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‘The Lion King,’ ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ Added to National Film Registry

1994 animated Disney feature and 1988 groundbreaking hybrid live-action/animation movie directed by Robert Zemeckis among 25 films to be preserved by the Library of Congress.

‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ introduced a new sense of realism into the interactions between cartoons and live-action characters on screen.

Disney’s The Lion King and Who Framed Roger Rabbit are among 25 films that will be preserved by the Library of Congress.

Each year the library chooses films for preservation which are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” To be eligible for preservation, films must be at least a decade old. This year’s 25 additions brings the total number of preserved films to 700.

“Disney Studios further solidified its position as the producer of modern-day animated masterpieces with this lyrical 1994 offering,” the Library of Congress writes in its citation of The Lion King (which is due to be remade as a live-action film directed by Jon Favreau):

“The story of a young lion cub destined to become King of the Jungle, but first exiled by his evil uncle, The Lion King was a triumph from the moment of its release and has charmed new generations of viewers.  Like Disney’s beloved Bambi, The Lion King seamlessly blends innovative animation with excellent voice-actors (Jonathan Taylor Thomas, James Earl Jones, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick and Whoopi Goldberg) and catchy, now-classic songs by Sir Elton John and Tim Rice.  It is the film’s storytelling that resonates -- funny, innovative, suspenseful -- for both children and adults. Since its release, the film has spawned an animated TV series, two made-for-video sequels and a highly imaginative Broadway show.”

The citation for director Robert Zemeckis’s groundbreaking hybrid live-action/animation film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, meanwhile, evokes the Golden Age of Animation to which the movie paid homage:

“Described by Roger Ebert as ‘not only great entertainment but a breakthrough in craftsmanship,’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit introduced a new sense of realism into the interactions between cartoons and live-action characters on screen. In this film noir comedy, set in a 1940s Hollywood where cartoon characters are real, private investigator Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is hired to prove the innocence of the accused murderer and uncontrollably crazy ‘toon’ Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer), with memorable appearances by Roger’s voluptuous wife, Jessica Rabbit (voiced by Kathleen Turner), and the chillingly evil Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd). The film evokes a love for the golden age of animation, represented through the construction of Roger Rabbit himself, who embodies Disney’s high-quality animation, Warner Bros.’ character design and Tex Avery’s sense of humor. The spirit of the film is artfully summarized in this one line: ‘I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.’  Executive producer Steven Spielberg worked tirelessly to negotiate the use of over 140 beloved cartoon characters in the film, making this the first time Warner Bros. and Disney characters shared the screen and the last time Mel Blanc voiced Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck before his death in 1989.

The full list of films added to the National Registry can be found on the Library of Congress website.

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.