Martin Scorsese, The National Film Registry, And Office Space

I’ve said to more than one friend that there’s a difference between a movie and a film. I wasn’t always able to articulate what I meant so I would give examples. Avengers: Age of Ultron is a movie. The Ice Storm is a film. A movie is all frills and spectacle. A film is something viewers engage in and with. A film makes you think. You can turn your brain off and watch a movie. It doesn’t demand anything more from the viewer than the time between the opening and closing credits.

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins. Added 2013.

Recently Martin Scorsese caught a certain amount of grieve from social media when he called Marvel movies “theme parks.” More recently Scorsese added “Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption.” Whether or not die-hard Marvel fans agree with him, most certainly did not, he has a valid point. Movies are consumed, they’re not digested. 

Many fans cried when characters died in Avengers: Infinity War. Death is a loose concept in both comic books and comic book movies. Characters die in one comic book only to come back a few issues later. Spider Man died in space, but he was back in Avengers: Endgame. While these people were crying over Spider Man’s death they were cheering the character was going to be in a new movie a few short months later. 

Back to the Future

Back to the Future. Added 2007.

This isn’t the case in a film. Death has meaning and its effect can be wide ranging. The family in Ordinary People was never the same after the son died off screen and before the movie even started. Billy in The Departed is not walking out of the elevator. Collin Sullivan is not walking out of his apartment to appear in another movie. No casting agent will ever take auditions for a young Travis Bickle to appear in the Taxi Driver prequel.

What does Scorsese’s opinion of Marvel movies have to do with the National Film Registry? Other than the fact that Scorsese has three films on the National Registry and more are likely to be added in the future? Scorsese’s opinion doesn’t take into consideration the audience. Not everyone wants to be engaged or have their viewpoint on a certain subject matter challenged. Some people just want to be entertained and nothing more. 


Goodfellas. Added 2000.

The National Film Registry is perhaps one of the only places a movie and film share the space. Movies, films, documentaries, commercials, home movies, and a music video from MTV’s heyday can be found on the list. As stated on the National Film Board website the films on the list are not the best films to have ever been released, in some cases it would be a hard argument to make that a particular film wasn’t the best, but rather the films are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and “works of enduring importance to American culture.” 

Yes, Marvel movies are theme parks. However, even theme parks can find their way onto the Nation Film Registry. Movies like Jurassic Park, Jaws, and The Nutty Professor can be found along side films like Goodfellas, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Lost Weekend. If I were a betting  man (and I am) I would lay good money on The Black Panther being the first Marvel movie added to the registry.

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary’s Baby. Added 2014.

The National Film Preservation Board and its mission should be important to every cinephile and movie goer. A lot of movies have been lost. Other films exist only in bits and pieces. Its the mission of the National Film Preservation Board to “ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s film heritage.”

To bring attention to the National Film Board’s mission we plan to watch, review, comment, analyze the entries on the Film Registry. Some we’ve seen, some we haven’t seen. Some you may have seen and some you may not have seen. Who’s to say how long this project will last? Months? Years? Perhaps decades? We won’t be able to review every single one of the entries on the list. Some of the entries, either financially or the movie isn’t available, will be out of our grasp. 

National Velvet

National Velvet. Added 2003.

We’ll post articles as often as possible. Jump in anytime. Add your comments, share your thoughts, argue against or for an idea. Film isn’t just images projected on a screen. Film should be discussed. 

What about Office Space mentioned in the title of this Undiagnosed post? Office Space is still not on the National Film Registry. With your help we plan to lobby the National Film Board to add Office Space to the Registry in 2020. We can do it. Let’s make it happen.

How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley. Added 1990.

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