“Purple Rain,” “Clerks,” “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Amadeus,” “Sleeping Beauty,””Boys Don’t Cry” and “The Last Waltz” are among this year’s additions to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
The list also includes 1944’s “Gaslight,” starring Ingrid Bergman in an Oscar-winning performance; the 1955 film noir “The Phenix City Story,” based on a real-life murder in Alabama; Disney’s 1957 canine tearjerker “Old Yeller”; Oliver Stone’s 1986 Best Picture winner “Platoon,” based on his own experiences in Vietnam; and Luis Valdez’s “Zoot Suit,” which tells the story of the 1943 Sleepy Lagoon Murder and the racially charged riots that followed.
A place on the list — always made up of 25 films — guarantees the film will be preserved under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act. The criteria for selection is that the movies are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant.
“The National Film Registry has become an important record of American history, culture and creativity,” said 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. 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.”
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The 2019 selections bring the number of films in the registry to 775. The 2019 registry selections span from 1903 to 2003, represented by footage of immigrants landing at Ellis Island in 1903 and the 2003 Oscar-winning documentary “Fog of War,” in which former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara reexamines his role in American military and foreign policy.
Seven of the selections are directed by women — Kimberly Peirce’s 1999 drama “Boys Don’t Cry”; the 1984 documentary “Before Stonewall,” directed by Greta Schiller; Claudia Weill’s 1978 “Girlfriends”; Gunvor Nelson’s 1969 avant-garde film “My Name is Oona”; Madeline Anderson’s 1970 “I Am Somebody,” considered the first documentary on civil rights directed by a woman of color; “A New Leaf,” which in 1971 made Elaine May the first woman to write, direct and star in a major American studio feature; and the 2002 indie “Real Women Have Curves,” directed by Patricia Cardoso and starring America Ferrera.
Peirce said she still considers it a “miracle” that “Boys Don’t Cry” was made. Hilary Swank won an Oscar for her portrayal of Brandon Teena.
“I fell in love with Brandon Teena and his desire to live and love as himself in a time and place where that was impossible,” Peirce said. “I felt a powerful conviction to bring Brandon to life on screen, so audiences would love him as I did and share my horror at his rape and murder. To our amazement, the world embraced Brandon. It is meaningful to me as a filmmaker, genderqueer and person that the Library of Congress has recognized ‘Boys Don’t Cry.’ This moment is a culmination; unimaginable and wonderful.”
Director Michael Apted said he was deeply moved by the selection of “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which won a Best Actress Oscar for Sissy Spacek for her portrayal of country music legend Loretta Lynn.
“It means the world to me that the world will know that ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ has been acknowledged as an important and lasting film,” he said. “For a young British director to be given the reins to capture what was truly a deep American subject was beyond rewarding.”
The selection of “Purple Rain,” the 1984 film showcasing Prince, comes seven years after the movie’s multi-platinum soundtrack was named to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.
“I am deeply honored that ‘Purple Rain’ has been selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry in 2019,” said the film’s director Albert Magnoli. “All of us strived to create a film that would capture the attention of what we believed at the time was a small audience. None of us expected this longevity. We simply worked hard every day to get it right, and this honor is a testament to the music, story and characters that were created by all of us so many years ago.”
The selections include a pair of landmarks in African American history: 1937 footage of botanist and inventor George Washington Carver and the 1925 silent film “Body and Soul,” directed, produced, written and distributed by black film pioneer Oscar Micheaux.
“With this year’s National Film Registry selections, Dr. Hayden recognizes the importance of amplifying cinematic voices and stories that have been marginalized for far too long,” said Jacqueline Stewart, chair of the National Film Preservation Board’s task force on diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Clerks” is one of the lowest-budget films in modern times on the list. It was shot for $27,575 in the convenience and video stores where director Kevin Smith worked in real life. Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” was completed in dozen days in 1985 on a budget of $175,000.
Here are this year’s films in alphabetical order:
1. Amadeus (1984)
2. Becky Sharp (1935)
3. Before Stonewall (1984)
4. Body and Soul (1925)
5. Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
6. Clerks (1994)
7. Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
8. Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island (1903)
9. Employees Entrance (1933)
10. Fog of War (2003)
11. Gaslight (1944)
12. George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute (1937)
13. Girlfriends (1978)
14. I Am Somebody (1970)
15. Last Waltz, The (1978)
16. My Name Is Oona (1969)
17. A New Leaf (1971)
18. Old Yeller (1957)
19. The Phenix City Story (1955)
20. Platoon (1986)
21. Purple Rain (1984)
22. Real Women Have Curves (2002)
23. She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
24. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
25. Zoot Suit (1981)