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Precious Images is a 1986 short film by Chuck Workman that was commissioned by the Directors Guild Of America to honor their 50th anniversary. It features clips from 470 films ranging from 1903 (The Great Train Robbery) to 1985 (Rocky IV). The clips are all very short, a half-second each, resulting in a dizzying collage that attempts to sum up all of movie history in exactly eight minutes. The montage took around three months to complete.

Upon its release, the short gained a tremendous amount of popularity and was screened all around the country. The following year, it won the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film, and in 2009 it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. In both cases, it is the only film montage to receive such an honor.

It was re-released in 1996 with additional clips from Do the Right Thing, Forrest Gump, and so on. It is said to be the most watched short of all time.

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Tropes:

  • Book Ends: The montage begins and ends with the legendary opening scene from Citizen Kane.
  • Fully Automatic Clip Show: The entire short is one.
  • Genre Roulette: The short showcases numerous movies from every single film genre.
  • Match Cut: This was perhaps what popularized the idea of film montages showing a clip from a movie of a character doing one thing, and then to follow it up with another movie clip of a character doing something identical. The most notable example is the transition shots from Musical to Horror/Thriller, which first shows Esther Williams' character in Million Dollar Mermaid descending into water with her arms outstretched, and then shows a clip of the opening scene from Jaws of Chrissie in the water with her arms outstretched as well.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: A visual collage of film history, but no story.
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  • Montages: One of the most finest examples.
  • Shout-Out: Shout Out: The Movie, as the film is nothing but brief clips from notable films.
  • Stock Footage: The whole film.
  • Updated Re Release: Upon being released again in 1996, many movies from the late '80s and early/mid '90s were added into the film.


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