A diminutive but wise teacher of the Jedi arts, a bumbling French detective and a charismatic but controversial African American leader can now rest easy — the movies they appeared in have been inducted into a prestigious list of "culturally significant" US films.
In its annual announcement, the US National Film Registry of the Library of Congress has named 25 movies which it considers ready to be added to its vault. This year's additions bring the list's total figure to 550 movies. The selection spans almost the entire history of Hollywood film-making, from 1891 to 1996.
Among the new films are two George Lucas movies from very different stages of his career. 1980's Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, which Lucas wrote but did not direct, joins his 15-minute student film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, made in 1967 at the University of Southern California, in the vaults. Blake Edwards, who died earlier this month, is honoured with the addition to the list of 1964's The Pink Panther, the first of his Inspector Clouseau films. Spike Lee finds his way into the library via Malcolm X, his 1992 biopic of the militant black leader.
Other films to make the registry include Robert Altman's 1971 naturalist "anti-western" McCabe and Mrs Miller, starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, and John Huston's Let There Be Light, a 58-minute 1946 documentary about the trauma sustained by American soldiers in the second world war. The film was commissioned by the US Army, but subsequently banned for more than 30 years for fear it would damage recruitment drives for the armed forces.
The 1980 comedy Airplane!, starring the late Leslie Nielson, also made the list, as did Elia Kazan's first feature, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, from 1945.
"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% of those made before 1920 have been lost to future generations," said the Librarian of Congress, James H Billington.
The most recent film to make the registry is Peter Hutton's Study of a River, from 1996. Far from being a blockbuster, it's a beguiling examination of the life of the Hudson river as seen through Hutton's camera lens.
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