Saturday, October 21, 2017
Directed by Susan Lacy, Spielberg is a documentary film about the life and career of one of the key figures in cinema in Steven Spielberg. The film chronicles many of the films Spielberg made including some of his rarely-seen student and home movies he made when he was a kid as well as the themes of the films he made told by the man himself as well as many of his collaborators as well as film critics, filmmakers, and members of his family. The result is a fascinating and lively film from Susan Lacy.
The name Steven Spielberg is often synonymous with populist cinema as some claimed that he started the Blockbuster era with 1975’s Jaws and would continue to give the film industry a jolt in the arm financially through films such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones film series, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, and Jurassic Park. While he had been criticized from moving American cinema away from personal and more serious subject matter that had dominated in the 1970s. There are those that disagreed with that sentiment including Spielberg himself as he states that many of his films are personal. The difference is that they’re big personal films as his parents Arnold Spielberg and Leah Adler as well as sisters Anne, Nancy, and Sue will agree to that as there’s scenes from his films that is based on his own life and the life of his family.
Among the themes Spielberg often explored is family as it relates to the dysfunctional family life he had when he was young when his parents split up as well as his own growing pains as a child and teenager. Part of his reasons in making Schindler’s List had to do with his own issues about his Jewish faith as he felt ashamed of being a Jew when he was young and had ignored until he married actress Kate Capshaw in 1991 who got him to come to terms with his Jewish faith. Capshaw would be at his side when he made the film as he also chose not to profit from any financial success of the film in order to create a foundation that allowed Holocaust survivors to give their testimonies. It’s among the one of many stories Spielberg would tell as well as why he would make films outside of his comfort zone like The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence as a way to challenge himself but also know his limits as a storyteller.
The film also explore some of the business ventures he did such as founding Dreamworks with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen as well as producing other films for other filmmakers while remaining friends with filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, and Brian de Palma who are also interviewed in the film. Even film critics/historians such as A.O. Scott, Annette Insdorf, David Edelstein, J. Hoberman, and Janet Maslin talk about why his films endure and still matter as well as revealing why Spielberg has had a polarizing relationship with critics despite being championed early in his career by the famed critic Pauline Kael. Collaborators such as cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and screenwriter Melissa Mathison are both interviewed in the film before their respective deaths in 2016 and 2015 as well as Spielberg’s mother who died in February 2017 as the film is dedicated to her as they all talk about Spielberg’s gift in telling stories as well as stories about children. While films such as Always, Hook, The Terminal, and The Adventures of Tintin aren’t mentioned with the other films that are discussed in the documentary at the time Spielberg was in production for his 2015 film Bridge of Spies. Susan Lacy does provide a great insight into his body of work with the aid of editor Deborah Peretz in compiling footage from those films as well as some rare making-of footage.
Cinematographers Ed Marritz and Samuel Painter would film many of the interviews what were filmed which would feature many of the actors who worked with Spielberg along with collaborators who are often part of Spielberg’s filmmaking family. Sound editor Steve Borne would compile some of the audio from other interviews including clips from other films as much of the music that is played on the film is from many of Spielberg’s films which is mainly the music composed by John Williams.
Spielberg is a marvelous film from Susan Lacy. Not only is the film essential for fans of the filmmaker but also an engaging documentary that explore many of the filmmaker’s methods in making films as well as the kind of stories he want to tell. Even as it offers some rare footage of his personal life without revealing too much and give the man the chance to speak for himself as he’s still a vital force in the film industry. In the end, Spielberg is a remarkable film from Susan Lacy.
Steven Spielberg Films: (Duel (1971 TV film)) – (The Sugarland Express) – (Jaws) – (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) – (1941) – (Raiders of the Lost Ark) – (E.T.: The Extraterrestrial) – (Twilight Zone: the Movie-Kick the Can) - (Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom) – (The Color Purple) – (Empire of the Sun) – (Always) – (Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade) – (Hook) – (Jurassic Park) – Schindler's List - (The Lost World: Jurassic Park) – (Amistad) – Saving Private Ryan - (A.I. Artificial Intelligence) – (Minority Report) – Catch Me If You Can - (The Terminal) – (War of the Worlds (2005 film)) – (Munich) – (Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) – (The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn) – (War Horse) – (Lincoln) – (Bridge of Spies) – (BFG) – (The Post (2017 film)) – (Ready Player One)
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