Every year since 1989 the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry has selected twenty-five short films and full-length features to be recognized, in the words of the librarian of Congress James H. Billington, as “cultural, historical, or aesthetic cinematic treasures.” From Citizen Kane and Star Wars to Woodstock and This is Spinal Tap, each year’s list contains some of the most beloved and significant films ever made, and now the Dude and Ferris Bueller get to join their ranks.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1998 comic thriller The Big Lebowski, which has become a certified cult classic in the sixteen years since its theatrical, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning World War II drama Saving Private Ryan, and John Hughes’ endlessly quotable high school comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off are among this year’s additions to the National Film Registry, bringing the total amount of films in the Registry to 650.
One thing some people might not know (including myself before reading this), is that the United States was responsible for more films in the 20th century than any other country, but when it came to all of the silent movies made in the late 1800s to early 1900s, only 20% of them still exist.
The reason for this is a combination of things. On one end, a lot of films of the Silent Era were lost to lack of care and the natural deterioration that comes with time. On another end, American film studios owned all rights to their movies, and they handled international distribution their own way…even down to subtitling the pictures themselves. In doing this, they often changed the title to better suit the various foreign countries the movie was being released in. Combine all of these things together, and you have yourself a perfect storm of methods for losing cinematic artifacts to time.
A very exciting story for fans of cinema comes today, however, with word that Russia has found and identified ten films in their state archive. All ten movies are from the Silent Film Era, and include long-lost titles from renowned directors such as Cecile B. DeMille (The Greatest Show On Earth, The Ten Commandments) and Victor Fleming (Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz).
Head on over to the other side to check out a full list of the movies that were found.