‘Empire Strikes Back’, ‘Exorcist’ named US cultural icons
WASHINGTON — “The Exorcist,” the “Star Wars” sequel and “All the President’s Men” were named to the Library of Congress National Film Registry, joining 22 other motion pictures honored this year as key reflections of US culture.
Spanning the period 1891-1996, the films will be preserved for generations to come. These “works of enduring significance to American culture” ranged from Hollywood blockbusters to independent films and shorts.
George Lucas’s 1967 student film — a 15-minute short called “Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB” — made the cut, along with his extraordinarily popular sequel of the “Star Wars” epic space saga, “The Empire Strikes Back,” directed by Irvin Kershner, who died this year.
There was also disco phenomenon “Saturday Night Fever” (1977), which launched John Travolta’s movie career; horror classic “The Exorcist” (1973) directed by William Friedkin; and “All the President’s Men” (1976) the Oscar-winning film adaptation of journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s uncovering of the Watergate political scandal.
Also included in the registry were lesser-known features like the black independent film “Cry of Jazz,” Luis Valdez’s “I Am Joaquin” and John Huston’s 1946 war documentary “Let There Be Light,” which the Pentagon banned for 35 years.
This year’s selection brought the number of films in the registry to 550.
“As the nation’s repository of American creativity, the Library of Congress — with the support of the US Congress — must ensure the preservation of America’s film patrimony,” Librarian of Congress James Billington said in a statement.
“The National Film Registry is a reminder to the nation that the preservation of our cinematic creativity must be a priority because about half of the films produced before 1950 and as much as 90 percent of those made before 1920 have been lost to future generations.”
More than 2,100 films were nominated by the public this year.