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'The Dark Knight' and 'The Blues Brothers' join National Film Registry
“The Blues Brothers” (1980).

by Dave Itzkoff

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- As the oft-quoted line from “The Dark Knight” goes, “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Now a more respectable immortality awaits this 2008 Christopher Nolan superhero blockbuster, which earned Heath Ledger a posthumous Academy Award for his performance as the Joker: It is among the memorable motion pictures, along with “Shrek,” “A Clockwork Orange” and “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song,” that have been chosen for preservation this year on the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.

On Monday, the library made its annual announcement that it has selected a new roster of 25 films, from 1913 to 2010, that will be honored for their historical and cultural significance and added to this registry, helping to preserve them for future generations.

Those selections include milestone films like “Lilies of the Field,” the 1963 drama for which Sidney Poitier became the first Black man to win best actor at the Oscars; and “The Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow’s 2008 war drama for which she became the first woman to win the best director Oscar.

This year’s list also includes “Kid Auto Races at Venice,” the 1914 Keystone Studios comedy that was the first released film to feature Charlie Chaplin playing the character of the Little Tramp.

Commercial hits like the animated “Shrek” (2001); the musical “Grease” (1978); and “The Blues Brothers” (1980), the comedy based on John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s recurring “Saturday Night Live” characters, have been chosen as well.

The library noted that this year it had added nine films directed or co-directed by women. They include “Outrage” (1950), a drama from Ida Lupino starring Mala Powers as a rape victim recovering from her trauma; “Suspense” (1913), a silent thriller written by, starring and co-directed by Lois Weber; and Kathleen Collins’ “Losing Ground” (1982), one of the few features of its time to be written and directed by a Black woman.

All told, seven films from people of color were selected this year, the library said. They also include Melvin Van Peebles’ blaxploitation thriller “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” (1971); and “Freedom Riders” (2010), Stanley Nelson’s documentary about 1960s civil rights activism in segregated America.

Additional films include Otto Preminger’s drug-addiction drama “The Man With the Golden Arm” (1955), which starred Frank Sinatra; “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the dystopian Anthony Burgess novel; Wayne Wang’s “The Joy Luck Club” (1993), adapted from the Amy Tan novel; the concert film “Wattstax” (1973); and Wim Wenders’ musical documentary “Buena Vista Social Club” (1999).

The Library of Congress said in a statement that these additions brought the total number of titles on its preservation registry to 800. Films must be at least 10 years old and “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” to be considered. Nominations can be made by the public at and selections are made by Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress.

A television special, featuring several of these films and discussions between Hayden and film historian Jacqueline Stewart, will be shown Tuesday evening on TCM.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

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