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"Return of the Jedi," "The Fellowship of the Ring," "WALL-E" added to the National Film Registry

The concluding chapter of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, along with the opening chapter of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, are each being awarded a special honor: preservation for future generations by the Library of Congress, as part of the National Film Registry.

"Return of the Jedi" and "The Fellowship of the Ring" are among the 25 motion pictures that are being inducted into the Registry this year, the Library announced Tuesday. 

The latest additions also include "WALL-E," the Oscar-winning Pixar animated film; Alfred Hitchcock's masterful thriller, "Strangers on a Train"; "A Nightmare on Elm Street," which introduced Freddy Krueger to horror film fans; and "Richard Pryor: Live in Concert," a momentous standup performance by the incomparable comedian.

Also: "Stop Making Sense," a remarkable concert film starring the Talking Heads; "Selena," Jennifer Lopez's breakthrough starring role as singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez; and the uproariously bad-taste John Waters flick, "Pink Flamingos."

Twenty-five films are added annually to the Registry, chosen for their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to America's film heritage. The Registry, which was initiated in 1989, spans all genres of Hollywood studio and independently-produced films, as well as documentaries, animation and experimental films, newsreels, music videos, and even home movies.

"Films help reflect our cultural history and creativity — and show us new ways of looking at ourselves," said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. 

Titles being added include notable productions featuring African American casts, from the silent 1926 aviator drama, "The Flying Ace," to the 1972 drama "Sounder," to the 1975 teen comedy, "Cooley High," to the landmark 1996 queer mock-documentary, "The Watermelon Woman."

While spotlighting cinematic achievements of the past, the Registry also protects our nation's film heritage by requiring preservation copies of each title be stored at the Library. Because of the fragility of motion picture film, about 70 percent of movies from the early years of cinema are lost – damaged, deteriorated, destroyed by fire, or neglected by the studios that created them.

The 2021 additions bring the total number of films in the Registry to 825.

For details about each of the 25 films named this year, dating from 1902 to 2008, check out the gallery below.

Reacting to news of "The Fellowship of the Ring" being named, Peter Jackson and his "Lord of the Rings" collaborators Fran Walsh and Phillppa Boyens, praised the actors, artists, composers, musicians, linguists and digital wizards who helped achieve the first installment of the trilogy twenty years ago: "In 1951, Professor Tolkien expressed the wish that '... other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama...' might one day come to the world of middle-earth. And they did ... a myriad of talent came together to bring his vast work of imagination to life on the screen." 

"The Fellowship of the Rings" would be nominated for 13 Academy Awards, and win four Oscars. Collectively, the trilogy would be nominated for 30 Oscars and win 17, including best picture for "The Return of the King." 

Another notable technical landmark is inducted this year: the first use of three-strip Technicolor, in the 1932 Walt Disney cartoon "Flowers and Trees." And a bit of music history: a 1965 student film created by two future members of the rock group The Doors.  

On Turner Classic Movies this Friday, December 17, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden will join TCM host and film historian Jacqueline Stewart for a special screening of a selection of this year's new additions.

Selected titles from the National Film Registry are freely available online at the National Screening Room on the Library's website.

Want to nominate a movie to the National Film Registry? Visit the Library of Congress' nomination page here. Movies must be at least 10 years old to be eligible.        

Films Selected for the 2021 National Film Registry (in alphabetical order):

  1. "Chicana" (1979) 
  2. "Cooley High" (1975) 
  3. "Evergreen" (1965)
  4. "Flowers and Trees" (1932) 
  5. "The Flying Ace" (1926) 
  6. "Hellbound Train" (1930) 
  7. "Jubilo" (1919) 
  8. "The Long Goodbye" (1973) 
  9. "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001) 
  10. "The Murder of Fred Hampton" (1971) 
  11. "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984) 
  12. "Pink Flamingos" (1972) 
  13. "Requiem-29" (1970) 
  14. "Richard Pryor: Live in Concert" (1979) 
  15. "Ringling Brothers Parade Film" (1902) 
  16. "Selena" (1997) 
  17. "Sounder" (1972) 
  18. "Star Wars Episode VI — Return of the Jedi" (1983) 
  19. "Stop Making Sense" (1984) 
  20. "Strangers on a Train" (1951) 
  21. "WALL-E" (2008)
  22. "The Watermelon Woman" (1996) 
  23. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962) 
  24. "Who Killed Vincent Chin?" (1987) 
  25. "The Wobblies" (1979) 
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