For far too long, beloved blockbuster franchises have gotten less respect than Rodney Dangerfield. But that tide may finally be turning in their favor, as both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings received entrance into the National Film Registry.
Each year, the Library of Congress selects films that are deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” to become the latest entries into the National Film Registry. One of the biggest criticisms leveled at the NFR is that it values certain genres (primarily dramatic films that are more likely to win Oscars) while overlooking others (blockbusters, horror, comedy).
However, this year’s list is filled with entries that show the Library of Congress may be broadening its outlook. Most notably, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi both were chosen. This is not the first Star Wars movie selected (in fact, the original film was included in the first group of inductees in 1989) but it is the first time Lord of the Rings has been invited.
Fellowship of the Ring was a massive success both critically and commercially, earning nearly $900 million worldwide and receiving 13 Academy Award nominations. But there are still those who would dismiss a movie like this simply because of lazy generalizations around the fantasy genre. Thankfully, that proved not to be the case here.
Perhaps even more significant is the inclusion of Nightmare on Elm Street, as horror is right up there with rom-coms as genres that are unfairly derided by film snobs. Classics like Halloween and Alien have managed to receive entry but overall, the National Film Registry has been extremely selective when it comes to horror.
Hopefully, these types of selections shut down the lazy narratives that movies with Jedis or hobbits or superheroes should not be taken seriously when it comes to discussing film and its rich, and varied, history.