The following biography
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Steven Allan Spielberg, KBE (born December 18,
1946) is a two-time Academy Award-winning American film director. He is the most
financially successful motion picture director of all time. He has directed
and/or produced a number of major box office hits, giving him great influence in
Hollywood. As of 2004, he has been listed in Premiere and other magazines as the
most "powerful" and "influential" figure in the motion picture industry, and at
the end of the 20th century LIFE named him the most influential person of his
He has won four Academy Awards (including an Irving
G. Thalberg Memorial Award). He has been nominated for six Academy Awards for
Best Director, winning two of them (Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan),
and seven of the films he directed were up for the Best Picture Oscar
(Schindler's List won).
While his films have been derided as the archetype
of modern Hollywood blockbuster film-making (commercialism over artistic
purposes) by some of his critics he ranks among the most successful filmmakers
in history, in terms of both critical acclaim and popular success. First coming
to attention directing adventure films, in later years he started to tackle
emotionally powerful issues, such as the Holocaust, slavery, war, and terrorism.
Born 18 December 1946
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Occupation Film director and producer
Spouse Kate Capshaw
Childhood and early career
Steven Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and
later raised in Camden, New Jersey, Haddon Township, New Jersey, Phoenix,
Arizona, Los Gatos, California and Saratoga, California. His last name comes
from the name of the Austrian city where his Hungarian Jewish ancestors lived in
17th century: Spielberg. He is a contemporary of filmmakers George Lucas,
Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, John Milius, and Brian De Palma.
Spielberg grew up making movies. He was making amateur 8 mm "adventure" movies
with his friends as a teenager, and he made his first short film for theatrical
release, Amblin', in 1968, at the age of twenty one. (Spielberg's own production
company, Amblin Entertainment, was named after this short film.)
He attended Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Arizona
and subsequently graduated from Saratoga High School in Saratoga, California in
1965. On attending Saratoga High School, he said that it was the "worst
experience" of his life and "hell on Earth". .
Spielberg attended California State University,
Long Beach, majoring in English, because Long Beach did not have a film school
at that time. While attending college at Long Beach State in the 1960s,
Spielberg was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity. He dropped out in 1969 to take a
television director contract at Universal Studios. In 2002, thirty-five years
after starting college, Spielberg finished his degree via independent projects
at CSULB, and was awarded a B.A. in Film Production and Electronic Arts with an
option in Film/Video Production.
Spielberg applied for admission to the University
of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts three separate times, and the
prominent school later awarded Spielberg an honorary degree in 1994. Two years
later, Spielberg became a Trustee of the University and has since tirelessly
devoted himself to supporting USC.
Spielberg, an Eagle Scout and recipient of the
Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), developed
the requirements for the Boy Scout Cinematography merit badge. He eventually
resigned from the national board of BSA because of his disapproval regarding the
BSA's anti-homosexuality stance.
Spielberg started a fanciful story of how he broke
into Hollywood by sneakily squatting in an unoccupied office on the Universal
Studios lot. In fact, he had an unpaid summer job on the lot.
His first professional job came when he was hired
to do one of the segments for the pilot episode of Night Gallery. The segment,
Eyes, starred Joan Crawford, and she and Spielberg were reportedly close friends
until her death. The episode is unusual in his body of work, in that the
camerawork is more highly stylized than his later, more "mature" films. After
this, and an episode of Marcus Welby M.D., Spielberg got his first
feature-length assignment: an episode of Name of the Game called "L.A. 2017".
This episode played to his interests in futuristic science fiction, and
Universal first began to take note of his talents. He did another segment on
Night Gallery (some people claim that he also directed a short five-minute
segment called "A Matter of Semantics" when the credited director had to back
out for unknown reasons, but this has never been confirmed and is hotly
debated), and did some work for shows such as Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law
and The Psychiatrist before landing the first series episode of Columbo
(previous "episodes" were actually TV-Movies).
Based on the strength of his work, Universal signed
Spielberg to do three TV movies. The first was a Richard Matheson adaptation
called Duel, first broadcast in 1971. It was immediately recognized as a taut,
well-made thriller, and cemented Spielberg's emerging reputation. (Note that all
video/DVD releases of the film have been the extended cut which was released
theatrically in America in 1983, not the original, shorter cut.) Realizing what
they had, Universal would not release Spielberg to CBS, and insisted he fulfill
the contract. In 1972, he directed a TV movie called Something Evil, which was
made and released to capitalize on the popularity of The Exorcist, then a major
best-selling book which had not yet been released as a movie. Spielberg is said
to be quite disappointed with the film, which he never regarded as more than a
knock-off. He fulfilled his contract by directing the TV movie length pilot of a
show called Savage, starring Martin Landau. Though the series was not picked up,
the movie was shown on TV in 1973, and is occasionally re-run, usually
highlighting Spielberg's participation.
Spielberg's debut theatrical feature film was The
Sugarland Express, based on the true story of a married couple who lead the
Texas police on a highway chase as they embark on a journey to regain custody of
their baby. Welcomed with warm reviews, the film nevertheless failed to catch on
at the box office, but his producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown were
prepared to offer Spielberg a more ambitious directing assignment.
Spielberg's next film was Jaws, a horror film based
on the Peter Benchley novel starring Roy Scheider about a killer shark that
attacks people off the coast of a New England isle community. Jaws won three
Academy Awards (for editing, original score and sound), and grossed over USD$100
million at the box office, setting the domestic record for box office gross. It
was also nominated for Best Picture and featured Spielberg's first of three
collaborations with actor Richard Dreyfuss. To this day, Spielberg maintains
that Jaws was the hardest film he ever had to make. He would decline offers to
direct its sequel by using his new influence to pursue more personal projects.
Rejecting offers to direct Jaws 2 and Superman,
Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss re-convened to work on a pet project
Spielberg had had in mind since his youth: a film about UFOs, which became Close
Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). The film remains a cult sci-fi classic and
has been highly influential ever since. This is one of the rare movies that
Spielberg both wrote and directed. A hit at the box office, the film also gained
Spielberg his first Best Director nomination from the Academy and was nominated
for six other Academy Awards, taking home Oscar in two (Cinematography -- Vilmos
Zsigmond, and a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing -- Frank E.
The success Spielberg was beginning to enjoy, as
well as his eventual tendency to make films with wide mainstream and commercial
appeal, also subjected him to disdain in critical circles by film reviewers. For
example, Spielberg's next film was 1941, a big-budgeted World War II comedy
farce set in L.A. days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, with the two top stars
from Saturday Night Live, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, along with other
all-stars. An exercise in excess, the film provided just the ammunition cynical
critics would require to take down the young director. Over-budget, over-long
(in its extended version), the film flopped with both audiences and critics
alike, although in the end it did make a small profit at the box office, and
eventually found its audience in television showings. Expanded versions of 1941
have been shown on network television and later on Laserdisc and DVD and it has
earned a cult status partly because of Spielberg's eventual fame and partly
because of its camp status. Desperately in need of quick redemption, Spielberg
would next team with Star Wars creator George Lucas on a new action adventure
What some would consider Spielberg's greatest film
work was still to come, beginning in the 1980s. In 1981, Spielberg teamed up for
the first time with his long-time friend George Lucas to make Raiders of the
Lost Ark, his homage to the cliffhanger serials of the Golden Age of Hollywood,
with Harrison Ford (whom Lucas had previously cast in his Star Wars films) as
the dashing hero Indiana Jones. The biggest film at the box office in 1981, and
recipient of numerous Oscar nominations including Best Director (Spielberg's
second nomination) and Best Picture (the second Spielberg film to be nominated
for Best Picture), Raiders is still hailed as a landmark in action cinema.
One year later, Spielberg returned to his alien
visitors motif with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the story of a boy and the alien
whom he befriends (and is trying to get back "home" to outer space). E.T. went
on to become the top-grossing film of all time for many years. It was also
nominated for many Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. It
is considered by Spielberg to be his own personal favorite film from his works.
E.T. originated as a sci-fi suspense thriller called Night Skies. Night Skies
also gave birth to Poltergeist, a film that Spielberg co-wrote , co-produced
(and some people who worked on the film claim directed) and was released only a
week before E.T.. Spielberg also negotiated an unusually lucrative video game
licensing deal with Atari for an E.T. video game. This was a famously expensive
failure which contributed to the video game crash of 1983.
His friend George Lucas immediately pulled
Spielberg back in as part of their friendly agreement to make more Indiana Jones
movies with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Plagued with uncertainty for
the material, the saving grace for Spielberg during the making of this film
would be the meeting of his future wife Kate Capshaw, who was cast as Indiana's
new love interest. The film was a hit though the reviews were less positive than
they were for its predecessor. It was criticized for lacking the energy of the
original, as well as for its grossly inaccurate and ignorant depiction of Indian
culture. The extreme violence and gore would also inspire the Motion Picture
Association of America to create the PG-13 rating the following year - in fact
it was Spielberg that suggested this rating.
In 1983, Spielberg fulfilled what had then been a
life-long dream by producing a big-screen adaptation of The Twilight Zone. The
movie consists of five different segments -- two segments of original material
directed by John Landis and three remakes of classic Twilight Zone episodes,
each from a different director; Spielberg himself directed the segment "Kick the
Can," about an old man (played by Benjamin "Scatman" Crothers) who has the
ability to grant youth to the residents of an old folk's home. Controversy
struck Spielberg when a helicopter accident on Landis's set resulted in the
deaths of two child actors and veteran actor Vic Morrow. Despite the tragic
results of the Twilight Zone movie, Spielberg would again pay homage to the show
two years later by launching Amazing Stories, a similar TV series which
Spielberg would produce and occasionally direct.
In 1985, Spielberg made The Color Purple, an
adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Many critics were
unsure of whether or not Spielberg could handle such serious material, as his
output to that point had been viewed as "lighter" entertainment. Indeed, this
proved to be Spielberg's trial by fire in presenting the story of a generation
of oppressed African-American women (Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey) during
depression-era America. Danny Glover played the abusive patriarch. The film was
another box office smash and hailed by critics as Spielberg's successful foray
into the dramatic genre. Roger Ebert entered it into his Great Films archive. It
received 11 Academy Award nominations including two for Whoopi Goldberg and
Oprah Winfrey. However in one of the most controversial instances in the History
of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Spielberg himself went
without a Best Director nomination despite the multitude of nominations the
1987 was a time when the Chinese economy was
beginning to boom, and as the Chinese gates began to open to the world,
Spielberg took advantage by shooting the first American movie in Shanghai since
the 1930s. The result was an adaptation of J.G. Ballard's autobiographical
novel, Empire of the Sun, which told the story of a young boy named Jim
(Christian Bale) who is separated from his parents during the sacking of
Shanghai in 1941, and is forced to survive through the rest of the war.
Spielberg wanted to convey a heartfelt message of innocence being shattered as a
result of war, as audiences saw the transformation of Jim from sheltered
Shanghai to a struggling and resourceful war refugee. The film garnered numerous
praise from critics, was nominated for several Oscars, but did not attract the
kind of box office power that Spielberg's films usually get.
After two forays into dramatic films, Spielberg
returned to familiar territory by re-uniting "one last time" for another Indiana
Jones film titled Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. With the inclusion of star
Sean Connery, Spielberg vicariously fulfilled a lifelong dream to make a James
Bond movie. Lucas himself heralded his Indiana Jones creation as an alternative
to Bond back when they first discussed films to work on together. The father-son
issues in the picture are congruent with much of Spielberg's work, making this
Indy film the most personal of the three. Recipient of glowing reviews and big
box office receipts, Spielberg, Lucas and Ford left the franchise on a high
mark. The development of a fourth Indiana Jones film has been promised, and it
is now in pre-production.
1989 would mark the first year in which Spielberg
would direct two movies. Following on the heels of his last Indiana Jones movie,
he would re-unite with actor Richard Dreyfuss with Always. Inspired by the film
A Guy Named Joe, Always is the story of Pete, a daredevil pilot who extinguishes
forest fires. When killed on his last mission, he becomes something of a
guardian angel for a young man named Ted. But when Ted falls in love with the
girlfriend Pete left behind, Pete must learn to let go of her and do what's best
to influence these characters as they themselves approach another potential
tragedy. Always marked Spielberg's first foray into the romantic genre. A box
office flop and victim of mixed reviews, Always stands out (or more precisely
doesn't) as arguably Spielberg's most overlooked and forgotten film. The film
was otherwise notable as being the last film which starred Audrey Hepburn.
After the failure of Always, Spielberg headed back
to safer waters. In many ways, a Peter Pan story directed by Steven Spielberg
seemed like a forgone conclusion. He had tried numerous times to film a live
action version of Peter Pan without success. When writer James V. Hart pitched
an alternate idea about Peter Pan returning to Neverland as an adult, Spielberg
switched gears. Hook focused on a middle-aged Pan (played by Robin Williams),
who returns to Neverland to face the title character (Captain Hook, played by
Dustin Hoffman). However, by the time the film began shooting, innumerable
rewrites and creative changes made by the numerous major Hollywood players
attached to the project resulted in a film regarded by most critics as
hit-or-miss at best. The film was made for $70 million (at that time a huge
amount) and made $119 million domestically, but it was not as successful as some
had hoped. Though Peter Pan had grown up, some were wondering if Spielberg
himself ever would.
In 1993, Spielberg decided to once again tackle the
adventure genre, as he directed the movie version of Michael Crichton's novel
Jurassic Park, about killer dinosaurs rampaging through a tropical island
resort. The adaptation muted somewhat the novel's message about the consequences
of mankind tampering with nature, instead focusing on the adventure aspects of
the story. With the aid of revolutionary special effects provided by friend
George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic, the film would eventually become one
of the top ten highest grossing films of all time (domestically), alongside his
earlier E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Spielberg has stated in interviews at the
time that the Japanese Godzilla movies provided inspiration for Jurassic Park.
It was in that same year that Jurassic Park was
released that Spielberg finally received the critical acclaim he had long sought
for making Schindler's List (based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a man
who risked his own life to save 1,100 people from the wrath of the Holocaust).
The screenplay, adapted from Thomas Keneally's novel, was originally in the
hands of fellow director Martin Scorsese, but Spielberg negotiated with Scorsese
to trade scripts (at the time, Spielberg held the script for a remake of Cape
Fear). Schindler's List earned Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best
Director (it also won Best Picture). While the film was a huge success at the
box office, Spielberg claimed not to have partaken in the profits, and instead
used the money to set up the Shoah Foundation. Some critics maintain that
Schindler's List is the most accurate portrayal of the Holocaust, and in 1999
the American Film Institute listed it among the 10 Greatest Films ever Made
(#9). Though Spielberg admits it is definitely his most important film, he still
holds it second to E.T. as his masterwork. Some critics, on the other hand,
don't all share Spielberg's sentiment and it is regarded by many as his finest
and most mature film.
1993 was Spielberg's biggest year with the success
of Jurassic Park and Schindler's List. Taking a four-year hiatus from directing
to spend more time with his family and build his new studio DreamWorks,
Spielberg found himself back in the director's chair in 1997. This time, he was
helming the sequel to 1993's gigantic Jurassic Park, based on Michael Crichton's
The Lost World. The film received mixed reviews, but did manage to generate
nearly $230 million in domestic box office, giving it the third-highest total
for 1997 behind Titanic and Men in Black. In hindsight Spielberg expressed his
view that this sequel was a movie he wanted to see, but didn't necessarily want
to make himself. Fatigued by the production, he would relinquish the opportunity
to direct any more Jurassic Park films.
Spielberg followed his 1993 formula of releasing a
dinosaur movie followed by a historical drama by doing it again in 1997. If Lost
World was his bid to conquer the box office, Amistad (like Schindler's List) was
his bid to win over the critics come awards season. Spielberg released Amistad
under the banner of his new studio DreamWorks (formed with former Disney
animation exec Jeffrey Katzenberg and media mogul David Geffen). Based on a true
story about enslaved Africans who rebelled against their captors, the film
received lavish praise from the critics, but was noted for its violent massacre
scenes. It did not do well at the box office however, and has been overlooked
since its release. It would mark Spielberg's second essay on the treatment of
Blacks in American History (the first being The Color Purple in 1985).
Another of Spielberg's critically acclaimed films,
the World War II drama Saving Private Ryan, was released in 1998. The film
follows a platoon of soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks), from the landing
at Omaha Beach in Normandy to the heart of French resistance, in order to
retrieve a missing private (Matt Damon), whose brothers were lost to the war.
Spielberg considered it one of his finest works, yet in a highly publicized
"showdown", it lost the Best Picture Oscar at the 1999 Academy Awards to
Shakespeare in Love. However, Spielberg would win his second Academy Award for
his direction in the war epic. The film, renowned for its graphic violence, has
proven highly influential on succeeding war movies like Black Hawk Down and
Enemy at the Gates and it has set a standard for realistic depiction of combat.
The film was also the first major hit for Spielberg's studio DreamWorks, which
co-produced the film with its eventual sister studio, Paramount Pictures.
The completion of this film would mark a marathon
of filmmaking for Spielberg who shot The Lost World, Amistad, and Saving Private
Ryan back-to-back-to-back. By decade's end, Spielberg still remained arguably
the most influential and powerful filmmaker in Hollywood.
Later on, Spielberg and Hanks, overwhelmed with the
success of the film's subject, decided to team together to produce a TV
mini-series based on Stephen Ambrose's historical novel, Band of Brothers. The
ten-part HBO mini-series follows the trials and accomplishments of the 101st
Airborne Division, or Easy Company, also starting from the landing in Normandy,
to the Battle of the Bulge, to the capture of Hitler's Eagle's Nest in Germany
itself. The series was hailed as the greatest TV event of all time, winning a
slew of awards both at the Golden Globes and the Emmys.
Spielberg's recent films starting from the end of
the millennium are considered markedly different from that of his previous films
although many note similar themes being played out in them. Many critics have
stated that Spielberg's recent films are an experimental phase. Whether this is
intentional on Spielberg's part is unknown. Opinions on his recent films are
also markedly different. Some critics say that Spielberg has lost his touch and
whimsy while others claim he is entering a new stage of his cinematic life.
Critical opinions on his recent films have earned more polarizing views than his
previous films, something that could be viewed as the director taking risks that
many have said he did not take in his earlier years.
In 2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and
friend Stanley Kubrick's final project, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, a project
planned by the two directors for many years but which Kubrick was unable to
begin during his lifetime. The futuristic story the humanoid android longing for
love, A.I. featured groundbreaking visual effects and a multi-layered,
allegorical storyline in keeping with Kubrick's original vision. It starred
William Hurt, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, and child actor Haley Joel Osment as
the android boy David. The film polarized both critics and audiences, some
stating that the film was overly long and a pretentious impression of Kubrick,
others believing it to be a masterpiece. The legendary director Billy Wilder
called A.I. "the most underrated film of the past few years". The film failed to
recoup its budget at the US box office, though it earned profits overseas.
Following A.I., Spielberg and actor Tom Cruise
collaborated for the first time in the futuristic neo-noir Minority Report,
based upon the sci-fi short story written by Philip K. Dick about a D.C. police
captain who has been foreseen to murder a man he has not even met. While
criticized for its ignorance of the themes of humanity in author Dick's original
story, the film was praised as a futuristic homage to film noir, with its
intelligent premise, thrilling chase scenes, and whodunnit structure. In typical
Spielberg fashion the film earned over $300 million dollars worldwide. Roger
Ebert, who named it the best film of 2002, praised the film for its breathtaking
vision of the future as well as for the way Spielberg blended CGI with
Shortly after the release of Minority Report,
Spielberg and Co. immediately went to work on Catch Me If You Can, a story of
the daring adventures of a youthful con artist. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio
in the lead role, with Saving Private Ryan star Tom Hanks as the FBI agent out
to catch him. The movie marked a turn of genre for Spielberg, who was at this
point seen to be branching out to different kinds of film genres aside from the
usual sci-fi fare he was known for. It is arguably his most offbeat film to
date. It earned significant critical acclaim and box office success. It also
earned Christopher Walken a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film is
particularly known for John Williams' score and its unique title sequence.
The completion of this film once again marked
another conclusion to a marathon run of film-making as it closed the hectic
back-to-back-to-back filmings of A.I., Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can;
a trio regarded as Spielberg's "running-man" trilogy since it shares the common
theme of a character fleeing authority.
Spielberg collaborated once again with Tom Hanks
along with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci in The Terminal, a
warm-hearted comedy about a man of Eastern European descent who is stranded in
an airport after his home country suffers a civil war during his flight,
strongly paralleling the situation of Merhan Karimi Nasseri. It received mixed
reviews but performed relatively well at the box office.
A modernized adaptation of War of the Worlds,
featuring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, was released in the U.S. on June 29,
2005. As with past Spielberg films, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) provided
the special effects. In his films E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind,
Spielberg portrayed alien visitors as potentially friendly for human beings
willing to connect with them. War of the Worlds marked a departure from those
optimistic themes; more violent alien invaders wreak havoc upon Earth. The film
was a major box office success and critical opinions were generally positive,
although some critics pointed out logical inconsistencies in the plot of the
film and commented on its relative lack of a satisfying conclusion. Also
hounding the film's release was the growing controversy sparked by Cruise and
his Scientology religious beliefs, which arose during War's marketing campaign.
Spielberg was inspired to do the film after his childhood love of the book "The
War of the Worlds" written by H. G. Wells. The movie features Spielberg's
trademark of a distant father reconnecting with his children.
On the same day as the release of War of the
Worlds, Spielberg began shooting Munich, a film about the events following the
1972 Munich Massacre. Munich stands as Spielberg's second film essaying Jewish
relations in the world (the first being Schindler's List). The film is based on
Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, a book by
Canadian journalist George Jonas. Although promoted as non-fiction, the book's
veracity has been largely questioned by journalists. It was previously adapted
into the 1986 made-for-TV movie Sword of Gideon.   The film received
strong critical praise, but underperformed at the US and world box-office. The
film bogged by controversy has raised the ire of several Israeli and Palestinian
commentators and remains, perhaps, the film that has provoked more extreme
polarizing reactions than any other in his oeuvre. The screenplay for Munich was
co-written by Eric Roth and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. The
movie is said to be an examination of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the
1972 Munich Olympics by the Black September organization, followed by the
event's aftermath in which Israel's intelligence agency hunted down and killed
the perpetrators. The protagonist, Avner, is believed to be the invention of
Jonas' source, Yuval Aviv. Munich received five Academy Awards nominations,
including Best Picture, Film Editing, Original Music Score (by John Williams),
Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director for Spielberg. This is Spielberg's
sixth Best Director nomination. According to Jonas and Aviv, the Israeli team
suffered misgivings about their assignment, three of the five team members were
killed, and the others were abandoned or treated badly by Mossad. None of these
claims has been verified by other sources. Spielberg also served as the
executive producer of Memoirs of a Geisha, an adaptation of the best-selling
novel by Arthur Golden, a film he was previously attached to as director. He is
also an executive producer on the critically acclaimed 2005 TV miniseries Into
the West. A CGI kids-movie called Monster House, which was co-executive produced
with famed filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, marking their first collaboration together
since 1990's Back to the Future Part III.
Also in the works are an Abraham Lincoln bio-pic
Abraham Lincoln Project starring Liam Neeson as the 16th President of the United
States, and Indiana Jones 4. Both are scheduled for release in 2008.
Spielberg also served as co-executive producing the
new Transformers live action film with Brian Goldmer, an employee of Hasbro. The
film will be directed by Michael Bay and written by Robert Orci and released in
2007. A 4th Jurassic Park film is in development for him to produce as well.
It was announced in April 2006 that Spielberg will
be producing and appearing in a new reality show competition called On the Lot,
in which filmmakers compete for a development deal at Dreamworks.
Spielberg recently sold DreamWorks (excluding its
animation division) to Viacom, the parent company of Paramount Pictures.
On June 14, 2006 it was confirmed Spielberg had
already begun working on a space travel movie titled Interstellar.
Spielberg's films often deal with several recurring
themes. Most of his films deal with ordinary characters searching for or coming
in contact with extraordinary beings or finding themselves in extraordinary
circumstances, this is especially evident in Duel, Jaws, Close Encounters of the
Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Empire of the Sun, Hook, Jurassic Park,
Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, War of the Worlds, Munich.
One consistent theme in his family-friendly work is
a childlike, even naïve, sense of wonder and faith, as attested by works such as
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Hook and A.I..
The other theme is that of loss of innocence and
coming-of-age. In Empire of the Sun, Jim, a well-groomed and spoilt English
youth, loses his innocence as he suffers through World War II Japan. Similarly
in Catch Me If You Can Frank naively and foolishly believes that he can reclaim
his shattered family if he accumulates enough money to support them.
The most persistent theme throughout his film is
tension between parent-child relationships. Parents (often fathers) are
reluctant, absent or ignorant. Peter Banning in Hook starts off in the beginning
of the film as a reluctant married-to-his-work parent who through the course of
his film regains the respect of his children. The notable absence of Elliott's
father in E.T., is the most famous example of this theme. Even Oskar Schindler,
from Schindler's List, is reluctant to have a child with his wife. Munich
depicts Avner as man away from his wife and newborn daughter. There are of
course exceptions; Brody in Jaws is a committed family man, while John Anderton
in Minority Report is a shattered man after the disappearance of his son. This
theme is arguably the most autobiographical aspect of Spielberg's films, since
Spielberg himself was affected by his parents' divorce as a child.
Another aspect of Spielberg's films and possibly
the one most frequently criticized is that most of his films are generally
optimistic in nature. Critics often accuse his films for being overly
sentimental. There are exceptions, his debut feature The Sugarland Express has a
downbeat ending where Ila Fae loses custody of her daughter and most recently
A.I. where David never receives acceptance from his real mother.
His 21st century output from A.I. to Munich are
considerably bleaker in tone with respect to his earlier films. In A.I., David
is shunned and rejected by his family and indeed most of the world at large and
ultimately never earns the love of his real mother. The crime-caper, Catch Me If
You Can, with a certain irony when Frank, who continuously rebels against
authority figures throughout the film, becomes part of the very system he fought
against; while War of the Worlds was the first time Spielberg attempted to show
evil aliens. Munich, his latest and most controversial film, is also his most
ambiguous, as in the end it's uncertain whether the cycle of violence would ever
Indiana Jones 4 (2008)
War of the Worlds (2005)
The Terminal (2004)
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Minority Report (2002)
Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
Saving Private Ryan (1998) (Academy Award, Best
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Schindler's List (1993) (Academy Award, Best
Director, Best Picture)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Empire of the Sun (1987)
The Color Purple (1985)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) (second segment)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
The Sugarland Express (1974)
(lengths include commercials)
Amazing Stories (1985)
ep 1-1 "Ghost Train" (30 min) [aired Oct 6 85]
ep 1-7 "The Mission" (60 min) [aired Nov 3 85]
(part of Amazing Stories: Book One)
Strokes of Genius (1984) Tv series (indroductory
segments hosted by Dustin Hoffman) [aired May 84]
Savage (1973) TV-movie (90 min) [aired Mar 31 73]
Something Evil (1972) TV-movie (90 min) [aired Jan
Duel (1971) TV-movie (90 min) (extended cut was
released theatrically and on home video/DVD) [aired Nov 13 71]
Owen Marshall: Counselor At Law (1971) ep. 1-3
"Eulogy for a Wide Receiver" (60 min) [aired Sep 30 71]
Columbo (1971) ep. 1-1 "Murder By the Book" (90
min) [aired Sep 15 71]
The Psychiatrist (1971)
ep. 1-2 "The Private World of Martin Dalton" (60
min) [aired Feb 10 71]
ep. 1-6 "Par for the Course" (60 min) [aired Mar 10
(this was released on a VHS named The Visionary
after the other episode included)
The Name of the Game (1971) ep 3-16 "L.A. 2017" (90
min) [aired Jan 15 71]
Marcus Welby M.D. (1970) ep 1-27 "Daredevil
Gesture" (60 min) [aired Mar 17 70]
Night Gallery (1969, 1971)
pilot movie segment B "Eyes" [aired Nov 8 69]
ep4 segA "Make 'em Laugh" [aired Jan 6 71] (30min)
possibly ep14 segB "Matter of Semantics" (5min)
for Unforgiven Academy Award for Best Director
for Schindler's List Succeeded by:
for Forrest Gump
for Titanic Academy Award for Best Director
for Saving Private Ryan Succeeded by:
for American Beauty
Spielberg has produced a considerable number of
films, including early hits for Joe Dante and Robert Zemeckis He also produced
several hit cartoons (and a few flops), including Tiny Toon Adventures,
Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Toonsylvania and Freakazoid!. In 1987 he was
awarded The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his work as a creative
producer up to that point.
He was also, for a short time, the executive
producer of the long-running medical drama ER.
In 1989, he brought the concept of The Dig to
LucasArts. He contributed with the project from that time to 1995 when the game
was released. He also collaborated with software publishers Knowledge Adventure
on the multimedia game Steven Spielberg's Director's Chair, which was released
in 1996. Spielberg appears, as himself, in the game to direct the player.
He is one of the co-founders of DreamWorks Pictures
(DreamWorks SKG, with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen providing the other
letters in the company name), which has released all of his movies since Amistad
Following the critical and box office success of
Schindler's List in 1993, Spielberg founded and continues to finance the Shoah
Foundation, a non-profit organization with the goal of providing an archive for
the filmed testimony of as many survivors of the Holocaust as possible, so that
their stories will not be lost in the future.
Also in 1993, Spielberg acted as executive producer
for the highly anticipated television series, seaQuest DSV; a science fiction
series set "in the near future" starring Roy Scheider (who Speilberg had
directed in Jaws) and Jonathan Brandis akin to Star Trek: The Next Generation
that aired on Sundays at 8:00PM on NBC. While the first season was moderately
successful, the second season saw the departure of many beloved characters from
the first year and was geared towards more heavy science fiction/fantasy type
stories. Speilberg's name no longer appeared in the third season and the show
was cancelled after thirteen third season episodes.
When one of his projects fell through, George Lucas
let him direct a few animatics for several sequences in Star Wars Episode III:
Revenge of the Sith.
Spielberg and Dreamworks SKG are currently working
with Survivor creator Mark Burnett on the upcoming television show On The Lot, a
Project Greenlight-esque reality show documenting a contest to find the best
talented, undiscovered filmmakers in America. The winner gets an office "on the
lot", another way of saying they get a $1 Million production contract.
Spielberg has been married to actress Kate Capshaw,
whom he met when he cast her in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, since
October 12, 1991. He has eight children — four of them biological:
Max Spielberg (by actress Amy Irving, whom he
married on November 27, 1985)
Sasha, Sawyer and Destry (by Capshaw); two adopted
(Theo and Mikaela); and one stepdaughter (Jessica Capshaw).
Wife, Kate Capshaw, converted to Judaism.
Amy Irving received a US $100 million settlement
from Spielberg in their 1989 divorce when a judge controversially vacated what
had appeared to be an iron clad prenuptial agreement.
For his work on the Survivors of the Shoah Visual
History Foundation since 1994, he was awarded with the Great Cross of Merit with
Star, the German version of the Great Officer's Cross, in September 1998 for "a
very noticeable contribution to the issue of the Holocaust".
In 1999, Spielberg received an honorary degree from
On Feb 7th, 2000, Spielberg's doctor discovered an
irregularity on his kidney during a routine physical. It was later found to be
Renal cell carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer. The kidney was later removed at
Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. At 53, Spielberg recovered quickly
and required no follow up treatment.
In 2001, he was given the honor of Knight Commander
of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. However, he
cannot use the title 'Sir' due to not being a Commonwealth citizen.
Though Spielberg generally supports U.S. Democratic
Party candidates, he joined Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban in endorsing the
re-election of Hollywood friend Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican Governor
of California, on August 7, 2006.
Spielberg has several critics, including American
artist and actor Crispin Glover. In a 2005 essay titled What Is It? Glover says
that Spielberg has "wafted his putrid stench upon our culture, a culture he
helped homogenize and propagandize." Among Glover’s accusations are that
Spielberg purchased the Rosebud sled used in Orson Welles’ 1941 film Citizen
Kane for $50,000 but refused to hire Welles to write a screenplay in the later
years of his life, that he received money from the United States government to
promote his personal religious and cultural beliefs, that his films do not take
risks, that he exploited tragedy for personal gain in the films Schindler’s List
(although Spielberg was not paid for Schindler's List) and Saving Private Ryan,
and that he, as a co-owner of DreamWorks, considered building a studio on the
few remaining wetlands in Southern California.
In an interview in 2003 on the CBS television show
60 Minutes, actor Robert Duvall criticized Spielberg for meeting with Cuban
president Fidel Castro in 2002. He said, "When he met with him, he should have
had the decency to look out into the graveyard and seen all the people he
killed." He then added, "...I'll probably never get a job at DreamWorks now, but
I don't care!"
Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls portrays
the early Spielberg in a mostly unflattering light as a sycophantic and
reverential figure to the old Hollywood studio system, lacking the artistic
inclinations or intellectual backgrounds of his contemporaries and unable to
relate to the youth culture of the 1960s and 1970s. One colleague recalled that
during the volatile 1968 Democratic National Convention, Spielberg was far more
interested in mastering a tricky visual effects shot. Biskind also illustrates
Steven Spielburg's unusual experience writing Jaws. Spielberg, usually mum on
such third party commentary, once confided that "Every word in [Biskind's] book
about me is false".
Spielberg's films are often accused of leaning
towards sentimentalism at the expense of the theme of the film. An instance
often cited by science fiction fans is the ending of A.I.: Artificial
Intelligence which they believed was too 'happy'. This being a collaboration
with Stanley Kubrick whose films such as Dr. Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange
are often tinged with pessimism drew a heated debate as to whether or not
Kubrick would have liked it or not. Kubrick's long-time assistant Jan Harlan and
the film's original story writer Ian Watson have said that the ending is exactly
what Kubrick intended. Critics such as anti-mainstream film theorist Ray Carney
also complain that Spielberg's films lack depth and do not take risks.
French New Wave giant Jean-Luc Godard famously and
publicly slammed Spielberg at the premier of his film In Praise of Love. Godard,
who has continuously complained about the commercial nature of modern cinema
held Spielberg responsible for the lack of artistic merit in mainstream cinema.
Through his film, Godard accused Spielberg of making a profit of tragedy while
Schindler's wife lived in poverty in Argentina.
In Spielberg's defense, critic Roger Ebert once
stated that "If only people could look past his popularity they would see how
talented he really is." Some of Spielberg's most famous fans include film
legends Ingmar Bergman, Werner Herzog and the late French filmmaker François
Spielberg's unabashed support for Israel has also
raised criticism. In 2002, a rumor circulated that Spielberg was planning a film
about Palestinian suffering during the Israeli/Palestinian feud. The director's
spokesman, Marvin Levy, called the report "an obvious, vicious hoax."
During production of Spielberg's controversial film
Munich, which deals with the Israeli retaliation to the massacre of the Israeli
Olympic athletes during the 1972 Munich Games, the filmmaker retained Arad
Communications, a crisis communications firm in Tel Aviv, in order to deflect
claims of bias.
While the films that Steven Spielberg directed have
won numerous awards, no actor or actress has won an Academy Award for a
performance given in one of his films, although several have been nominated.
Spielberg had a cameo role as the Cook County
assessor in the last minutes of the 1980 film The Blues Brothers.
He appeared in the two-part music video for Cyndi
Lauper's song, The Goonies 'R' Good Enough, from the Spielberg-produced film,
The Goonies (1985)
In the Warner Bros. animated series Tiny Toon
Adventures, Animaniacs and Freakazoid! (all of which were executive-produced by
Spielberg), Spielberg was a semi-recurring character. In some episodes,
Spielberg voiced himself, and in others, veteran voice-over artist Frank Welker
did Spielberg's voice. In the Japanese dub of Animaniacs, Spielberg was voiced
by Hiroyuki Shibamoto.
In 2005, Empire magazine ranked Spielberg number
one on a list of the greatest film directors of all time.
The A&E Network is expected to announce that it
will produce a two-hour drama about the relationship between filmmakers George
Lucas and Steven Spielberg. According to Daily Variety, the biopic, tentatively
titled Celluloid Titans, is being executive produced by Jody Brockway.
Spielberg is expected to make a cameo appearance in
a second-season episode of Extras, the BBC comedy series written and directed by
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
In the 2005 edition of Forbes' "400 Richest People
in America", his net worth is estimated at $2.7 billion, a $100 million
improvement over 2004 (due mostly to his share of the DreamWorks Animation
public stock offering). He, and good friend George Lucas (net worth: $3.5
billion) are the only filmmakers on the list.
Every Spielberg-directed film since and including
The Sugarland Express, except for The Color Purple and his segment of The
Twilight Zone the Movie, has been scored by John Williams. See also List of
noted film producer and composer collaborations. Janusz Kaminski has shot every
Spielberg film since Schindler's List (see List of noted film director and
cinematographer collaborations). Michael Kahn has edited every single film
directed by Spielberg from Close Encounters to Munich (except E.T. the
Extra-Terrestrial). Spielberg has worked with George Lucas' digital special
effects house Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) on all his films except The
Terminal, which used effects by Digital Domain.
Spielberg attended the 2006 Electronics
Entertainment Expo (E3) and ended up playing a tennis match against Nintendo's
legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, for their new Wii system. 
Spielberg likes M&Ms, and hates Skittles.
Spielberg is one of the most avid collectors of
meteorites in the world.
On July 16, 2006, Spielberg was awarded the Gold
Hugo, Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chicago International Film Festival's
Has been known to say his favorite movie is Ikiru,
Citizen Kane, The Searchers or Lawrence of Arabia.
Loves to ballroom dance in his off time.[citation
Has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome
At least once during the course of a Spielberg
film, the director uses a low angle tracking shot, filmed almost from the point
of view of a child. In the cases when his films include children, (E.T. the
Extra-Terrestrial, Empire of the Sun, Jurassic Park, etc.) this type of shot is
more apparent, but it is also used in films like Munich, Saving Private Ryan,
The Terminal, Minority Report and Amistad. If one views each of his films, one
will see this shot utilized by the director.
Uses powerful flashlights in dark scenes (e.g.
Jurassic Park, The Lost World, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial)
Frequently uses music by John Williams
Often shows shooting stars
Often portrays fathers as reluctant, absent, or
irresponsible (e.g. E.T. the Extra- Terrestrial)
Often uses images of the sun (e.g The Color Purple,
Empire of the Sun, Saving Private Ryan, the final scene of Jurassic Park and the
end credits of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
Consistent references to World War II
Protagonists in his films often come from families
with divorced parents, most notably E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (protagonist
Elliot's mother is divorced) and Catch Me If You Can (Frank Abagnale's mother
and father split early on in the movie). This perhaps reflects Spielberg's own
experience as a youth with his parents breaking up.
His more recent films all feature a similar ending
at sundown and a pregnant or recently pregnant woman (e.g. Minority Report,
Munich, War of the Worlds)
Frequently casts Tom Hanks, Richard Dreyfuss, Tom
Cruise and Harrison Ford
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