The transcendent power of musical genius, as heard in the films "Purple Rain" and "Amadeus"; the graphic and transformational horrors of war in Oliver Stone's "Platoon"; and Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz," which helped redefine the modern documentary-concert film, are just a few of the milestone movies being inducted today into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.
Twenty-five films are added each year to the Registry, which are chosen for their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to America's film heritage, in order that they be preserved for future generations. The Registry spans all genres of Hollywood studio and independently-produced films, as well as documentaries, animation, experimental films, newsreels, and even home movies.
Titles added to the Registry this year include "Purple Rain," which marked the film debut of Prince in a semi-autobiographical musical that won an Oscar for Best Original Song Score; Milos Forman's "Amadeus," in which court composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) seeks to destroy the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), whose talent he can nowhere near match; and "Platoon," the first Hollywood film about the Vietnam War directed by a Vietnam veteran, which became a cathartic experience for many former service members.
Also: "Coal Miner's Daughter," showcasing Sissy Spacek's Oscar-winning performance as country music star Loretta Lynn; the psychological thriller "Gaslight," in which Ingrid Bergman's husband tries to drive her slowly insane; the heart-wrenching tragedy of a transgender man's murder in "Boys Don't Cry," starring Hilary Swank; and "The Last Waltz," documenting the final performance of the rock group The Band (with a squadron of stellar guests artists) at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.
Also inducted are two Disney classics, "Old Yeller" and the animated "Sleeping Beauty"; and the documentaries "The Fog of War" (Errol Morris' interrogation of former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara), and "Beyond Stonewall" (which examines the lives of closeted homosexuals before the 1969 Stonewall Riots).
Notable cinema debuts are recognized, from the first films starring Paul Robeson ("Body and Soul") and America Ferrera ("Real Women Have Curves"), to the first features directed by Elaine May ("A New Leaf"), Spike Lee ("She's Gotta Have It"), and Kevin Smith ("Clerks"). Smith's slacker comedy received the most votes from the public nominating this year's additions.
Other landmarks of film history include "Becky Sharp" (1935), the first three-strip Technicolor feature, and a 1903 newsreel of emigrants landing on Ellis Island.
The 2019 additions bring the total number of films in the Registry to 775.
The additions were announced by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. "Unlike many other honors, the registry is not restricted to a time, place or genre. It encompasses 130 years of the full American cinematic experience – a virtual Olympiad of motion pictures," she said.
While spotlighting cinematic achievements of the past, the Registry also protects our nation's film heritage by requiring preservation copies of each title be stored at the Library. Because of the fragility of motion picture film, about 70 percent of films from the early years of cinema are lost – damaged, deteriorated, destroyed by fire, or neglected by the studios that created them.
"With the support of Congress, the studios and other archives, we are ensuring that the nation's cinematic history will be around for generations to come," said Hayden.
Selected titles from the National Film Registry are freely available online at the National Screening Room on the Library's website.
Want to nominate a movie to the National Film Registry? Visit the Library of Congress' nomination page here.
Films Selected for the 2019 National Film Registry (in alphabetical order):
- "Amadeus"" (1984)
- "Becky Sharp" (1935)
- "Before Stonewall" (1984)
- "Body and Soul" (1925)
- "Boys Don't Cry" (1999)
- "Clerks" (1994)
- "Coal Miner's Daughter" (1980)
- "Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island" (1903)
- "Employees Entrance" (1933)
- "Fog of War" (2003)
- "Gaslight" (1944)
- "George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute" (1937)
- "Girlfriends" (1978)
- "I Am Somebody" (1970)
- "Last Waltz, The" (1978)
- "My Name Is Oona" (1969)
- "A New Leaf" (1971)
- "Old Yeller" (1957)
- "The Phenix City Story" (1955)
- "Platoon" (1986)
- "Purple Rain" (1984)
- "Real Women Have Curves" (2002)
- "She's Gotta Have It" (1986)
- "Sleeping Beauty" (1959)
- "Zoot Suit" (1981)