The National Film Registry announced the addition of 25 American films to be preserved at the Library of Congress as national treasures Wednesday.
To join the National Film Registry, a movie must be at least 10 years old and have enduring cultural or historical signficance. The public nominates films and the members of the National Film Preservation Board votes on which to add to the registry. Up to 25 films may be added each year and for 2012, the board chose the maximum number.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said, “These films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture. They reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.” “
"Breakfast At Tiffany's,” “The Matrix,” “Dirty Harry,” “A Christmas Story,” “A League of Their Own” and “Uncle Tom's Cabin” headline the list of films that will be added to the registry. “The Matrix” is the most recent among them, having been released in 1999.
Speaking of the significance of “The Matrix,” Billington said, “The film’s visual style, drawing on the work of Hong Kong action film directors and Japanese anime films, altered science fiction filmmaking practices with its innovative digital techniques designed to enhance action sequences. Directors Andy and Lana Wachowski and visual effects supervisor John Gaeta (who received an Academy Award for his efforts) expertly exploited a digitally enhanced simulation of variable-speed cinematography to gain ultimate control over time and movement within images.”
The oldest film selected to the registry is “The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Title Fight,” filmed in 1897. Boxing films, and footage of title fights, were huge moneymakers at the time, according to Billington. The success of boxing films helped make the movies a viable commercial enterprise. In addition to “Corbett-Fitzsimmons,” the other sports film added to the registry was “They Call It Pro Football,” which Billington said was described as the “Citizen Kane” of sports films.
Many of these movies, such as “Breakfast at Tiffany's,” need no introduction for how they have influenced American culture. “Breakfast at Tiffany's” starred Audrey Hepburn and is based on the novella by Truman Capote. Hepburn's iconic black dress, the character of Holly Golightly as well as the song “Moon River” are just a few cultural highlights from the film. "Dirty Harry" features the iconic character of Harry Callahan played by Clint Eastwood and one of the most memorable quotes uttered in film history.
Other films added to the registry include some of the best examples of innovative filmmaking in America, including “Slacker,” directed by Richard Linklater, and “Two-Lane Blacktop,” directed by Monte Hellman. Several documentaries were also added to the registry. “One Survivor Remembers” is a film focused on the recollections of Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein, “Samsara: Death and Rebirth in Cambodia” examines how the country rebuilds after Pol Pot, and “The Times of Harvey Milk” documents the life of the slain San Francisco politician and the gay rights movement.