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Terminator Survives

Dec. 30 2008, Updated 1:26 p.m. ET

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When Arnold Schwarzenegger uttered, "I'll be back" in the original 1984 film The Terminator, he wasn't kidding. That film, and 24 others, have been selected for preservation by the Library of Congress as part of the National Film Registry.

What does this mean?

"The registry helps this nation understand the diversity of America's film heritage and, just as importantly, the need for its preservation," says Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "The nation has lost about half of the films produced before 1950 and as much as 90 percent of those made before 1920."

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The problem is that over time, the chemicals used for film deteriorate. What the Library of Congress does is digitize and preserve the selected films at its Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, a $250 million bunker near Culpeper, Virginia.

Other films added to the list this year (which brings it to 500) include Hallelujah from 1929; the 1967 film adaptation of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood; and the 1972 film Deliverance.

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