“Bambi” named to Library of Congress film registry

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Walt Disney’s timeless cartoon classic “Bambi” and 24 other films were selected Wednesday by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington to be preserved as cultural, artistic and historical treasures in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

Disney’s own personal favorite, this animated coming-of-age tale of a wide-eyed fawn’s life in the forest has enchanted generations since its debut nearly 70 years ago. Filled with iconic characters and moments, the film features beautiful images that were the result of extensive nature studies by Disney’s animators.

Its realistic characters capture human and animal qualities in the time-honored tradition of folklore and fable, which enhance the movie’s resonating, emotional power. Treasured as one of film’s most heart-rending stories of parental love, Bambialso has come to be recognized for its eloquent message of nature conservation.

Also named to the registry is Ed Catmull’s Computer Animated Hand (1972), which he made with Fred Parke.

Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, renowned for its CGI animated films, created a program for digitally animating a human hand in 1972 as a University of Utah graduate student project, one of the earliest examples of 3D computer animation. The one-minute film displays the hand turning, opening and closing, pointing at the viewer, and flexing its fingers, ending with a shot that seemingly travels up inside the hand. Catmull created a computer rendering of his own hand.

In creating the film, which was incorporated into the 1976 science-fiction thriller Futureworld, Catmull worked out concepts that become the foundation for computer graphics that followed. Shown on a TV monitor in the movie, it was the first computer animation to be used in a Hollywood film.

Spanning the period 1912-94, the films named to the registry also include Hollywood classics, documentaries, home movies, avant-garde shorts and experimental motion pictures. Representing the rich creative and cultural diversity of the American cinematic experience, the selections range from Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend, a landmark film about the devastating effects of alcoholism, to a real-life drama between a United States president and a governor over the desegregation of the University of Alabama.

The selections also include home movies of the famous Nicholas Brothers dancing team and such avant-garde films as George Kuchar’s hilarious short I, an Actress. This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 575.

The full list of this year’s selections:

Allures (1961)
Bambi (1942)
The Big Heat (1953)
A Computer Animated Hand (1972)
Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment (1963)
The Cry of the Children (1912)
A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
El Mariachi (1992)
Faces (1968)
Fake Fruit Factory (1986)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Growing Up Female (1971)
Hester Street (1975)
I, an Actress (1977)
The Iron Horse (1924)
The Kid (1921)
The Lost Weekend (1945)
The Negro Soldier (1944)
Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s-40s)
Norma Rae (1979)
Porgy and Bess (1959)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Stand and Deliver (1988)
Twentieth Century (1934)
War of the Worlds (1953)

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. “These films are selected because of their enduring significance to American culture,” said Billington. “Our film heritage must be protected because these cinematic treasures document our history and culture and reflect our hopes and dreams.”

Annual selections to the registry are finalized by the Librarian after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public (this year, 2,228 films were nominated) and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board. The public is urged to make nominations for next year’s registry at NFPB’s Web site (www.loc.gov/film).

In other news about the registry, These Amazing Shadows, a documentary about the National Film Registry, will air nationally on the award-winning PBS series “Independent Lens” at 10 p.m. Thursday, December 29. Written and directed by Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton, this critically acclaimed documentary has also been released on DVD and Blu-ray, and will be available through the Library of Congress Shop (www.loc.gov/shop/).

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