When you're talking about the greatest films of all time, surely a list of 9 or 10 films instantly pops into your head. While your list may be different than mine, there is an expectation that certain films that have stood the test of time belong on that list whether you like them or not.
Titles such as Citizen Kane, The Godfather and The Searchers are all time films thanks to their impact on not only film but society as well and that has given them a place at or near the top of the greatest of all time. While it is a subjective medium some things are undeniable and those films that come around occasionally, the ones that stand out amongst the rest, have a place where they can go for eternal celebration. I'm talking about the National Film Registry.
Each year, since 1989, up to 25 films that are considered "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" get selected for prosperity and lifetime preservation. It was the National Film Preservation Act of 1988 that got the ball rolling and with a 100+ years of films to choose from, they had some catching up to do. In 1989 the National Film Preservation Board had the very difficult task of selecting the first 25 films that would be kept safe from harm for all time. Films that would be protected and preserved so that future generations of fans would always have the opportunity, in the event of a catastrophe, to experience the best that cinema had to offer.
The board, in their ultimate wisdom, selected George Lucas's 1977 masterpiece Star Wars as one of the first films to be placed in the NFR. Not only was it the most recent film selected, it was also probably the only genre film on a list which includes Singing in the Rain, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Gone with the Wind.
We all know the impact Star Wars had on the lives of millions of fans and the industry itself, but we must remember not everyone was happy about the changes that had occurred because of it. Gone, temporarily, was the arthouse cinema of the 60s and 70s and Star Wars, along with Jaws, ushered in the dawn of the "summer blockbuster". Lucas and Star Wars changed not only how films were made and how they looked, but almost as importantly, how they were marketed. The modern-day Hollywood machine owes a great deal of debt to Lucas and his galaxy of Skywalkers, droids, scoundrels and princesses.
So, I can think of no film that was more deserving, by the NFR’s own definition, to be part of that inaugural list. As for the rest? Lucas’s second Star Wars installment, The Empire Strikes Back, would follow A New Hope in 2010 and to this day be the only other Star Wars film on the registry.
For more information and hours of fun, go to the National Film Preservation Board website where you can have your say on the next class of films to be forever preserved.
Till next time...MTFBWY.
2/21 - Anthony Daniels
2/21 - Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Special Edition (1997)
3/1 - Lupita Nyong'o
3/2 - John Altman
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