Steven Spielberg Essay, Research Paper
It is hard to imagine a person who has not heard of Steven Spielberg. He is one of the most renown, if not the most renown, American filmmakers of the century. His films have captivated and helped develop imaginations of contemporary society and remain among the most successful films ever made.
Spielberg was born in Cincinnati on December 18th, 1946. His father was an electrical engineer, and his mother a concert pianist. Steven seemed to get the best elements from both of them. Spielberg had an early fascination with cinema and began making amateur films at a very young age. At 13, he won a local contest for his 40-minute film, Escape to Nowhere. Ironically, Steven was unable to get into a film school, so he settled for majoring in English Literature at California State University. After graduation, he set out to Hollywood, where he was determined to be successful. In 1974, he received his first break for The Sugarland Express. The film went on to win a Cannes Film Festival Award for best screenplay. The following year saw JAWS explode. This very successful horror film, depicting a man-eating shark, captured the attention of the world and has become part of contemporary pop culture. The movie was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and won several Oscars for technical categories and for its very distinctive score.
JAWS was not the only film of his to make the “100 best films of the century” list by the American Film Institute. Many of Steven Spielberg’s works have been placed on that list, and many are so timeless, they will live in the hearts of generations to come. Such films as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park have become legendary. In Spielberg’s down time, he stringed together a personal little film about a suburban boy who befriends an earthbound alien, also known as E.T. for Extra-Terrestrial. It hit theaters in 1982 and became an instant classic and is still the defining film of his landmark-filled career. This magical and exceedingly sentimental film surpassed even George Lucas’ Star Wars to become one of the biggest domestic moneymakers of all time. He has the unparalleled talent of capturing people’s imagination and dreams, but at the same time tapping into humanities darkest nightmares.
In 1993, Spielberg made Schindler’s List, a haunting epic that showed the Holocaust in its ugly truth. The film would eventually win him a Best Picture Oscar. It has now become part of the regular curriculum in many schools and is considered by many to be the most significant film of this generation. In 1998, Spielberg came out with Saving Private Ryan, which captured war in gory and shocking detail as his soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy. This again shows his willingness to deal with larger, more serious issues.
Further profiting as a producer of other directors’ its like Poltergeist, Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Spielberg became one of the richest and most powerful players in Hollywood. In 1984, he founded Amblin Entertainment and used the E.T. logo as its trademark. While this was doing well, Spielberg wanted more control over his projects and did not want any other studios interfering with his work. In 1994, along with several other industry hotshots, they created the first new movie studio in Hollywood in over 75 years- Dreamworks. The company covers all its bases and produces live action and animated movies, music, computer games, arcades, television productions, and distribution. Spielberg owns approximately 22% of Dreamworks and he is worth around 1 billions dollars. His average salary is $238 million a year!
A defining characteristic of a Steven Spielberg movie is the elaborate costs of making movies, huge box office returns, and many award nominations. For example, Jurassic Park was a special effects-laden adaptation of Michael Crichton dinosaur disaster novel of the same game that cost $70 million to make. But, it grossed $100 million in nine days on its way to completely shattering his own record in E.T. Schindler’s List finally earned Spielberg his long-awaited Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture.
Most people know that Steven Spielberg is a director, but not all know that he is an amazing producer and writer with endless movies and shows under his belt. Some examples of movies he directed are: JAWS (1975), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), Twilight Zone: The movie (1983), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Hook (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World (1997), Amistad (1997), and Saving Private Ryan (1998).
There are too many shows and movies to state in this paper that Spielberg has either produced or written. Some of these movies are: Poltergeist (1982), Gremlins (1984), Back to the Future (1985), Goonies (1985), Cape Fear (1991), Twister (1996), Men in Black (1997), Deep Impact (1998), and soon to be released in the Summer of 2001, Jurassic Park 3. Steven Spielberg has also written and produced many cartoon shows like Animaniacs that are still entertaining children five years later. Many of his movies have been cartoons such as: An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (1988), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), and Fievel Goes West (1991). No matter if a person is 5 or 50, every generation can find a Steven Spielberg movie that is to their liking.
If a person watches a Spielberg film carefully, one can see many defining characteristics that are basically present in every movie. The storylines never cease to be interesting and deep. He will usually choose characters that the general public can relate to and issues that large groups of people have dealt with. For example, my grandfather fought in World War II and received a Purple Heart for being a POW. He is an avid fan of old war movies and can usually watch them with no problem because he says, “they are not realistic enough.” I went with my grandfather to see Saving Private Ryan in the theater and after 20 minutes, he starting shaking and crying and said he couldn’t bear to watch because it was bringing back far too horrible memories. Many of his other war buddies had a similar reaction and stated that Saving Private Ryan was the most accurate depiction of the invasion of Normandy they had ever seen.
Spielberg has a talent of recreating an event perfectly, right down to the exact set and even perfect gun replicas. The sets from Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Indiana Jones, and Schindler’s List are extremely elaborate and enormous and cost millions of dollars. Archaeologists and prehistoric experts were brought in to oversee the miniature models of the dinosaurs and even the plants to ensure that they were as close to the truth as possible. Spielberg also uses a variety of camera angles to invoke moods and feelings in his viewers. He is famous for his head shots during an emotional scene and also letting you see through the eyes of various characters in his films. This makes the audience feel more involved in the movie and can keep the audience on the edge of their feet when something unexpected happens.
Personally, I can’t imagine what movies and television would be like if Steven Spielberg hadn’t burst onto the scene some three decades ago. My first movie that I ever saw in the theater was E.T. when I was barely two years old. I can not begin to remember how many times I watched such classics like JAWS, Goonies, Gremlins, The Land Before Time, and An American Tail while growing up. Some of my fondest memories as a child was sitting with my two-year-old brother on my lap and watching little Petrie and Sarah in The Land Before Time. I would explain to him that “Sharptooth” wasn’t really real and that he didn’t have to hide under the covers at night. I used to ice skate when I was younger and chose theme songs from Spielberg films like “Somewhere Out There” from American Tail and the main song from Indiana Jones.
In conclusion, Steven Spielberg is arguably the most famous and most recognized producer/writer/director in the world. His list of films is endless, as well as the awards he as been nominated for or won. My generation has grown up with his films and no matter what age a person may be, there is a Steven Spielberg movie out there for them to watch and love.
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