Tuesday, March 13, 2012


While watching the film Super 8 this past weekend, there was a massive train wreck with explosions galore. I turned to my wife and half-jokingly said, "This scene is so Spielbergian!" Now, I understand the film was directed by J.J. Abrams, but Steven Spielberg was the executive producer, and I'd like to imagine that he managed to put in his touches here and there. While the explosion scene seemed right in the wheelhouse of Abrams (the creator of the Alias and Lost television shows and director of the 2009 Star Trek film, among other projects), there was a scene a bit later on that seemed to be heavily influenced by Spielberg. It is just a simple scene of the junior high-aged lead character coming out of his house, getting on his bike and riding away. The way the camera pulls back slowly to reveal him biking into the surrounding neighborhood captured the perfect combination of energy and wonder that only a young teen, a bike, and a summer vacation can bring. It was a direct echo from the Goonies, E.T., or even Empire of the Sun. "Now that," I exclaimed, my finger leveled at our TV, "is Spielbergian."

As the movie continued, I was hyper-aware of the tug of emotions that were pulling at me, and I considered how much of an expert heartstring yanker Steven Spielberg has become throughout his career. He is certainly attuned to the human condition and has become adept at putting it on-screen.

Films made by Steven Spielberg have certainly affected me throughout my life, whether it be:
  • Jamie jumping and identifying the American planes at the top of his lungs while they are bombing his Japanese prison camp in Empire of the Sun
  • Mikey talking about Troy's bucket and Mouth ruing his failed dreams in the Goonies
  • The stunned wonder of the scientists as they first encounter the live exhibits of Jurassic Park
  • Private Ryan, in his later years, kneeling in front of Captain John Miller's tombstone and gasping in remembrance of the sacrifice of his fellow soldiers
  • Indiana Jones riding his horse accompanied by the Raider's March.
You get the idea. If there was ever a master of creating that swelling feeling in your chest that creeps slowly into your throat and makes you want pump your fist into the air (or fight a tear in your eye), then he or she would have to thumb wrestle Steven Spielberg for top honors in that category.

Spielberg is my guy for a slam-dunk favorite movie. Who are some of your favorite directors?

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