“Return of the Jedi” is now on the National Film Registry
If Star Wars needed extra insurance for its longevity, it got it on Tuesday when the Library of Congress appointed the years 1983 Return of the Jedi to its National Film Registry.
Jedi was one of many films advertised as joining the Registry, which seeks to promote the preservation of films it deems culturally essential. Alfred Hitchcock’s murder swap thriller Strangers on a train, John Waters is gleefully repulsive Pink flamingos, and Wes Craven’s signature slasher Freddy also made the cut this year. Other notable entries include Cooley Haute, What happened to Baby Jane?, Sounder, The long goodbye, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, WALL-E, Selena, Richard Pryor: in concert, and Stop making sense, among others.
While big Hollywood movies often dominate the list, smaller movies that made an impact are also celebrated. The added library 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 also formed the basis of the 2020s Judas and the Black Messiah. In addition, the years 1987 Who killed Vincent Chin?, a documentary examining the murder of a Chinese engineer in Detroit by two white auto workers who have never been jailed for the crime, is on this year’s list.
To be eligible for inclusion, a film must be at least 10 years old and claim to be culturally, historically or aesthetically significant to the Librarian of Congress (who works in concert with the National Film Preservation Board) or the general public, who may also nominate films. (This year, Jedi won most public votes of any new additions to the roster.) Twenty-five films are entered on the register each year, 2021 bringing the total number of films on the register to 825.
The LOC does not actively preserve the films it names. Instead, the list is meant to grow consciousness for selections so that those responsible for their maintenance can make decisions about how best to protect them. It is also not a “best of” list, although there is a good chance that if a film is selected, it is probably worth considering.
And yes, both Star wars and The Empire Strikes Back are already included. Star wars was added in 1989, with Empire added 2010. Prequels are not currently on the registry.
[h/t The Hollywood Reporter]