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 in The National Film Registry, a roll call of American cinema treasures that reflects the diversity of film, and indeed, the American experience itself. This unique list of 525 films includes selections from every genre documentaries, home movies, Hollywood classics, avant-garde, newsreels and silent films. American movies tell us so much about ourselvesnot just what we did, but what we thought, what we felt, what we imagined, what we aspired toand the lies we told ourselves.
These Amazing Shadows is an 85-minute documentary rich with imagery, interweaving clips from Americas most-beloved films (and many rarer treasures) with moving personal tales of how specific films have reflected our culture and changed lives. The film includes interviews with the Librarian of Congress (Dr. James Billington), distinguished directors (including Christopher Nolan, John Lasseter, Rob Reiner, John Singleton, Amy Heckerling, and John Waters), producers (Gale Anne Hurd and James Schamus), archivists, admired actors (Tim Roth, Debbie Reynolds, Peter Coyote), and members of the National Film Preservation Board.
These Amazing Shadows documents the passage of the National Film Preservation Act of 1988 and how this law set in motion a system to identify notable films. The Librarian of Congress, with input from the public and advice from the National Film Preservation Board, selects twenty-five films each year to add to the Registry. These Amazing Shadows goes behind the scenes to show the discussions, the debates and the drama that surround this selection process.
Shot on HD and imparting a warm film look, the documentary explores the cultural impact and historical significance of American films. These Amazing Shadows shows us how American cinema is truly our family album.
As stated by Dr, James Billington, the Librarian of Congress: American film really transformed the way in which a young nation learned to express itself, express its exuberance, expose its problems, and reflect its hopes. It wasnt simply a form of entertainment; it was living historyaudio-visual history of the twentieth century.
These Amazing Shadows explores the impact that films have had on our national memory and on American attitudes. The tumultuous and still unsettled history of race relations is reflected and examined in such disparate films as D.W. Griffiths The Birth of a Nation, John Fords The Searchers, and John Singletons Boyz n the Hood. The role and importance of women in filmmaking is revealed, from the pioneering work of Lois Weber and Dorothy Arzner to the recent work of Amy Heckerling and Julie Dash. And Rick Prelinger takes a humorous look at the influence and impact of such cold war propaganda films as Duck and Cover and The House in the Middle.
Films effect deep emotional connections with audiences. As the film critic, author and National Film Preservation Board member Jay Carr stated: Stories are profoundly important to human beings. Inter-cut with key film scenes, interviewees share the nearly universal experience of being swept away by a film. Liz Stanley, archivist at the Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, Library of Congress, recounts, I got involved in film archiving because I saw Gone with the Wind when I was twelveand, to think that I might have a part in some other 12-year-old girl seeing a movie that changes their life is really exciting to me, just making sure that those images are around for generations after Im gone is very, very exciting.
The documentary explores why film endures as one of the most important mediums of art and entertainment and describes what is being done to preserve Americas film heritage.
For over a century, American movies have forged emotional connections with millions of viewers, providing a portal to our past, defining our present, and imagining our future. American films helped shape a global cultural language, connecting audiences across borders and different belief systems. Just as our ancient ancestors shared stories to connect and thrive, we too share the stories of our lives through our films. These Amazing Shadows shows us the importance of American films as our family album.