Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has named 25 motion pictures—classics from every era of American filmmaking—to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, including “Bullitt,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Grand Hotel,” “Oklahoma!” and “12 Angry Men.”
The selections were made as part of a program aimed at preserving the nation’s movie heritage. Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act of 1992, each year the Librarian of Congress, with advice from the National Film Preservation Board, names 25 films to the National Film Registry to be preserved for all time. The films are chosen because they are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. This year’s selections bring to 475 the number of motion pictures in the registry.
“Even as Americans fill the movie theaters to see the latest releases, few are aware that up to half the films produced in this country before 1950—and as much as 90 percent of those made before 1920—are lost forever,” said Billington. “The National Film Registry seeks not only to honor these films, but to ensure that they are preserved for future generations to enjoy.”
With the passage of decades, more and more films are vanishing due to deterioration of the nitrate stock on which older films were shot, or to the more recently discovered “vinegar syndrome,” which threatens the acetate-based stock on which most motion pictures were reproduced.
Each year, hundreds of titles are nominated by the public, the National Film Preservation Board and the Library’s Motion Picture Division staff to be on the list of National Registry films.
Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, Congress established the National Film Registry in 1989 and reauthorized the program in April 2005 when it passed the “Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005” (Public Law 109-9).
“This legislation signifies great congressional interest in ensuring that motion pictures survive as an art form and a record of our times,” Billington said.
Among other provisions, the law reauthorized the National Film Preservation Board, mandated that the Librarian and Board update the national film preservation plan (published in the mid-1990s) as needed, increased funding authorizations for the private sector National Film Preservation Foundation, and amended Section 108(h) of U.S. Copyright Law, which enables libraries and archives to make works in their final 20 years of copyright protection accessible for research and education if the works are not already commercially available.
For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations, either through the Library’s massive motion- picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion-picture studios and independent filmmakers.
National Film Registry 2007 Additions
- “Back to the Future” (1985)
- “Bullitt” (1968)
- “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977)
- “Dance, Girl, Dance” (1940)
- “Dances With Wolves” (1990)
- “Days of Heaven” (1978)
- “Glimpse of the Garden” (1957)
- “Grand Hotel” (1932)
- “The House I Live In” (1945)
- “In a Lonely Place” (1950)
- “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962)
- “Mighty Like a Moose” (1926)
- “The Naked City” (1948)
- “Now, Voyager” (1942)
- “Oklahoma!” (1955)
- “Our Day” (1938)
- “Peege” (1972)
- “The Sex Life of the Polyp” (1928)
- “The Strong Man” (1926)
- “Three Little Pigs” (1933)
- “Tol’able David” (1921)
- “Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son” (1969-71)
- “12 Angry Men” (1957)
- “The Women” (1939)
- “Wuthering Heights” (1939)