Libraries in the Movies

Today's list combines two of my favorite things, books and movies.  Libraries don't often show up in movies, but when they do, they often make for great cinema.  Following are some of my favorite library moments from the movies:
  1. Beauty and the Beast.  I wouldn't have thought twice about marrying the Beast if it meant gaining access to that amazing library ...!
  2. Something Wicked This Way Comes.  Few people have seen this film adaptation of one of my favorite Ray Bradbury stories, which is a shame because the scene in the town library where Mr. Dark, the hauntingly evil Illustrated Man, vies for Jason Robard's soul is seriously chilling.
  3. Ghostbusters.  It was this movie - specifically, the genuinely hilarious scene in which the boys "bust" the ghost of a librarian - that introduced me to the wonder that is the New York City Public Library.
  4. Shawshank Redemption.  Appropriately, the prison library is where Andy flees to escape the inhumanity and injustice of his imprisonment.  (The symbolism isn't exactly subtle.)
  5. Music Man.  A whole, gorgeous dance number erupts in the town library when charming fraudster Harold Hill comes a'callin' to woo the town's librarian. 
  6. The Mummy/The Mummy Returns.  True, libraries play bit roles in both these features, but they make my top 10 anyway because they feature a female librarian kicking butt, which there just isn't enough of in film.
  7. Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Before Richard Gere seduced Julia Rogers with opera in Pretty Woman, George Peppard was seducing Audrey Hepburn with books in this Hollywood classic.
  8. Inkheart.  In this adaptation of a childrens' book, a girl learns that her father has the ability to liberate fictional characters from their books.  If only I could figure out a way to liberate Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice ...!
  9. National Treasure: Book of Secrets.  You knew a whole movie about a book was going to have to make this list, but that cool chase scene in the Library of Congress definitely seals the deal.
  10. The Name of the Rose.  The quintessential movie about libraries, as the whole plot revolves around the power of the written word to shape human discourse.  
Honorable Mentions:
  1. The Breakfast Club.  Though the whole movie takes place in a library, I'm exiling it from my top 10 because the library doesn't actually have anything to do with the plot.  I still remember thinking the first time I saw the movie: why are you guys just sitting there sulking when you're surrounded by BOOKS?
  2. Cue montage* of characters studying or researching in libraries, featuring: Sean Astin's deperate attempt to get admitted to Notre Dame in Rudy; a rapidly ailing Tom Hanks researching gay rights in Philadelphia; Russell Crow in A Beautiful Mind, desperately clinging to sanity among the stacks at the Princeton library; Harry Potter in the library at Hogwarts, frantically researching ways to breathe underwater in time for Triwizard Tournament; Matt Damon, armed with his a public library education, smacking down that jerk from Harvard in Good Will Hunting; and (of course) Kevin Bacon reading from The Book at that town meeting in Footloose.  (*Feel free to choose your own background music for the montage, but Gonna Fly Now from Rocky definitely accompanies my version.)

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