These Amazing Shadows (2011) – Paul Mariano, Kurt Norton

These Amazing Shadows was fish in a barrel for me. As a cinephile I’m hopelessly addicted to movies so a documentary about the National Film Registry obviously held my interest. The doc is a 90 minute PSA about the importance of film preservation centering on the creation and the process of the NFR, which selects 25 movies a year to be enshrined in the Library of Congress. Interviewees included committee members, filmmakers and Zooey Deschanel. That film preservation is important is nothing you have to convince me of and the interviews are fascinating and revealing and it’s fun to hear about people’s takes on various films. On top of which I learned about a few things, most notably about Topaz (not the Hitchcock), a home video turned movie, previously unknown to me, made by a man who’s family was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. The movie is basically on the same level as CBS’s AFI specials, of which I’m also a great admirer, but not much more. It does seem to me that people are vaguely annoyed with Citizen Kane, it’s very quickly glossed over in These Amazing Shadows. It was one of the first films selected in the Registry’s initial year and the only time I remember it being discussed was someone saying something to the effect of “Well, of course, we have Citizen Kane in there,” with an eyeroll. I gather people are tired of talking about it. Orson Welles surely reached that point.

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