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National Film Registry Year by Year


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Hours for Jerome: Parts 1 and 2 (1980-82)

Nathaniel Dorsky shot the footage for what would become his silent tone poem, "Hours for Jerome," between 1966 and 1970. He edited that footage over a two-year period. The film's title evokes the liturgical "Book of Hours," a medieval series of devotional prayers recited at eight-hour intervals throughout the day. Dorsky's personal devotional loosely records the daily events of the filmmaker and his partner as an arrangement of images, energies and illuminations. The camera intimately surveys the surroundings, from the pastoral to the cosmopolitan, as fragments of light revolve around the four seasons. "Part 1" presents spring through summer and "Part 2" looks at fall and winter—a full year in 45 minutes. Named filmmaker of the decade in 2010 by Film Comment magazine, Dorsky creates his works to be projected at silent speed, between 17 and 20 frames per second instead of the usual 24 frames per second for sound film. Projecting his films at sound film speed, he writes, "is to strip them of their ability to open the heart and speak properly to their audience. Not only is the specific use of time violated, but the flickering threshold of cinema's illusion—a major player in these works—is obscured."

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The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (1980)

The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter

The first of director Connie Field's many documentaries, "Rosie" focuses on the women who joined the workforce during World War II in defense industry jobs typically held by men. Inspired by the cultural icon depicted in posters and songs during the war, Field interviews five real-life "Rosies" who describe their work experiences and their reactions to giving up their jobs to returning GIs. The 60-minute documentary combines newsreel footage with on-camera interviews with five Rosies: Wanita Allen, Gladys Belcher, Lyn Childs, Lola Weixel and Margaret Wright. They tell it like it was: harassment, discrimination and all, but clearly remain proud of their wartime accomplishments and the impact their efforts had on women and all society.

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Moon Breath Beat (1980)

Lisze Bechtold created "Moon Breath Beat," a five-minute color short subject, in 1980 while a student at California Institute of the Arts under the tutelage of artist and filmmaker Jules Engel, who founded the Experimental Animation program at CalArts. Engel asked, hypothetically, "What happens when an animator follows a line, a patch of color, or a shape into the unconscious? What wild images would emerge?" "Moon Breath Beat" reveals Bechtold responding with fluidity and whimsy. Her two-dimensional film was animated to a pre-composed rhythm, the soundtrack cut together afterward, sometimes four frames at a time, to match picture with track, she says. The dream-like story evolved as it was animated, depicting a woman and her two cats and how such forces as birds and the moon impact their lives. Following graduation, Bechtold was the effects animator for the Disney short "The Prince and the Pauper" (1990) and principal effects animator for "FernGully: The Last Rainforest" (1992). Now primarily an author and illustrator, she claims many of her characters were inspired by pets with big personalities, including "Buster the Very Shy Dog," the subject of her series of children's books.

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Raging Bull (1980)

Raging Bull

Hard hitting is the character, hard hitting is the film. Martin Scorsese painted a visceral portrait of prizefighter Jake LaMotta, and Robert DeNiro fleshed out that portrait, literally and figuratively. DeNiro famously gained 60 lbs. for the role, donned a prosthetic nose and walked away with an Academy Award. DeNiro adroitly captures the fighter's success in the ring and contrasts it to a personal life full of rage, jealousy, and suspicion which ultimately left LaMotta destitute, alone, and seeking redemption. Scorsese's vision is expertly executed by Thelma Schoonmaker's editing of cinematographer Michael Chapman's footage. Joe Pesci and Cathy Moriarity give Oscar-nominated performances.

The expanded essay is below this description.

https://www.loc.gov/static/programs/national-film-preservation-board/documents/raging_bull.pdf

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Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980)

The debut feature of writer, director and editor John Sayles, this film exemplifies early "indy" films with their minimal budgets and fast shooting schedules. Sayls' lack of funds and frills defines the feel of the film centered on a group of friends, anti-war demonstrators in the '60s, who've matured in the decade following their activism. Some remain true to their principles, others sell out to conventional values. Its bare-bones structure accentuated by Altman-like editing and overlapping dialog, along with naturalistic acting by Sayles and David Strathairn among many others, and Sayles' insightful script distinguish the film among other indies of its time.

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Zoot Suit (1981)

Innovative in its presentation, which is largely a filmed stage play, director Luis Valdez's "Zoot Suit" relates the real-life story of Los Angeles' 1942 "Sleepy Lagoon Murder" and the racially charged "Zoot Suit Riots" that occurred in its wake. A highly stylized musical, the film nevertheless retains the power of its source material. Daniel Valdez, Edward James Olmos, Charles Aidman and Tyne Daly make up the cast while the music is supplied by Daniel Valdez and Lalo Guerrero, considered the father of Chicano music, among others.

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The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

Director Penelope Spheeris' controversial documentary about the Los Angeles hard-core punk rock scene circa 1980 was perceived as shocking by some, even prompting the L.A. police chief Daryl Gates to request banning all screenings of the film. Despite the qualms, the work remains a bracing historical and musical record of that culture, mixing outrageous performances and whirling mosh-pits with far more restrained interviews. Featured bands include Black Flag, Fear, X, The Germs and Circle Jerks. Scenes of older club owners making game attempts to describe this new type of music prove comic highlights. Spheeris made two other musical documentaries in this trilogy, chronicling the hair-metal and gutter-punk scenes, and—in a definite change of pace—the 1992 "Wayne's World."

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Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indiana "Indy" Jones (Harrison Ford) is no ordinary archeologist, whether he's in a Peruvian jungle searching for a solid gold idol or on a quest to keep the Ark of the Covenant out of the hands of the Nazis, who believe it will make them invincible. When Indy seeks out an old friend to aid in his quest, he's reunited with the man's daughter, Marion (Karen Allen), with whom Indy was once involved, and the two become partners in one action-packed adventure after another. A joint project of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, the script was co-written by Lawrence Kasdan and Philip Kaufman, among others, and spawned three sequels.

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The Atomic Café (1982)

Produced and directed by Kevin Rafferty, Jayne Loader and Pierce Rafferty, the influential film compilation "The Atomic Cafe" provocatively documents the post-World War II threat of nuclear war as depicted in a wide assortment of archival footage from the period (newsreels, statements from politicians, advertisements, training, civil defense and military films). This vast, yet entertaining, collage of clips serves as a unique document of the 1940s-1960s era and illustrates how these films—some of which today seem propagandistic or even patently absurd ("The House in the Middle")—were used to inform the public on how to cope in the nuclear age.

The expanded essay is below this description.

https://www.loc.gov/static/programs/national-film-preservation-board/documents/AtomicCafe.pdf

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Suzanne, Suzanne (1982)

This insightful 30-minute documentary profiles a young black woman, Suzanne Browning, as she confronts a legacy of physical abuse and its role in her descent into substance abuse. The film was conceived by Browning's aunt, Camille Billops, as a sort of cinematic drug intervention. Family remembrances revealed the truth behind the addiction: Suzanne and her mother were victims of domestic abuse at the hands of the family patriarch. Armed with the key to her own self-destructive behavior, Suzanne struggles to understand her father's brutality and her mother's passive complicity. After years of silence, Suzanne and her mother are finally able to share their painful experiences with each other in an intensely moving moment of truth. Directed by Billops and James Hatch, this film essay captures the essence of a black middle-class family in crisis.

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Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner

A blend of science fiction and film noir, "Blade Runner" was a box office and critical flop when first released, but its unique postmodern production design became hugely influential within the sci-fi genre, and the film gained a significant cult following that increased its stature. Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a retired cop in Los Angeles circa 2019. L.A. has become a pan-cultural dystopia of corporate advertising, pollution and flying automobiles, as well as replicants, human-like androids with short life spans built for use in dangerous off-world colonization. Deckard, a onetime blade runner – a detective that hunts down rogue replicants – is forced back into active duty to assassinate a band of rogues out to attack earth. Along the way he encounters Sean Young, a replicant who's unaware of her true identity, and faces a violent confrontation atop a skyscraper high above the city.

The expanded essay is below this description.

https://www.loc.gov/static/programs/national-film-preservation-board/documents/blade_runner.pdf

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Chan Is Missing (1982)

Considered a seminal work of Asian-America cinema, director Wayne Wang's film is a tale of two San Francisco cab drivers hunting down the elusive Chan of the title who has absconded with $4,000 of their money. A wry comedy, the film is also a heart-felt travelogue of San Francisco's Chinatown and an important statement on the Asian-American experience far removed from the "Fu Manchu" and "Charlie Chan" stereotypes of motion pictures past.

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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Written by Melissa Mathison and directed by Steven Spielberg, this film chronicles the relationship between a young boy (Henry Thomas) and a benevolent alien who is stranded on Earth and trying to find his way back to his home planet. The film's masterful blending of hopeful innocence with excitement and humor made it both a critical and popular success. Grossing more than $600 million worldwide, "E.T" became the highest-grossing film of the 1980s. Nominated for nine Academy Awards, the film took home Oscars in several technical categories. In addition to Thomas, the film's cast also includes Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore and Peter Coyote. Sound designer Ben Burtt created the vocals for the alien by blending the voices of a host of uncredited individuals, principally Pat Welsh and Debra Winger.

The expanded essay is below this description.

https://www.loc.gov/static/programs/national-film-preservation-board/documents/ET.pdf

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Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Among the best teen comedies, this 1980s cultural icon combines a sympathetic treatment of adolescence with hilarious performances. Directed by Amy Heckerling, the film was based on a script by 22-year old Rolling Stone writer (and later film director) Cameron Crowe, who spent nine months undercover as a student at Redondo Beach's Ridgemont High School. The cast contains an appealing mix of soon-to-be-famous young talent (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold) confronting their raging hormones as they hang out at the mall and endure jobs in fast-food restaurants. Most memorable is Sean Penn as the spaced-out surfer dude Jeff Spicoli.

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Tootsie (1982)

Tootsie

An unsuccessful actor (Dustin Hoffman) disguises himself as a woman to land a role on a soap opera. As the assertive Dorothy Michaels, he confronts sexist double-standards, and discovers that the experience makes him a better man. The film is directed by Sydney Pollack, who appears in the film alongside Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Teri Garr, and Jessica Lange, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

The expanded essay is below this description.

https://www.loc.gov/static/programs/national-film-preservation-board/documents/tootsie.pdf

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A Christmas Story (1983)

Humorist Jean Shepherd narrates this memoir of growing up in Hammond, Ind., during the 1940s when his greatest ambition was to receive a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. The film is based in part on Shepherd's 1966 compilation of short stories titled "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash," which originated on his radio and television programs. Writer-director Bob Clark had long dreamed of making a movie based on Shepherd's work and his reverence for the material shows through as detail after nostalgic detail rings true with period flavor. Dozens of small but expertly realized moments reflect an astute understanding of human nature. Peter Billingsley—with his cherubic cheeks, oversized glasses and giddy grin—portrays Shepherd as a boy. Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon are his harried-yet-lovable parents.

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El Norte (1983)

Following a brother and sister (David Villalpando and Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez) who flee from ethnic and political persecution in Guatemala to the United States, this sweeping story infused with Mayan folklore was written, produced and directed by Gregory Nava and Anna Thomas husband and wife team that had studied film at UCLA. Described by Variety as the "first American independent epic," the film received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

The expanded essay is below this description.

https://www.loc.gov/static/programs/national-film-preservation-board/documents/el_norte.pdf

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Koyaanisqatsi (1983)

This film produced and directed by Godfrey Reggio is so lyrically unusual that it nearly defies description. A documentary with virtually no dialog, the film is akin to the city symphonies of the '20s and '30s, such as "Manhatta" and "A Bronx Morning," both of which have been named to the Registry. Philip Glass's minimalist compositions accentuate Reggio's metaphoric commentary on technology and modern society. Reggio claimed his film had no message. The film impressed critic Roger Ebert, who found it unassailably beautiful, as "an invitation to knee-jerk environmentalism of the most sentimental kind."

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The Right Stuff (1983)

The Right Stuff

At three hours and 13 minutes, Philip Kaufman's adaptation of Tom Wolfe's novel is an epic right out of the Golden Age of Hollywood, but thanks to its assortment of characters and human drama, it rarely drags. Director/screenwriter Kaufman ambitiously attempts to boldly go where few epics had gone before as he recounts the nascent Space Age. He takes elements of the traditional Western, mashes them up with sophisticated satire and peppers the concoction with the occasional subversive joke. As a result, Kaufman (inspired by Wolfe) creates his own history, debunking a few myths as he creates new ones. At its heart, "The Right Stuff" is a tribute to the space program's role in generating national pride and an indictment of media-fed hero worship. Remarkable aerial sequences (created before the advent of CGI) and spot-on editing team up to deliver a movie that pushes the envelope.

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Michael Jackson's Thriller (1983)

Possibly the most famous of music videos, the 13-minute "Thriller" caused such a buzz that it was also released theatrically in 35mm. As a follow-up to his smash 1982 album and single, Michael Jackson revolutionized the music industry with this lavish and expensive production. Filmmaker John Landis ("Animal House" and "The Blues Brothers") directed and co-wrote the video.

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Amadeus (1984)

Milos Forman directed this deeply absorbing, visually sumptuous film based on the lives and rivalry of two great classical composers — the brash, youthful Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the good, if not truly exceptional, Antonio Salieri. Based upon Peter Shaffer's highly successful play, which Shaffer personally rewrote for the screen, "Amadeus," though ostensibly about classical music, instead shines as a remarkable examination of the concept of genius (Mozart) as well as the jealous obsession from less-talented rivals (Salieri). In an Oscar-winning performance, F. Murray Abraham skillfully lays bare the tortured emotions (admiration and covetous envy) Salieri feels for Mozart's work: "This was the music I had never heard...It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God. Why would God choose an obscene child to be his instrument?"

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Before Stonewall (1984)

In 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. After years of harassment, this infamous act proved a tipping point and led to three days of riots. The Stonewall riots are credited with launching the modern gay civil rights movement in the U.S. Narrated by Rita Mae Brown, "Before Stonewall" provides a detailed look at the history and making of the LGBTQ community in 20th-century America through archival footage and interviews with those who felt compelled to live secret lives during that period. Elements, prints and a new 2016 digital cinema package are held in the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project Collection at the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

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Purple Rain (1984)

By 1984, Prince was already being hailed by critics and fans as one of the greatest musical geniuses of his generation. This post-modern musical secured his place as a movie star and entertainment legend. Largely autobiographical, "Purple Rain" showcased the late, great showman as a young Minneapolis musician struggling to bring his revolutionary brand of provocative funk rock to the masses. The film's soundtrack includes such decade-defining tracks as "When Doves Cry" and the title song. The film's multi-platinum soundtrack previously was named to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.

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Hair Piece: A Film for Nappy Headed People (1984)

hair_piece.jpg Courtesy of Ayoka Chenzira

"Hair Piece" is an insightful and funny short animated film examining the problems that African-American women have with their hair. Generally considered the first black woman animator, director Ayoka Chenzira was a key figure in the development of African-American filmmakers in the 1980s through her own films and work to expand opportunities for others. Writing in the New York Times, critic Janet Maslin lauded this eccentric yet jubilant film. She notes the narrator "tells of everything from the difficulty of keeping a wig on straight to the way in which Vaseline could make a woman's hair ''sound like the man in 'The Fly' saying 'Help me!'"

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Bless Their Little Hearts (1984)

Part of the vibrant New Wave of independent African-American filmmakers to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, Billy Woodberry became a key figure in the movement known as the L.A. Rebellion. Woodberry crafted his UCLA thesis film, "Bless Their Little Hearts," which was theatrically released in 1984. The film features a script and cinematography by Charles Burnett. This spare, emotionally resonant portrait of family life during times of struggle blends grinding, daily-life sadness with scenes of deft humor. Jim Ridley of the "Village Voice" aptly summed up the film's understated-but- real virtues: "Its poetry lies in the exaltation of ordinary detail."

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