Return of the Jedi, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Pink Flamingos Are Among the Latest Films Selected for the National Film Registry
By Jake Rossen
If Star Wars needed any additional insurance in support of its longevity, it got it on Tuesday when the Library of Congress named 1983’s Return of the Jedi to its National Film Registry.
Jedi was one of several films announced as joining the Registry, which seeks to promote the preservation of movies it deems culturally indispensable. Alfred Hitchcock's murder-swap thriller Strangers on a Train, John Waters’s joyfully repulsive Pink Flamingos, and Wes Craven's iconic slasher A Nightmare on Elm Street also made the cut this year. Other notable entries include Cooley High, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Sounder, The Long Goodbye, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, WALL-E, Selena, Richard Pryor: Live in Concert, and Stop Making Sense, among others.
While major Hollywood movies often dominate the list, smaller movies that made an impact are also celebrated. The Library added The Murder of Fred Hampton, a 1971 documentary about the murder of the Black Panther party leader at the hands of law enforcement, a story that was also the basis for 2020’s Judas and the Black Messiah. Additionally, 1987’s Who Killed Vincent Chin?, a documentary examining the killing of a Chinese engineer in Detroit by two white auto workers who were never imprisoned for the crime, made this year's list.
In order to be eligible for inclusion, a film must be at least 10 years old and lay a claim to being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant in the eyes of the Librarian of Congress (who works in concert with the National Film Preservation Board) or the general public, which can also offer up films for nomination. (This year, Jedi earned the most public votes of any new addition to the list.) Twenty-five films make it into the Registry each year, with 2021 bringing the total number of films in the registry up to 825.
The LOC doesn’t actively preserve the films it names. Instead, the list is intended to raise awareness for selections so the people responsible for maintaining them can make decisions about how they’re best protected. It’s also not a “best of” list, though odds are that if a film is selected, it’s probably worthy of attention.
And yes, both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back are already included. Star Wars was added in 1989, with Empire added in 2010. The prequels are not currently on the Registry.
[h/t The Hollywood Reporter]