What do the films Casablanca, Blazing Saddles, and West Side Story have in common? Besides being popular, they have also been deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," by the Library of Congress and listed on the National Film Registry. These Amazing Shadows tells the history and importance of The Registry, a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and indeed the American experience itself. The current list of 525 films includes selections from every genre - documentaries, home movies, Hollywood classics, avant-garde, newsreels and silent films. These Amazing Shadows reveals how American movies tell us so much about ourselves...not just what we did, but what we thought, what we felt, what we aspired to, and the lies we told ourselves. Written by
"These Amazing Shadows" is a very inspiring film. You cannot watch it without feeling a strong sense of the importance of film preservation and film as an important part of our history. However, the film suffers from trying to do WAY too much in much to short a time. I could easily see several films or even a series come out of this material and felt the film just went way too fast.
The beginning of the film talks about the fragile nature of nitrate film stock (the standard for movies until the mid-1950s). You see how the film tends to stick together or turn to powder--though this is a bit rushed, as they never really talked about how combustible these old films are as well. And then you get to hear some film preservationists from the Library of Congress talk about their love of their work. I LOVED this part of the film and really wished they had just focused on this or perhaps done so a bit longer.
The next portion of the film is the biggest problem. A sampling of SOME of the films on the National Film Registry is given and folks say a few blurbs about them and what stands out about these films. Well, considering how important and great these films are, they certainly deserved MUCH more about why they were chosen and why they are so unique. It felt like someone trying to encapsulate the entire Bible or American History in 90 minutes or less! Overall, this is a nice introduction into film preservation and the National Registry, but better films on similar subjects have been made--ones that are more thorough and less episodic--such as "Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinémathèque". Well worth seeing nevertheless.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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