A Companion to Steven Spielberg provides an authoritative collection of essays exploring the achievements and legacy of one of the most influential film directors of the modern era. * Offers comprehensive coverage of Spielberg's directorial output, from early works including Duel, The Sugarland Express, and Jaws, to recent films * Explores Spielberg's contribution to the development of visual effects and computer games, as well as the critical and popular reception of his films * Topics include in-depth analyses of Spielberg's themes, style, and filming techniques; commercial and cultural significance of the Spielberg 'brand' and his parallel career as a producer; and collaborative projects with artists and composers * Brings together an international team of renowned scholars and emergent voices, balancing multiple perspectives and critical approaches * Creates a timely and illuminating resource which acknowledges the ambiguity and complexity of Spielberg's work, and reflects its increasing importance to film scholarship
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Notes on Contributors
Film and Television Programs: Steven Spielberg (chronological)
Part One: Industry and Agency
2 Spielberg as Director, Producer, and Movie Mogul
The Move to Producing and Early Amblin
The DreamWorks Decade
A Lion in Winter
3 Producing the Spielberg “Brand”
Spielberg as Producer
to the Shoah Foundation
The Last Days
Part Two: Narration and Style
4 Magisterial Juvenilia
: Pilot, Segment 2: “Eyes” (Nov. 8, 1969)
Marcus Welby, M.D.
Season 1, Episode 24: “The Daredevil Gesture” (Mar. 17, 1970)
: Season 1, Episode 4 segment: “Make Me Laugh” (Jan. 6, 1971)
The Name of the Game
: “L.A. 2017” (Jan. 15, 1971)
: “Murder by the Book” (Sep. 15, 1971)
(Jan. 21 1972)
5 Finding His Voice
The Sugarland Express
: Innovative Road Movies
: Spielberg’s Great Folly
6 Creating a Cliffhanger
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
7 Steven Spielberg and the Rhetoric of an Ending
The Family Reunion
Lost Children and Homecoming
8 The Spielberg Gesture
Part Three: Collaborations and Intertexts
The Hitchcock–Herrmann Legacy
A Relaxed Working Method
Spielberg’s Alter Ego
Modernism versus Romanticism
A Meticulous Maestro
A Bluesy Debut
Williams’s Favorite Score
Leading with Music
On the Edge of Camp
Back to the Fundamentals
Completing the Circle
Uniting Spielberg and Kubrick
“Beauty without Bathos”
Effulgence versus Attenuation
10 Spielberg and Kubrick
11 Spielberg and Adaptation
Adaptation and Contemporary Hollywood
Adaptation and Intertextuality
The Politics of Adaptation
12 “A very cruel death of innocence”
From Novel to Film
Childhood and Identity
Childhood, War, and Nationality
Spielberg and War Movies
Visual Images and Motifs
Part Four: Themes and Variations
13 “Who am I, David?”
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Maternal Impotence in
E.T.: The Extra‐Terrestrial
The Absent Family of the Road Movie:
The Sugarland Express
Lost Boys and Found Mothers in
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
14 Close Encounters of the Paternal Kind
A Hole in the Culture
Keeping up with the Joneses
15 Spielberg and Rockwell
Spielberg and Rockwell
Saturday Evening Post
The Historical Cycle
Catch Me If You Can versus
16 Too Brave for Foolish Pride
Part Five: Spielberg, History, and Identity
17 Morality Tales? Visions of the Past in Spielberg’s History Plays
Dark Turns of the 1990s
The Invisible Hero of Contemporary Political History: Avner Kaufman in
The Hero of American History:
The Rise of the Everyman
18 “Britain’s Secret Schindler”
Nicholas Winton’s Life and Activities
Initial Recognition of Winton’s Work
Anniversary Coverage and the Myth of Schindler
Schindler’s List and British Self‐Perception
Schindler and Myth
19 The (M)orality of Murder
Avner the Butcher
Brisket and Family
Absent Fathers and Present Mothers
Milk and Blood
Secrets and Wine
Bread and Sacrifice
“Home Sweet Home”
A Strange Absence
20 You Must Remember This
Historical Echoes: No More Munichs!
Communal Memories: Docudramas as History
From Page to Screen
Behind the Screen: Conflicts and Controversies
State‐Sanctioned Violence: Doctrines and Drones
A Note on Technical Issues
Conclusion: A Different Spielberg Movie
21 Violence and Memory in Spielberg’s
Ruptured Bodies, Ruptured Nation
The Shadow of Slavery in
Part Six: Spielberg in the Digital Age
22 The Spielberg Effects
The Shark Is Working
The Spectacular Venue: Inscribing an Audience
and the Painting of Matte
Industrial Light and Magic: A Special Relationship
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
: “Don’t be fooled …”
War of the Worlds
: “I have to see this”
23 Spielberg and Video Games (1982 to 2010)
An Overview of the Games and Their Development
Spielberg and Video Games
The Characteristics of Video Games
Fiction and Story in Video Games
Part Seven: Reception
24 Sharks, Aliens, and Nazis
Spielberg and the Art of the Blockbuster
Spielberg and the Ideology of Entertainment
Spielberg and Films with Big Ideas
25 Spielberg, Fandom, and the Popular Appeal of His Blockbuster Movies
Spielberg’s Hollywood/Brand Spielberg
History, Allusion, and Spielberg as Film Fan
The San Diego Comic‐Con and Spielberg Fandom
26 Steven Spielberg and the Rise of the Celebrity Film Director
1960s and the Rise of a Directors’ Cinema
Spielberg the Movie Brat
The Film Director as Superstar
Commerce and the Auteur
The King of Hollywood?
Spielberg as Celebrity
Index of Film and Television Programs
End User License Agreement
Table 6.1 The 174 shots of the cliffhanging sequence from
The Lost World
divided into nine segments.
Figure 4.1 Two New Waves: experimentation and abstraction:
The 400 Blows
Figure 4.2 Lost in (cinematic) space:
Figure 4.3 Frustrated dreams of escape in the deep‐focus worlds of
and “The Daredevil Gesture”: oppressive parental figures obstruct access to the door.
Figure 4.4 Wellesian blocking with a 69‐second deep‐focus shot, and
lighting and composition in “Murder by the Book”: the little guy’s unobtrusive entrance after “the longest stage wait in television history.”
Figure 4.5 Characteristic intertextuality from Spielberg’s early professional career: room‐wrecking scenes in
and “Murder by the Book.”
Figure 4.6 Possession: metonyms for lost children in
Figure 5.1 Stills from a single fast‐moving shot in
Figure 5.2 Visual interest in a film set primarily inside automobiles:
The Sugarland Express.
Figure 6.1 Stylized editing: scene transition in
The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
Figure 6.2 “Mummy’s very angry”: external focalization in
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Figure 6.3 Omniscient narration and inscription of off‐screen space in
The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
Figure 6.4 Partial disorientation through partial external focalization: shifting relationships between camera positions and characters’ perspectives in
The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
Figure 6.5 Heightened tension through analytic editing in
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
: fragmentation increases dramatic intensity.
: Spielberg’s name linked to the sun on the horizon in the middle of the final shot.
Figure 7.2 Penultimate shot of
The Sugarland Express
: the men silhouetted against sunlight shimmering on the river as Slide’s handcuffs are removed. Ironic final titles.
: Brody and Hooper wade ashore at the end of the last shot.
Figure 7.4 The ending as a crucial boundary in
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
(top), in which the wider horizon opened up is the infinity of the universe; compare
(bottom), which finishes by focusing on the World Trade Center – a suggestion there will be no end to the cycle of violence.
Figure 7.5 A “formation of the romantic couple,” rare in Spielberg, showing his ironic stance: at the end of the last shot of
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
, milling children distract Indy and Willie from their concluding kiss while, in the background, Shortie applauds.
Figure 7.6 Sisters Celie and Nettie haloed by the sun at the end of the closing shot of
The Color Purple
Figure 7.7 Oedipal bliss in
: beginning of the last shot in which David sleeps and “dies” with his mother, Monica.
Figure 7.8 Theatrical space at the resolution of (top)
War of the Worlds
, in which Robbie, foreground, emerges from the house to greet his father Ray in the background, while in the middle ground mother Mary‐Ann and daughter Rachel reunite; and (bottom) in a stylized family reunion, by the farm gate against the sunset, in the penultimate shot of
Figure 11.1 Ben Gardner’s head in
: one of several bravura cinematic effects fortuitously resulting from the failure of “Bruce.”
: a scene characteristic of Spielberg, emphasizing mediation of the past through cinematic representation and the complex ethical ambiguities of witnessing such horror.
Figure 14.1 Keys in
., unable to relinquish the dreams and hopes of his childhood.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
: a male‐bonding saga centering on the archaeologist‐adventurer and his absent‐minded academic father.
Figure 14.3 The profoundly troubled Roy Neary: a fractured personality and incoherent father in
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Empire of the Sun
: the father, dignified and aloof – watching, perhaps understanding, but not really connecting.
Figure 14.5 Banning in
: a narcissist in need of a lesson.
Figure 15.1 While Zemeckis’s
(bottom) wants the audience to accept as real the falsehood that Forrest Gump addresses an actual anti‐war rally, Spielberg’s
Catch Me if You Can
(top) adheres to fictional conventions of realism to portray the 1960s as a time of diminishing freedoms.
invites the spectator to share the emotional perspective of Avner, the increasingly tormented Israeli protagonist.
Figure 18.1 Sir Nicholas Winton in
episode. Channel 5 (UK), 2011. Producer: Steve Humphries; director: Nick Maddocks.
Figure 20.1 The controversial stairwell debate between Avner and Ali in
Figure 20.2 The shadow of death in
: sexual passion contaminated by violent memories.
Figure 21.1 The Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry, from the opening sequence of
Figure 21.2 Robert Lincoln’s shell‐shocked face after witnessing severed limbs dispelled from a wheelbarrow in
Figure 21.3 Lincoln tipping his hat to the fallen as he surveys the Petersburg battlefield after the Confederate retreat in
Figure 21.4 Lincoln examines a photograph of a slave child, on loan from Alexander Gardener’s studio, in
Figure 21.5 “Very keenly aware of my aloneness.” The dream sequence from
Figure 21.6 “The better angels of our nature”: transitioning from Lincoln’s death to the film’s final scene, his second inaugural address, in
: David, caught in a feedback loop of deepest desire, mirrors the spectator’s subjection before the image.
Figure 22.2 One of Spielberg’s “stadium” sequences:
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Figure 22.3 A glass matte painting in
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
tests the hero’s faith in the reality before his eyes – as well as that of the spectator.
Figure 22.4 A matte painting represents a dead stop to the action in
Raiders of the Lost Ark
, with a sudden cut to an extreme long‐shot of a previously unseen ravine.
Figure 22.5 Ambiguous interplay between spectator and image in
The Man With the Movie Camera
(Dziga Vertov, 1929) (top) and
War of the Worlds
(bottom): a gaze utopian in scope and range, but connotatively terrifying for its authoritarian ubiquity and the judgment it passes.
Figure 25.1 A view from the top of the Convention Center looking back at the crowds approaching from downtown San Diego in 2011, when Spielberg was in attendance and movies like
The Amazing Spider‐Man
were being advertised for the following year.
Table of Contents
The Wiley Blackwell Companions to Film Directors survey key directors whose work together constitutes what we refer to as the Hollywood and world cinema canons. Whether Haneke or Hitchcock, Bigelow or Bergman, Capra or the Coen brothers, each volume, comprised of 25 or more newly commissioned essays written by leading experts, explores a canonical, contemporary and/or controversial auteur in a sophisticated, authoritative, and multi‐dimensional capacity. Individual volumes interrogate any number of subjects – the director’s oeuvre; dominant themes; well‐known, worthy, and under‐rated films; stars, collaborators, and key influences; reception, reputation, and above all, the director’s intellectual currency in the scholarly world.
A Companion to Michael Haneke
, edited by Roy Grundmann
A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock
, edited by Thomas Leitch and Leland Poague
A Companion to Rainer Werner Fassbinder
, edited by Brigitte Peucker
A Companion to Werner Herzog
, edited by Brad Prager
A Companion to Pedro Almodóvar
, edited by Marvin D’Lugo and Kathleen Vernon
A Companion to Woody Allen
, edited by Peter J. Bailey and Sam B. Girgus
A Companion to Jean Renoir
, edited by Alastair Phillips and Ginette Vincendeau
A Companion to François Truffaut
, edited by Dudley Andrew and Anne Gillian
A Companion to Luis Buñuel
, edited by Robert Stone and Julián Daniel Gutiérrez‐Albilla
A Companion to Jean‐Luc Godard
, edited by Tom Conley and T. Jefferson Kline
A Companion to Martin Scorsese
, edited by Aaron Baker
A Companion to Fritz Lang
, edited by Joseph McElhaney
A Companion to Robert Altman
, edited by Adrian Danks
A Companion to Wong Kar‐wai
, edited by Martha P. Nochimson
A Companion to American Indie Film
, edited by Geoff King
A Companion to Steven Spielberg
, edited by Nigel Morris
This edition first published 2017© 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Inc
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Library of Congress Cataloging‐in‐Publication Data
Names: Morris, Nigel, 1955– editor.Title: A companion to Steven Spielberg / edited by Nigel Morris.Description: Chichester, West Sussex ; Malden, MA : John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2017. | Includes bibliographical references and index.Identifiers: LCCN 2016028170 (print) | LCCN 2016035374 (ebook) | ISBN 9781118726914 (cloth : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781118726815 (Adobe PDF) | ISBN 9781118726808 (ePub)Subjects: LCSH: Spielberg, Steven, 1946—Criticism and interpretation.Classification: LCC PN1998.3.S65 C65 2017 (print) | LCC PN1998.3.S65 (ebook) | DDC 791.4302/33092–dc23LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016028170
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Cover image: Photo by Todd Plitt / Contour by Getty Images
For Janice – We strolled through fields all wet with rainAnd back along the lane again … Van Morrison, “The Way Young Lovers Do”
Nathan Abrams, Professor of Film Studies at Bangor University, has written widely on transatlantic Jewish film, history, politics, and popular culture with specific reference to the United States and the United Kingdom. His current research falls into three key areas: Jews, Jewishness and Judaism in popular culture, 1990 to the present; public intellectuals and American Culture; and European Jewish Diasporas. Recent publications include The New Jew in Film: Exploring Jewishness and Judaism in Contemporary Cinema (2010) and Caledonian Jews: A Study of Seven Small Communities in Scotland (2009).
Sarah Barrow is Head of Lincoln School of Film and Media at the University of Lincoln. Former posts include being one of the first venue‐based film education officers (Cambridge Arts Cinema) and founder of a production company making films with underprivileged young people. Research interests include Latin American cinemas, cinematic representations of political violence and (national) identity/ies, and memory, trauma, and nostalgia in film and photography. Alongside extensive publications on Hispanic cinemas, Dr. Barrow co‐edited 50 Key British Films (2008), contributed to 50 Key American Films (2009), and co‐edited the Routledge Encyclopaedia of Films (2014).
Erin Bell is Senior Lecturer in the School of History and Heritage at the University of Lincoln. After her PhD in early modern religious nonconformity at the University of York she moved to Lincoln as researcher on the interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, “Televising History 1995–2010” (2006–2010), led by Professor Ann Gray, and continues to research and teach in both fields. Her most recent book, co‐authored with Ann Gray, is History on Television (2012).
Warren Buckland, Reader in Film Studies, Oxford Brookes University, researches film theory, analyzing key trends in contemporary cinema (Hollywood blockbusters, puzzle films, new sincerity), and data mining world cinema, which combines film studies with computer science. Since holding the first British Academy Post‐Doctoral Fellowship in Film Studies (1994) he has written and edited several books on spectatorship, film semiotics, theory, and contemporary cinema, and is founding editor of the New Review of Film and Television Studies. The short guide Teach Yourself Film Studies has been translated into Vietnamese and Japanese. Directed by Steven Spielberg (2006) supplements standard film theories with information contained in well‐known filmmaking manuals.
Robert Burgoyne is Professor and Director of Research in Film Studies at the University of St Andrews. His work centers on historiography and film, with emphasis on American cinema and national identity. Recent publications include Film Nation: Hollywood Looks at U.S. History (revised edition, 2010) and The Epic Film in World Culture (2010). He has also published on memory and contemporary American culture; cinephilia in the work of Douglas Gordon and Corey Arcangel; and the imagery of haunting and spectrality in the war film. Narrative theory, Italian cinema, and the impact of digital technologies on film form and theory are also subjects on which Professor Burgoyne has published, and continues to pursue. Much of his recent work investigates the cinematic rewriting of history, and film’s power to illuminate the present by reconceiving dominant fictions that have formed around the past.
Kirsty Fairclough is Senior Lecturer in Media and Performance at the University of Salford. She is the co‐editor of The Music Documentary: Acid Rock to Electropop, (with Rob Edgar, Benjamin Halligan, and Nicola Spelman, 2013), The Arena Concert: Music, Media and Mass Entertainment (with Rob Edgar, Benjamin Halligan, and Nicola Spelman, 2016), Music Video: Forms, Aesthetics, Media (with Gina Arnold, Danny Cookney, and Michael Goddard, 2016), and author of the forthcoming Beyoncé: Celebrity, Feminism and Pop Culture.
Lester D. Friedman is Professor of Media and Society at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Current scholarly interests include American cinema from the post‐World War II era to the present, British cinema, American‐Jewish images in the media, medical culture, and British media in the Thatcher era. Among Professor Friedman’s recent publications are Citizen Spielberg (2006), Fires Were Started: British Cinema and Thatcherism (2006), American Cinema of the 1970s (2006 – part of the “Screen Decades” series that he co‐edits), and Cultural Sutures: Medicine and Media (2004). He was an early academic champion of the work of Spielberg’s work, having co‐edited Steven Spielberg Interviews (2000).
Lincoln Geraghty is Reader in Popular Media Cultures in the School of Creative Arts, Film and Media and Director of the Centre for Cultural and Creative Research at the University of Portsmouth. He is editorial advisor for the Journal of Popular Culture, Reconstruction, Atlantis, Journal of Fandom Studies, and Journal of Popular Television. He is author of Living with Star Trek: American Culture and the Star Trek Universe (2007) and American Science Fiction Film and Television (2009). Dr. Geraghty has edited collections on Star Trek, science fiction and fantasy television, Smallville, and genre. Currently editor of the online and print Directory of World Cinema: American Hollywood (2011 and 2013), his most recent books are Cult Collectors: Nostalgia, Fandom and Collecting Popular Culture (2014) and Popular Media Cultures: Fans, Audiences and Paratexts (2015).
Raymond J. Haberski, Jr. is Professor of History, Director of American Studies, and serves as Publications Coordinator at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. From 2000 to 2013, Haberski was a full‐time, tenured faculty member at Marian University. In 2008–2009 he held the Fulbright Danish Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the Copenhagen Business School. Haberski’s research field is US intellectual history and his books include It’s Only a Movie: Films and Critics in American Culture (2001), Freedom to Offend: How New York Remade Movie Culture (2007), The Miracle Case: Film Censorship and the Supreme Court (2008), God and War: American Civil Religion Since 1945 (2012), and a manuscript he has recently completed for the American Academy of Franciscan History tentatively entitled, Evangelization to the Heart: Franciscan Media in the United States (expected publication date 2016).
I.Q. Hunter, Professor of Film Studies at De Montfort University, has interests in British cinema, genre, exploitation, science fiction, horror, trash, Hammer, and cult film, and has written widely on adaptation. He co‐edited Science Fiction Across Media: Adaptation/Novelisation (2013) and the six books in Pluto’s Film/Fiction series, from Pulping Fictions (1996) to Retrovisions (2001). His other publications include British Trash Cinema (2013), British Comedy Cinema (co‐editor, 2012), and British Science Fiction Cinema (1999), and he has appeared in a BBC4 documentary, Rex Appeal (2011), on dinosaurs in films.
James Kendrick is an associate professor in the Department of Film & Digital Media at Baylor University. He is the author of three books: Darkness in the Bliss‐Out: A Reconsideration of the Films of Steven Spielberg (2014), Hollywood Bloodshed: Screen Violence and 1980s American Cinema (2009), and Film Violence: History, Ideology, Genre (2009). His articles have appeared in the Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Film Criticism, The Velvet Light Trap, Journal of Film and Video, and Journal of Popular Film and Television. He has also authored numerous book chapters and presented papers at national conferences. He earned a PhD in Communication and Culture from Indiana University, Bloomington, and also holds a BA in English and an MA in Journalism, both from Baylor University. His primary research interests are the films of Steven Spielberg, post‐classical Hollywood film history, violence in the media, cult and horror films, media censorship and regulation, and cinema and new technologies. In addition to his academic work, he is also the film and video critic for the web site Qnetwork.com (where he has written over 2500 feature‐length reviews).
Peter Krämer is a Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of East Anglia. He has published more than 60 essays on American film and media history, and on the relationship between Hollywood and Europe, in academic journals and edited collections. He is the author of The General (forthcoming in 2016), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (2014), A Clockwork Orange (2011), 2001: A Space Odyssey (2010), and The New Hollywood: From Bonnie and Clyde to Star Wars (2005), and the co‐editor of Stanley Kubrick: New Perspectives (2015), The Silent Cinema Reader (2004), and Screen Acting (1999).
Grethe Mitchell is an academic, researcher, and practitioner in digital and interactive media. Before academia, she was involved in film and television production and post‐production working on TV dramas, feature films, and documentaries. Her early adoption of computer technology in the film industry led to an interest in interactive media and digital technologies and her research interests encompass the broad range of digital and convergent media. Recent grant‐funded research output includes producing and directing a documentary film on children’s play, leading the development of a prototype hybrid Wii/Kinect adaptation for a research project on children’s playground games (both AHRC, 2009–2011) and researching movement capture and preservation in the Arts and Humanities (AHRC 2011–2012). Grethe has written and co‐written numerous papers on video games and she co‐edited Videogames and Art (2nd edition, 2014).
Nigel Morris (Project Editor) is Principal Lecturer in the Lincoln School of Film and Media. Before joining the University of Lincoln he was a lecturer and teacher educator in further and higher education in England, Wales, and Nigeria, teaching film, media studies and media education, drama, literature, and screenwriting at all levels. His book The Cinema of Steven Spielberg (2007) led to him convening the international conference “Spielberg at Sixty,” guest editing a Spielberg special issue of the New Review of Film and Television Studies (2009), and consulting for and appearing in Rex Appeal (BBC4, 2011), a documentary on dinosaurs in films. Deviser of Lincoln’s BA (Hons) in Film & Television, Dr. Morris has published various articles and chapters on fiction film, national cinemas, and broadcasting, and is developing a major project on media representations of science.
Dan North is an independent scholar based in China. For more than 10 years, he taught film studies at the University of Exeter, UK, followed by teaching posts at Leiden University and Webster University in the Netherlands. Now teaching film history, theory, and practice at Qingdao Amerasia International School, he continues actively to write and research, with particular interest in histories of filmic special effects, animation, and puppetry. He is the author of Performing Illusions: Cinema, Special Effects and the Virtual Actor (2008) and co‐editor, with Bob Rehak and Michael S. Duffy, of Special Effects: New Histories, Theories, Contexts (2015). Some of his writing can also be found at Spectacular Attractions (drnorth.wordpress.com).
Gerwyn Owen is Welsh Medium Teaching Fellow – Film Studies at Bangor University. He graduated from the university’s School of Welsh with a first class honours degree and has received awards for academic excellence at undergraduate level and a postgraduate scholarship in Film Studies. His MA dissertation explores the images of food and drink in the work of the German film director Max Ophüls. Having lived and worked in Italy, Gerwyn is interested in Italian cinema and is working on his doctorate, examining the representation of Jews, Jewishness, and Judaism in Italian silent cinema. He was awarded a prestigious Il circolo scholarship, presented at the Italian Embassy in London by the Ambassador of Italy.
Murray Pomerance is Professor in the Department of Sociology at Ryerson University. He is the author of The Eyes Have It: Cinema and the Reality Effect (2013), Alfred Hitchcock’s America (2013), Michelangelo Red Antonioni Blue: Eight Reflections on Cinema (2011), The Horse Who Drank the Sky: Film Experience Beyond Narrative and Theory (2008), Johnny Depp Starts Here (2005), and An Eye for Hitchcock (2004), and editor of numerous volumes. His fiction includes Tomorrow (2012) and Edith Valmaine (2010). He edits the “Horizons of Cinema” series at SUNY Press and the “Techniques of the Moving Image” series at Rutgers University Press, for whom he is also co‐editor of “Screen Decades” and “Star Decades.”
Stephen Prince is Professor of cinema at Virginia Tech and Honorary Professor of film and media at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. His research and publications focus on digital visual effects, violence in motion pictures, director Akira Kurosawa and Japanese cinema, the American film industry, American film during the 1980s, and political cinema. The author of numerous essays and book chapters, his work has appeared in Film Quarterly, Cinema Journal, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He is a former president of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the world’s largest organization of film scholars, academics, students, and professionals. His audio commentaries have appeared on DVDs of films by directors Akira Kurosawa and Sam Peckinpah. To date, Professor Prince has published 15 books. Firestorm: American Film in the Age of Terrorism was named an Outstanding Academic Book of 2010 by Choice.
James Russell is Subject Leader for Film Studies at De Montfort University. His research focuses on the history of the American film industry and the role of popular entertainment more generally in contemporary American society. He is the author of The Historical Epic and Contemporary Hollywood: From Dances With Wolves to Gladiator (2007), and has published a number of articles, reviews, and book chapters on other aspects of American film and TV history. He also writes occasionally on popular cinema for the Guardian newspaper. James is the Principal Investigator of a major research project funded by the Leverhulme trust entitled Hollywood and the Baby Boom: A Social History. His next major monograph will be a co‐authored book based on the project, which examines the postwar history of American movies by focusing on demographic change and the experiences of the baby boomer generation.
Steven Rybin is Assistant Professor of Film Studies in the English Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato, USA. He has particular interests in film performance and star studies, philosophy and film, international movements in art cinema, film authorship, and genres. Having published Michael Mann: Crime Auteur (2013; revised version of The Cinema of Michael Mann, 2007), Terrence Malick and the Thought of Film (2011), and Lonely Places, Dangerous Ground: Nicholas Ray in American Cinema (co‐editor with Will Scheibel, 2014), he is working on a book project that explores the performance of love in three classical Hollywood genres: the screwball comedy, noir, and the family melodrama.
Thomas Schatz is Mary Gibbs Jones Centennial Chair (and former chairman) of the Department of Radio‐Television‐Film at the University of Texas at Austin, and Executive Director of the University of Texas Film Institute. He has written four books about Hollywood films and filmmaking, including Hollywood Genres: Formulas, Filmmaking, and the Studio System (1981), The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era (1989), and Boom and Bust: American Cinema in the 1940s (1999). Professor Schatz edited the four‐volume collection Hollywood: Critical Concepts, and is series editor of the Film and Media Studies Series for University of Texas Press. His writing on film has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and academic journals. He lectures widely on American film and television in the United States and abroad, and has delivered talks and conducted seminars for the Motion Picture Academy, the Directors Guild of America, the American Film Institute, and the Los Angeles Film School. Professor Schatz also is engaged in media production, has consulted and provided on‐screen commentary for a number of film and television documentaries, and is co‐producer of “The Territory,” a long‐running regional PBS series that showcases independent film and video work.
Neil Sinyard is Professor Emeritus of Film Studies at the University of Hull and Visiting Professor in the School of Media, University of Lincoln. He has worked in higher education since the 1960s, except for a period during the 1980s when he was a freelance film journalist, which included being Deputy Film Critic for the Sunday Telegraph. He has published more than 20 books, well over 100 articles, and delivered numerous public lectures on all aspects of film, though he has a particular love of, and specialism in, film adaptation, film music, and the great film directors of the Golden Age of Hollywood and British Cinema. Neil Sinyard is Director of the Graham Greene Festival and author of Graham Greene: A Literary Life (2004).
Jack Sullivan is Professor of English and Director, American Studies Program at Rider University. His specialties include nineteenth‐ and twentieth‐century American literature, music, and film – in particular, Hitchcock’s music, American culture, and its influence on European music (classical and jazz). He is an essayist, author, editor, musicologist, and short story writer, recognized as a leading modern figure in the study of the horror genre, particularly the ghost story. He has published six books, including The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural (1986), which he edited, and his monograph Hitchcock’s Music (2006), and he has written for Opera, The New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday, and USA Today. He teaches a variety of subjects, including several in American Studies. An advocate of an active Emersonian education, Dr. Sullivan frequently takes students to plays and other cultural events in New York City.
John Trafton is a Research Coordinator at the University of St Andrews. The primary focus of his work is on how cinema reimagines history and current events. His forthcoming monograph, Genre Memory and the Hollywood War Film, explores how contemporary American war films are constructed in relation to previous war film cycles. He has also published in Bright Lights cinema journal, the Journal of War and Cultural Studies, Frames cinema journal, and the Journal of American Studies in Turkey. Originally from southern California, John also holds an MSc in Comparative Literature from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Film Studies from Chapman University.
Michael Walker is an independent film scholar who taught film studies for 30 years and was a member of the editorial board of the original Movie magazine. In addition to his articles for that journal and its online successor, he has contributed to The Movie Book of Film Noir (1994) and The Movie Book of the Western (1996). Amsterdam University Press published his book, Hitchcock’s Motifs, in 2005; they will likewise publish his book What Lies Beneath: Modern Ghost Melodramas (forthcoming).
Frederick Wasser, Professor of Television and Radio at Brooklyn College‐CUNY, specializes in the areas of media industries, political economy of media, critical theory, and film and television studies. His eclectic experience includes translating from Norwegian, editing cult classic grinder films, and working on a Mississippi tow barge. As well as chapters and journal articles he has published the books Steven Spielberg’s America (2010) and Veni, Vidi, Video: The Hollywood Empire and the VCR (2001) which won the Marshall McLuhan Award for the best book in the field of media ecology, Media Ecology Association, 2003.
Linda Ruth Williams is Professor in Film Studies, Department of English, at the University of Southampton, with research specialisms in popular genre cinema, censorship, stardom, gender, and sexuality. She is currently working on two major projects – on Ken Russell and on children and childhood in Spielberg’s films – and developing projects on Hal Ashby and on contemporary female stardom. She has written four books including The Erotic Thriller in Contemporary Cinema (2005), the first to examine the new genre, as well as books on D.H. Lawrence and visual culture, on psychoanalytic critical and cultural theory, and a second book on Lawrence in the British Council “Writers and Their Work” series. Professor Williams also co‐edited Contemporary American Cinema, a collection of original essays by international film scholars charting the history of all forms of US cinema since 1960 (2006). She regularly contributes articles and reviews for Sight and Sound, has written for the Independent and the Independent on Sunday, and contributes to TV and radio programs on film issues whenever possible.
Andy Willis is a Reader in Film Studies at the University of Salford. He is the co‐author of The Cinema of Álex de la Iglesia (with Peter Buse and Nuria Triana Toribio, 2007), the editor of Film Stars: Hollywood and Beyond (2004), and the co‐editor of East Asian Film Stars (with Leung Wing Fai, 2014), Spanish Popular Cinema (with Antonio Lazaro Reboll, 2004), Defining Cult Movies: The Cultural Politics of Oppositional Taste (with Mark Jancovich, Julian Stringer, and Antonio Lazaro Reboll, 2003), and Chinese Cinemas, International Perspectives (with Felicia Chan, 2016).
As well as the 27 fellow contributors whose insight, enthusiasm, and erudition this volume captures, I thank Jayne Fargnoli for approaching me to commission and edit the essays; also her team at Wiley Blackwell for their assistance and support throughout, not least Denisha Sahadevan for her patience during the final stages, and Caroline Richards for her minute observation. Gratitude is due to the four anonymous peer reviewers for recommending acceptance of the initial proposal. Joe McBride has proven to be a true colleague and friend, responding quickly and helpfully when I have requested checks on factual information. Holly Lacey and Stephanie Marshall, my former undergraduate students in the Lincoln School of Film and Media, volunteered their time freely to serve as eager and efficient editorial assistants during their final year, commenting on drafts as members of one of the book’s target readerships and helping with the compilation and checking of the indexes and filmographies; one of them has already started work with a prestigious academic publisher and I am pleased to communicate my pride and wish them luck in their future careers. Dan North provided useful feedback that clarified my chapter and its wording, as did my School colleagues Neil Jackson and Tom Nicholls on the Introduction, for which I am very appreciative. Les Friedman and John Conard‐Malley at Hobart and William Smith Colleges provided invaluable assistance in gaining access to materials not available in the United Kingdom. Last, but most definitely not least, Janice Morris puts up with my absence from hearth and kitchen while I work on research projects. With admiration, thankfulness, and love, I dedicate this collection to her.
To avoid repetition and redundancy, dates are not normally given in parentheses after the first mention in each essay of a Spielberg title, contrary to the practice adopted for other directors’ work. A chronological list, with dates, is provided below. All titles mentioned in the book are presented alphabetically in the Film and Television Program Indexes preceding the General Index at the end.
The Last Train Wreck (1957)A Day in the Life of Thunder (1958)The Last Gun (1959)USSR Documentary (1959)Untitled western (1959)Films of Ingleside Elementary School (1959)Steve Spielberg’s Home Movies (1960)Fighter Squadron (1960)Film Noir (1960)Escape to Nowhere (1960/1961)Scary Hollow (1961)Fighter Squad (1961)“Career Exploration Project” western (1961)American Football (1964)Firelight (1964)Rocking Chair (1965)Senior Sneak Day (1965)Encounter (1965‐66)The Great Race (1966)Slipstream (1967)
“Eyes” – segment of Night Gallery pilot (Nov. 8, 1969)“The Daredevil Gesture” – episode of Marcus Welby, M.D. (Mar. 17, 1970)“Make Me Laugh” – segment of Night Gallery episode (Jan. 6, 1971)“L.A. 2017” – episode of The Name of the Game (Jan. 15, 1971)“The Private World of Martin Dalton” – episode of The Psychiatrist (Feb. 10, 1971)“Par for the Course” – episode of The Psychiatrist (Mar. 10, 1971)“Murder by the Book” – episode of Columbo (Sep. 15, 1971)“Eulogy for a Wide Receiver” – episode of Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law (Sep. 30, 1971)Duel (Nov. 10, 1971)Something Evil (Jan. 21, 1972)Savage (Mar. 31, 1973)“Ghost Train” – episode of Amazing Stories (Sep. 29, 1985)“The Mission” – episode of Amazing Stories (Nov. 3, 1985)
Duel – overseas extended theatrical version (1972)Sugarland Express, The (1974)Jaws (1975)Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)1941 (1979)Raiders of the Lost Ark (1979)E.T.: The Extra‐Terrestrial (1982)Twilight Zone: The Movie (Joe Dante, John Landis, George Miller, Steven Spielberg, 1983)Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)The Color Purple (1985)Empire of the Sun (1984)Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)Always (1989)Hook (1991)Jurassic Park (1993)Schindler’s List (1993)The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)Amistad (1997)Saving Private Ryan (1998)A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)Minority Report (2002)Catch Me If You Can (2002)The Terminal (2004)War of the Worlds (2005)Munich (2005)Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)War Horse (2011)The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)Lincoln (2012)Bridge of Spies (2015)The BFG (2016)
A Companion to Steven Spielberg in part assesses the achievements and legacy of one of the most commercially successful and influential artists and entertainers (in any field) of the twentieth and twenty‐first centuries. The collection overall is neither celebratory nor hostile but seeks to be analytical, informative, and critical. Within a rigorous academic ethos, contributors’ different backgrounds, assumptions, and approaches ensure liveliness, contradiction, and passion rather than bland agreement, dry detachment, or strident uniformity. World‐renowned scholars participate alongside emergent voices, offering fresh perspectives.
No other filmmaker’s standing matches the career of one who has seen and lived through the 1970s Hollywood renaissance and the corporate retrenchment of the 1980s, and has adopted multiple roles through those and the ensuing decades, including director, producer, story deviser, businessman, popular historian, Holocaust memorialist, educator, and brand personification; these continue to develop within a synergistic approach that sets Spielberg apart from those contemporaries and protégés with whom he has been most often and readily associated.
While affirming that the Companion’s guiding principle is to be prospective – to advance understanding and debates – it must be acknowledged that the project would have been unthinkable only a decade previously. A “landmark” international conference1 in November 2007, enabled by six contributors to this volume, all of whom might until then have considered themselves lone voices, assembled a “remarkably wide range” of speakers who adopted an “overwhelmingly positive” tone and “largely lacked the defensiveness that only a few years earlier might have colored any such undertaking” (McBride 2009, 1–2). “The critical literature on Spielberg,” as Joseph McBride points out, “is studded with astonishingly bilious and intemperate assaults” (2). Fred A. Holliday notes that “Spielberg and his cinema are often held up as the paradigm of everything that is wrong with contemporary Hollywood and its blockbuster‐driven mentality” – including “dumbing‐down of American culture” and propagation of “right‐wing ideologies” (2008, 91). So powerful has been this tendency that colleagues at a Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference told Lester D. Friedman that Spielberg was the “antichrist” (2006, 3) and that writing about his work would be career suicide: “the academic equivalent of appearing in a porn movie” (2).
This Companion emphatically eschews the defensiveness such inordinate comments or politer insinuations once elicited, even if it lingers in some contributions – as a latent presence in this introduction, perhaps – given the not fully reformed context in which they are written. As McBride opines, “critical debates about his films have become more nuanced, and the remaining Spielberg haters … seem increasingly passé” (2009, 1–2). Newfound esteem is indicated by an Irish Film Institute retrospective of Spielberg’s work in January 2012, and the British Film Institute’s use of images of E.T. in posters publicizing BFI Southbank (previously the National Film Theatre) in 2015. Nevertheless, background to the Companion includes blanket dismissal, not least by critics and academics who confuse Spielberg with other blockbuster directors. Enormous commercial appeal suggests that Spielberg’s work must be symptomatic, expressive, and reflexive of the culture it responds to and contributes toward shaping, although the exact relationship is typically a matter of presupposition. Many pundits adopt an oppositional stance, either elitist or more or less consciously political, in relation to Hollywood cinema as predictable propaganda for the American way – of which Spielberg’s output is at once one of the most salient, apparently typical, and hence, in view of its international success, most reprehensible embodiments. Spielberg’s apparent adherence to classical form is, by many critics, confused, conflated, or equated with political conservatism, not least because of the association of blockbuster filmmaking with business and marketing strategies focused on maximizing profit and thereby pleasing the largest possible audience. Such classicism nevertheless sits awkwardly alongside Spielberg’s multivocal address to different audiences, attendant stylistic range, and adoption of technological advancements in the realization of his audiovisual ambitions and his centrality to economic and industrial transformations. The latter associate him with the “post‐Classical” Hollywood model of complex intersecting interests (Maltby 2003, 220), in terms of which his films are too often associated erroneously – at least, those that he has directed are – with simplistic, marketing‐led, action‐driven spectacle at the expense of character, narrative complexity, and thematic significance. Such assumptions are challenged and repeatedly disproven in the essays featured here.
With Lincoln2 and Bridge of Spies, Spielberg has continued to consolidate a career phase in which much of his output, less characterized by blockbuster values than was always the case, receives respect although not universal admiration. Those two films maintain his lifelong exploration of, and experimentation with, cinematic form, based on or alluding to precedents both mainstream and – more than negative criticism acknowledges – sometimes notably abstruse. In this parallel concern with showmanship and artistry, based on the director’s extensive knowledge of the medium’s history and ceaseless curiosity about its function and possibilities, Spielberg echoes two of his more obvious formative influences: Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford, who, until nearly 50 years into their filmmaking, were similarly not taken seriously by arbiters of taste and quality (McBride 2011, 514).
Even at its most stately and classical, Spielberg’s filmmaking does not default to a safe, unquestioning, would‐be mimetic mode but rather uses style to highlight (should the spectator be inclined to notice) its own mediation and construction. Self‐consciously dialogic positioning in relation to precedents in Hollywood and alternative traditions interrogates the adequacy of Lincoln, Bridge of Spies, or indeed any cinema, to events and issues portrayed. As an example of blindness to such possibility, former Village Voice film critic (and academic) J. Hoberman has reprinted in a book his original review (2004) of The Terminal. The unamended article follows new material that describes the same (Presidential election) year’s “extraordinary pageant of Ronald Reagan’s funeral” as “subsuming all political conflict in a simplified, sentimental, personality‐driven narrative – … the year’s preeminent example of Spielbergization” (2012, 95). Gratuitous assumptions are made with the expectation of knee‐jerk agreement, particularly offensive in that one might concur with the writer’s world‐view generally if reasoned evidence replaced the self‐righteous harangue. Instead Hoberman glosses over the function and form of funerals, the links between personality, privilege, and the Presidency (and a particularly conservative one at that, aligned explicitly with religious groups such as the Moral Majority), the relationship between American individualism, popular fictions, and exemplary lives in politics and show business, the politics of news and the conventions of reporting, and the hegemonic connections between these important issues. The review then plunges intermittently from Hoberman’s characteristic New York intellectual urbanity into an emotive and debased discourse, and logic constructed through impressionistic association and damning non sequiturs, neither of which are uncommon in hostile writing about Spielberg (Morris 2007, 4–5, 389–90), as if the author has to expend aggression to protect against contamination through enjoyment. It describes Tom Hanks’s protagonist as “a real goat‐fucker” who learns to speak “increasingly accomplished, cutely accented English,” which in turn reminds Hoberman of certain Robin Williams roles, and thereby “more than passing resemblance to the repellently cloying Russian immigrant … in the Reagan‐era heart‐warmer Moscow on the Hudson [Paul Mazursky, 1984]” (Hoberman 2012, 96). Soon after, Hoberman’s free association refers to “the most memorably offensive” of the multi‐ethnic airport workers Hanks’s character befriends, and calls them “elves” (97). The point here is not to attack any particular critic or their right to hold certain views, but rather to suggest how a pre‐existent discourse – in this instance of “Reaganite entertainment” (Britton 1986) – dialogically fortified by anticipation of its audience’s response, determines the argument and evidence presented.
Such negativity, damnation by association, and harsh rhetoric point to ongoing debates around popular culture and highbrow taste – entertainment versus art – as well as unresolved disputes specifically concerning ideological propensities and alleged effects of Spielberg’s work. This Companion intervenes authoritatively into such tendencies. Focused primarily on Spielberg as director – as the series’ remit demands – it acknowledges that his profitability in that role quickly elevated him into a major industry player whose work has considerable influence, as writer, producer, executive producer, or studio head, and in television and computer gaming, as well as the 30 feature films so far directed. Inevitably auteurist in orientation, then, the Spielberg Companion contextualizes and problematizes assumptions of that approach. It does so by recognizing the commercial author function as a marketing strategy, as pointed out by Barthes (1975) and Foucault (1977), and paying attention in some of the essays to Spielberg’s early self‐promotion, and subsequent reinvention of his image as a serious artist, a public figure, a celebrity, an educator, and so on. Beyond examining such attempts at consolidating preferred meanings, many of the authors are attuned to the ambiguity and complexity of Spielberg’s directorial work that help make it popular across generations internationally and increasingly intriguing to criticism and scholarship.
The validity of authorship study and Spielberg’s importance as a director, in terms of artistic value or, according to different criteria, as a cultural or economic phenomenon, are pragmatically taken as given. Nevertheless, from various perspectives within the now mature disciplines of Film, Media, and Cultural Studies, contributors explore aspects of how such discourses function and are constructed. For all the shortcomings and contradictions associated with single director study – of which most writers of these pages are, as seasoned academics, aware – in practice directors are central to how cineastes and some types of fans classify movies and to how film industries promote, and reviewers judge, many of them. After all, The Terminal might mean something different if its director’s name – evoking fixed connotations for some – did not associate it with what Jaws purportedly represents. Paradoxically, though, Spielberg’s presence has confused perceptions of authorial provenance, due to the fact that he has sometimes written, often produced, and frequently been credited as executive producer without directing, with his name figuring at least as prominently as the director’s. Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper, 1982) represents an extreme case in point.
Spielberg’s status and significance are inseparable from the aesthetic, financial, technical, and cultural developments his image personifies – conveniently for journalism and public relations, although proper academic scrutiny demands more circumspection – irrespective of whether he is their cause or effect or, more complicatedly, their embodiment. Since Jaws supposedly inaugurated blockbuster production values and revolutionized marketing strategies,3 Spielberg, as an extraordinarily popular filmmaker with a formidable record, is the most visible and widely known representative of the industry other than on‐screen stars. As an example, the MacRobert Arts Centre at the University of Stirling, the venue where this editor as a 1970s undergraduate immersed himself in European Art Cinema and New Hollywood movies, has had a banner near the campus gate since 2015 proclaiming, “JAW‐dropping prices.” Its graphics and typography evoke the movie and the preceding cross‐marketed bestseller. Forty years on, the narrative image retains potent recognition value and synonymity with “cinema,” significantly disavowing distinction between popular and arthouse that the location’s former status as a Regional Film Theatre upheld. To the extent that Spielberg now is associated with that film, he is cinema.
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