Steven Speilberg Essay, Research Paper
A Mini-paper on Steven Spielberg
Stephen Spielberg has directed some of the most popular, and highest grossing, movies of all time. He has directed six of the top 25 highest grossing movies of all time, and is clearly one of the most notable directors of our day. Stephen Spielberg was born on December 18th, 1947 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Stephen’s family moved around a lot, and Stephen had troubles fitting in at school. His peers constantly picked him on for his physical weakness and his ethnic background. Stephen is Jewish, and in his childhood he attended predominately non-Jewish schools. (Reed/Cunneff 139) His father Arnold was a computer engineer, and his mother Leah was a restaurateur. Stephen was a practical joker, who constantly played tricks on his sisters. Stephen found his best mode of expression however, through an old eight-millimeter camera that he had found in his garage. Spielberg focused all of his time and effort into this new form of expression he had found, even at the expense of other things in his life. In an article in Time magazine Spielberg said “From age twelve or thirteen I knew I wanted to be a movie director, and I didn’t think that science or math or foreign languages were going to help me turn out the little 8-mm sagas I was making to avoid homework.”(Contemporary Authors 3) Movies were also helping Stephen to escape his family life, where at home things were bad with his parents, and when Stephen was twelve years old they divorced. This only helped to clarify Stephen’s love of film.
After he completed high school, Spielberg was well on his way to becoming a director. He had already won student awards for some of his short films, and one of them, a movie called Firelight, had actually been shown in a local movie theatre. As a young high school graduate, Spielberg would often take tours to Universal Studios, and then sneak off for hours to tour the lot by himself. He did this almost every day after graduating from high school. (Contemporary Authors 3) At age twenty Spielberg was signed to a seven-year contract with Universal television after an executive of the company saw some of his films. Under this contract, Spielberg would direct Duel, his first TV movie, and his first movie to gain widespread critical attention. The TV film was even released as a feature film in some countries. Stephen used this success to direct his first feature length film The Sugarland Express. The reviews of the movie were mixed, however the earnings were not, this would soon be a characteristic of many of Spielberg’s movies.
Spielberg soon established himself once again as a box office draw with Jaws. The movie was made with an 8 million dollar budget, which for 1975 was pretty expensive, however it brought audiences to it in unprecedented numbers, and in 1975 Jaws became the first movie to gross more than 100 million dollars. It was the highest grossing movie to date, and Spielberg was just 26 years old when it was completed. Spielberg went on to direct many more box-office hits including ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Eventhough his movies had become widely popular and were loved by many audiences, critics still snubbed Spielberg, in part because of his success. Spielberg went on to make The Color Purple, which like many of his movies, met mixed criticism. While many critics lauded his adaptation of the novel’s intent to a movie, others accused him of tampering with the content too much, and losing the real message of the work. Eventhough Spielberg had been voted best director of 1985 by the Director’s Guild; he was not even nominated for best director at the academy awards. Spielberg eventually broke the curse in 1987 when the academy gave Spielberg the Irving J. Thalberg Award to recognize his body of work as a director. It is one of the most distinguished awards the academy can give someone.
Spielberg has made some of the most popular movies to ever have been made. His movies helped to define a generation of “baby boomers.” As film critic Roger Ebert said in summery of Spielberg’s career “Stephen Spielberg’s first films were made at a time when directors were the most important people in Hollywood, and his more recent ones at a time when marketing controls the industry. That he has remained the most powerful filmmaker in the world during both periods says something for his talent and his flexibly.”(Ebert 128) Spielberg has also gone on to co-create Dreamworks Studios, the only new studio to appear since the Goldwin Age. His two latest movies Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan have gone on to be his most critically acclaimed yet. Spielberg has become not only one of the highest paid directors in Hollywood today, but also one of the most respected.
1. Ebert, Roger. “The Moviemaker: Stephen Spielberg.” Time June 8, vol. 151, p. 128-133, 1998.
2. Reed, J D, Tom Cunneff “Stephen Spielberg.” People Weekly March 15, vol. 51, p. 138-140, 1999.
3. “Stephen Spielberg.” Contemporary Authors Online, Gale Literary Database, The Gale Group Inc., 1999.