Libraries In the Movies
March 21, 2012
"… maybe you would have simply banned the Internet to keep the libraries open.” - I, Robot
The owner of the robotics corporation says this to Del Spooner (played by Will Smith) in the movie I Robot. Having worked in a library for 28 years, my ears perk up whenever a library or librarian is mentioned in movies. In the movie The Inside Man, a bank security guard goes up to a woman waiting in line for a teller who has been talking on her phone and asks her to keep her voice down. The woman complains to her friend on the phone, "…you’d think I was in the library." Instances like these in movies often give libraries a bad name. But luckily, not all movies depict libraries and librarians in this light.
Some early images of librarians in movies are also negative, like Shirley Jones as "Marian the Librarian" who is a spinster in The Music Man. In It’s a Wonderful Life, when Jimmy Stewart sees what life would be like for others if he had not been born, he sees that his wife (horror of horrors!) had become a librarian! Katherine Hepburn plays a corporate librarian in Desk Set who feels threatened when Spencer Tracy introduces a computer to her office.
Later images of librarians are more positive, including Goldie Hawn in Foul Play who—with the help of Chevy Chase—solves a mystery. Rachel Weisz in The Mummy plays an Egyptologist and librarian who gets swept up in adventure. Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption works quietly in the prison library while he secretly digs an escape tunnel at night.
There are also movies where the characters go to libraries to learn something to help them with a problem. In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan Kenobi goes to the Jedi Archives to try to find a planet. When he cannot, the librarian informs him that if it isn’t recorded in their archive it doesn’t exist. In several of the Harry Potter movies, Harry and his friends—Hermione and Ron—are routinely studying the history of people or places or looking for books of potions or spells to try. Gandalf goes to the library in Minas Tirath to find answers about the history of the Ring in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.
These are movies that I know about. Do you know of any others?
Blue Ridge Branch