From screen to eternity: movie images are saved

Darth Vader proclaiming that he's Luke Skywalker's father, John Travolta preening in his underwear and an early 20th-century deaf activist communicating in sign language are among the images that are to be preserved for eternity.

The 25 films selected include The Empire Strikes Back, the 1980 sequel to Star Wars that many critics and fans consider the best of George Lucas' six Star Wars films. Empire shocked viewers with the revelation that masked villain Darth Vader was the father of hero Skywalker.

Lucas' Star Wars and American Graffiti are also among the 550 titles in the registry.

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The Library of Congress in Washington DC announced the films selected yesterday.

Original copies of films picked for the registry are kept safe and available for viewing by future generations. The library acquires copies to preserve in its cold-storage vaults among millions of other recordings.

Film can deteriorate if poorly stored. About half of pre-1950 films and 90 per cent of those made before 1920 have been lost, said James Billington, Librarian of Congress.

The selections also include Saturday Night Fever, John Badham's 1977 hit starring Travolta as disco king Tony Manero, and Preservation of the Sign Language, a two-minute film by George Veditz, one-time president of the National Association of the Deaf of the United States.