Steven Spielberg is perhaps the most prolific director of our time. In the last 45 years, he has directed over thirty films and produced and written many more. As such, it is difficult to pick out two films that could represent the whole of his work. However, the simple fact is that Spielberg directs in two distinct categories: war and science fiction. Films like Saving Private Ryan, War Horse, and Lincoln have shown his talents in capturing the brutality of the battlefield, as well as the efforts of those to save as many people as they can. And yet, he also excels in the representation of aliens on screen, including E.T: The Extra Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and War of the Worlds. Even though it is simple to try and put Spielberg inside genre boxes, he has done numerous other successful movies as well, including the Indiana Jones series and Jurassic Park. This week’s two films highlight some representative works of a vast and varied career.
Length: 195 minutes / 3.25 hours
It is somewhat obvious by his name, but Steven Speilberg was born to Jewish parents in 1946. Never backing away from his heritage, he has directed a few films that examine tragic events against the Jews. In 2005, he released a film about the murder of Jewish athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, which highlighted the antisemitic sentiments still prevalent in Germany decades after the end of World War II. Of course, before this film, he directed Schindler’s List, an examination of the exemplary efforts of an Austrian industrialist to save countless Jewish lives during the Nazi-run Holocaust. The film is a fitting memorial for the tragedy that befell the Jewish people and should be used to remind us where we have been as a global community, and “lest we forget . . .”
As a shrewd businessman, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) didn’t give much thought about his workforce. However, when he finds out that the Polish Jews that are working in his factories are being persecuted by the Nazis, he decides to do something about it. He figures that the Nazis won’t look into the manufacturing plants that are giving them the supplies to continue their war, so he starts hiring Jews to work in his factories in order to protect them. As an added bonus, his factories are in fact producing some of these supplies needed by the Germans, so in order to quicken their demise, he allows the quality control of these goods to temporarily go by the wayside. And yet, rich as he is, he can’t save everyone. By the end of the war, Schindler had saved over one thousand Jews from the concentration camps at Auschwitz, but he wished he could have saved more.
Length: 124 minutes / 2.07 hours
Up until 1975, Steven Spielberg was essentially an unknown name in Hollywood. That was until he made Jaws. Based on a book of the same name, it has been said that the film didn’t go quite as planned (due to some mechanical problems with the shark), but the longer the antagonist goes unseen, the more terrifying it became. Spielberg made a name for himself with this film, and he’s been creating thrillers like this ever since (like Jurassic Park, for instance). His presentation has been unique and has been the influence on many directors since. There is so much that is iconic about this film: the music, the quotes (“You’re gonna need a bigger boat”), and (of course) the shark itself. The American Film Institute has placed Jaws mid-way through their top 100 lists in recognition of its influence on American cinema.
What’s the best way to beat the heat in the summer? Go swimming, of course. And if you live in the New England area, the best spot for swimming is the Atlantic Ocean. However, the chewed up remains of a swimmer wash ashore on a small island and soon every fisherman is out trying to bag the shark that did it. Unfortunately, only one fisherman understands what kind of beast they’re dealing with, and he’s the only one equipped to capture this shark. As the body-count rises, it becomes imperative that the monster is brought to justice. As such, the fisherman, Quint (Robert Shaw), Marine Biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) go out to sea in attempt to find this shark before it kills again. And yet, are they truly prepared for what they will eventually find out there?
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 Spielberg sensations
Bacon #: 2 (Minority Report (directed) / Tom Cruise -> A Few Good Men / Kevin Bacon)