The Library of Congress has revealed the 25 movies that will be preserved as part of the National Film Registry for 2019. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden revealed this year's selections, including seven titles directed by women, which is an unparalleled number. Some of the other key additions this year include Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It and Kevin Smith's directorial debut Clerks.
This year's Library of Congress selections directed by women include Kimberly Peirce's Oscar-winning Boys Don't Cry, Greta Schiller's documentary Before Stonewall, Claudia Weill's Girlfriends, Gunvor Nelson's My Name Is Oona, Elaine May's A New Leaf, Patricia Cardoso's Real Women Have Curves and Madeline Anderson's I Am Somebody. 1971's A New Leaf is important, as May became the first woman to write, direct and star in a major feature released by an American studio. I Am Somebody also has a great deal of cultural significance, as it's the first documentary on the subject of civil rights directed by a woman of color.
Per the National Film Registry, these movies were selected "because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation's film heritage." With this year's new additions, the number of movies now preserved by the Library of Congress is up to 775. Carla Hayden had this to say in a statement.
"The National Film Registry has become an important record of American history, culture and creativity. 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. 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."
The most recent entry on the list is 2003's Fog of War, a political documentary centered on Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. The oldest entry is 1903's Emigrants Landing At Ellis Island, which contains footage of people arriving at the iconic location in New York. Kevin Smith's 1994 indie Clerks received the most public votes. Smith, taking to Twitter, shared his appreciation for being included as part of this year's additions.
"I am overwhelmed! Thank you for acknowledging our little Jersey paean to working hard at not working at all. You took the only magic trick I've ever pulled off and legitimized it, placing Clerks into legendary company! SO glad I've always paid my taxes! Thanks to all who voted!"
Disney's animated classic Sleeping Beauty is also being added this year, as is Oliver Stone's war classic Platoon. The Prince biopic/musical Purple Rain, released in 1984, will also be preserved for its historic significance. Be sure to check out the full list of 2019 National Film Registry additions from the official Library of Congress website below.
2019 National Film Registry Additions• 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• The Last Wz 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
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The Walt Disney Company is laser-focused on creating and preserving its legacy. As the conglomerate approaches its 100th anniversary in 2023, it’s easy to understand why the company looks back at its own history and wants to ensure that a specific version of that history is what becomes common knowledge. “It all started with a mouse” is the easy go-to quote from Walt Disney, even if that’s not really true. Mickey Mouse wasn’t the studio’s first hit character, let alone the studio’s first hit animated character. Of course, the flip side to wanting to create your own legacy is that people might become skeptical that the version of history you’re telling is actually what happened.
That inherent skepticism is one of many reasons that Waking Sleeping Beauty, a Disney-sanctioned and distributed documentary about one of the company’s crown jewels, is so shocking to watch a decade later.
Walt Disney Animation Studios is the linchpin of the company, and always has been. They may own Fox and Marvel and Lucasfilm and Pixar now, but none of those acquisitions and none of the related dominance would exist were it not for the feature films and shorts from the animation unit. Thus, it tracks that Disney as a whole would green-light a documentary about the studio, and specifically a massively important period in that studio’s history. That, in essence, is the pitch for Waking Sleeping Beauty: the 85-minute documentary is all about the period of time between 1984 and 1994 as Disney Animation swung from its nadir to the soaring s of The Lion King. The film is co-produced, directed, and narrated by Don Hahn, the Academy Award-nominated producer of Beauty and the Beast.
By the late 2000s, the Walt Disney Company had already begun to crystallize its legacy in documentary form. Though they weren’t released on the same wide scale as major animated or live-action releases, documentaries about some of the studio’s most well-known creative figures had become available sporadically. In 1995, the studio released Frank and Ollie, a loving look back at two of the fabled Nine Old Men of Disney Animation, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, longtime collaborators and friends. And just months before the release of Waking Sleeping Beauty, Disney released another documentary about its past, The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story.
That documentary may one day be worth its own entry in this column, if only because it, too, is surprisingly unflinching. At least, for a Disney-released documentary. The short version is that The Boys tells the story of Richard and Robert Sherman, the composing team of brothers behind the songs of Mary Poppins. The longer version is that the...