Wednesday 23 Jul

Escape from Tomorrow

With Escape from Tomorrow, one fears the story behind the movie would loom larger than the movie itself. Luckily, that is not the case. After all, it opens with a decapitation on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.
05/06/2014 | Comments 0


William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Documentary · These Amazing Shadows

These Amazing Shadows

‘These Amazing Shadows’ documents American efforts to preserve classic films, which in turn document our nation’s cultural history.

Rod Lott June 1st, 2011

These Amazing Shadows
5:30 and 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch, 236-3100

At the start of the documentary “These Amazing Shadows,” various film lovers talk about the magic of going to the movies, using phrases like “window to the world” and “religious experience.” But the way things go at the multiplexes these days — texters, talkers, popcornmunchers — when’s the last time you felt that sense of awe?

The only place in town where film can be appreciated year-round as an art form instead of mere entertainment is the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, where “Shadows” unspools Friday through Sunday.

The doc is a love letter to the moving image, using the National Film Registry as its diving board. Created by a literal act of Congress, its board has selected 25 films of cultural, historic and/or aesthetic significance annually for preservation since 1989. From a mix of “sprocket-worn classics” to “consciousness-expanding” works, these chosen few represent snapshots of American history, whether they reflected the era or helped shape it.

As “Shadows” shows, the organization initially was about the issue of artists’ rights, at a time when media mogul Ted Turner was colorizing just about every black-and-white film he owned from studios’ vaults, whether directors liked it or not.

As Turner eventually put his digital crayons away, the registry became about making sure the films simply stick around at all. Sadly, according to “Shadows,” a full half of the movies made before the 1950s no longer exist in any form. Some are in such poor shape, they break upon contact. Other reels are shown to have decayed and hardened into hockey pucks. (See “Reel secret” on Page 61 for a look at OKCMOA’s own preservation efforts.)

“Shadows” delves into the lively debates the board has each year to determine inductees. While the registry includes your expected “Citizen Kane” and “Casablanca,” it also has made space for comparative eyebrow-raisers such as Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” or the midnight movie fave “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The stories behind their nomination and inclusion are, as one would expect, funny — you try presenting a case for a transsexual musical before Congress.

Although most of the films selected are movies, “Shadows” explains how the board has cast its net wider over time to include the occasional short, cartoon, serial, experimental work and home movie — notably Abraham Zapruder’s 8mm footage of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. To date, one music video calls the list home: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

For the casual movie watcher, “Shadows” almost operates as a primer as to how to watch film actively, rather than passively. For those who already do, it’s like revisiting a particularly treasured photo album. Even the most ardent film buff will be exposed to titles he or she never knew existed.

The only downside s trying to keep a mental “must see that” list without diverting your attention from the screen. A brush-up on your mnemonic skills before attending is, like “Shadows” itself, strongly recommended.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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