By Lester D. Friedman

Steven Spielberg is the director or manufacturer of over one 3rd of the thirty optimum grossing motion pictures of all time, but such a lot movie students brush aside him as little greater than a contemporary P. T. Barnum - a technically proficient and intellectually shallow showman who substitutes spectacle for substance. up to now, no booklet has tried to research the elements of his worldview, the problems which animate his most vital works, the roots of his mammoth popularity, and the impression his titanic spectrum of creative items exerts at the public attention. In "Citizen Spielberg", Lester D. Friedman fills that void with a scientific research of many of the genres within which the director has labored, together with technology fiction ("E.T."), event ("Raiders Trilogy"), race motion pictures ("The colour Purple", "Amistad"), and battle motion pictures ("Saving inner most Ryan", "Schindler's List"). Friedman concludes that Spielberg's movies current a sustained creative imaginative and prescient mixed with a technical aptitude matched by way of few different filmmakers, and makes a compelling case for Spielberg to be regarded as an important movie artist.

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This attitude is abundantly evident in science-fic- science-fic tion and fantasy films · 27 tion classics such as The Thing (1951), Invaders from Mars (1953), This Island Earth (1955), Forbidden Planet (1956), and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). T.  .  . a sensuous elaboration by means of images and sounds” (Sontag, “Imagination” 215, 212). Perhaps more than any other genre, these films encourage spectators to immerse themselves in the voluptuous visual and aural immediacy of the movie. Audiences marvel at the sleek spaceships, recoil from the monstrous aliens, and gape at the lifelike robots.

Sheehan’s observations remain valid for the important male figures in Spielberg’s subsequent movies, despite their genres. At the center of each, a man strives to reconcile his personal, and often selfish, feelings with the broader roles and demands imposed by society. Much more than is apparent from standard critical perceptions of the film as a “deeply regressive experience with a hero who retreats from the adult world” (Frayling 220), Hook insists that men, as differentiated from boys, must learn to put their self-indulgent pasts behind them, to subordinate childhood memories to adult commitments.

Thoughts; they censure him for presenting childish pleasures as far preferable to adult responsibilities. Peter Biskind, for example, accuses Spielberg of being obsessed with a “sentimental view of our better self as the inner child, the innocent youth we used to be,” concluding that he wants to “return the boomers to the sandbox” (Easy Riders 363). Such critiques condemn Spielberg for wasting his considerable technical skills on childish stories, for enticing audiences to wallow in sentimental illusions, and for turning the American cinema into an intellectual wasteland of pretty pictures and adolescent fantasies.

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