The ‘Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies’ and the Frank Capra war documentary ‘The Negro Soldier’ sound particularly fascinating, and certainly a lot more worthy of inclusion in the Registry than ‘Forrest Gump’.
- ‘Allures’ (1961)
- ‘Bambi’ (1942)
- ‘The Big Heat’ (1953)
- ‘A Computer Animated Hand’ (1972)
- ‘Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment’ (1963)
- ‘The Cry of the Children’ (1912)
- ‘A Cure for Pokeritis’ (1912)
- ‘El Mariachi’ (1992)
- ‘Faces’ (1968)
- ‘Fake Fruit Factory’ (1986)
- ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994)
- ‘Growing Up Female’ (1971)
- ‘Hester Street’ (1975)
- ‘I, An Actress’ (1977)
- ‘The Iron Horse’ (1924)
- ‘The Kid’ (1921)
- ‘The Lost Weekend’ (1945)
- ‘The Negro Soldier’ (1944)
- ‘Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies’ (1930s-1940s)
- ‘Norma Rae’ (1979)
- ‘Porgy and Bess’ (1959)
- ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991)
- ‘Stand and Deliver’ (1988)
- ‘Twentieth Century’ (1934)
- ‘War of the Worlds’ (1953)
Unfortunately, while being placed in the Film Registry may grant some of these movies a little bit of attention and exposure, and guarantees that at least one copy of each will be archivally preserved in the Library of Congress, it does not necessarily assure that any of them will be released to the public on home video if they haven’t already been.
[via Some Came Running]