At the age of 76, Steven Spielberg decided to tell his movie dream from the beginning.
Spielberg’s status in the film industry is beyond doubt. Since the film was born in 1895, Spielberg has gone through 1/3 of its history in the past 130 years. He has changed Hollywood time and time again, changed film history, and has received countless praises.
It is difficult for people to define Spielberg with a label. He’s told about everything under the sun, sharks, dinosaurs, aliens, friendly and unfriendly, pirates, spies, soldiers, and heroes of history and imagination.
Thriller adventure films “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park” come from him – he always knows how to stimulate the audience to secrete adrenaline with superb techniques; the avant-garde VR science fiction film “Ready Player One” is directed by him, and the historic massacre The drama “Schindler’s List” is his famous masterpiece – in the movie, he travels freely between the past and the future, but he always avoids himself.
Tolstoy said that every unfortunate family has its own misfortune, and Spielberg’s family has also experienced various misfortunes in its own way. This time, after waiting for 60 years, he finally decided to return to himself.
On May 25, Steven Spielberg’s new work “The Fabelmans” was released in theaters in mainland China.
This film is adapted from Spielberg’s own personal experience and is considered to be his semi-autobiographical work. The family environment where science and art coexist, the Jewish genes that are incompatible with the people around him, and the secret love between mother and friend… It’s hard to say exactly what factors made Spielberg choose the movie, but everything seemed to happen naturally.
In the previous screening in Berlin, the film was given an average score of 4.9 (out of 5 points) by 39 media, making it one of the films with the highest scores in more than two decades. According to the Canadian website World of Reel, “This is the most critically acclaimed French film of the 21st century”.
In this fascinating autobiographical work, fans will be surprised to find out how Spielberg ended up being Spielberg.
My father told Spielberg that the sky is a place of wonder.
Stills from the movie “Jaws”
Stills from the movie “Jurassic Park”
movie is dream
”Movies are dreams, doll, that you never forget.” On
January 10, 1952, just before Cecil DeMille’s film “The Big Circus” was released, Sam Faberman walked into the theater for the first time , the mother said to him with a smile.
This clip is adapted from the real experience of Steven Spielberg. In “The God of the Box Office: The Biography of Spielberg”, he recalled his first encounter with the movie in this way: “After watching the whole movie, I only remember three things: the train accident, the lion and the character played by Jimmy Stewart. Clowns. I don’t remember much of the rest.”
Likewise, the scene where the train and the car collide in “House of Dreams” rocked Sam. In the middle of the night, he jumped on the bed and said, “I know what I want for Hanukkah (Jewish holiday)!”
After returning from the theater, Sam always wanted to recreate this scene in the movie: he neatly arranged the train carriages. Assemble it, then start it, and at the same time let a small car drive from the opposite side with the villain, and knock over with a bang. Cars crashed and trains derailed.
Spielberg was determined: his future belonged to Hollywood.
The scene terrified and excited Sam at the same time. He wanted to knock over this train again and again.
But for Sam’s computer engineer father, repeated car repairs were no easy task. In order for Sam to watch “Crash the Train” over and over again, his mother brought him an 8mm camera and made “The Crash” into their first “movie,” The Last Train Wreck.
That’s how Sam started filming, making occasional films for his family, and by the time he was a teenager, he was making war films with his friends.
Parents and family are the starting point of Sam and Spielberg’s own movie dreams. But in this family, the movie is not heartwarming, and sometimes plays a cruel role. The most gorgeous scene in the film is during the family camping, led by her relative Uncle Benny, mother Mitz wears a bohemian dress like tulle, and under the light of the headlights of the station wagon, she jumps up and down. Sam on the side was intoxicated and fascinated by it. Sam captured it all with his 8mm camera.
It was this filming that allowed him to discover the secret life of his mother, allowing him to see the broken reality and the cruel truth. “Dream House” brought the antagonism and tension of parents to the table, and Spielberg poured strong personal emotions. After all, this is a secret he has kept for nearly 60 years.
On December 18, 1946, Spielberg was born in an Orthodox Jewish family in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, Arnold, was an electrical engineer, and his mother, Leah, was a classical pianist who loved to dance.
His mother supported him in making films, and his father initially warned him not to make a living out of movies. Personality, occupation and different interests determine the two different values, tearing the family apart.
The father was burdened, running around with family expenses, and worried about being seen as weak in an era of heightened anti-Semitism. In Spielberg’s memory, his father did not shed tears easily. But one night in the middle of the night, he heard a man weeping in the dark, a high-pitched, almost falsetto-like sob that sounded like a ghost coming from somewhere in the room.
He gradually realized that his parents’ marriage had collapsed in the quarrel. Spielberg blamed his father, and in his eyes, Arnold, who was always working hard and going out a lot, was the culprit. But later, he accidentally discovered that the crack was born from his mother’s derailment.
At the age of 19, his parents divorced. Spielberg and his father have been estranged for more than a decade, and this experience has influenced all of Spielberg’s creations: there are workaholic fathers (“Captain Hook”); weak or missing fathers (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”) “ET”, “Empire of the Sun”, etc.); even in “Lincoln”, the father had constant conflicts with his eldest son Robbie and slapped him in the street.
But Arnold played an extremely important positive role in Spielberg’s movie dream.
When he was young, one night, he was woken up by Arnold, and the father and son got into the car in their pajamas. They drove into an open desert area and found a hundred people lying on the sand, staring up at the sky. They also found a place to lie down and watched a spectacular meteor shower. Spielberg was curious: “Where did this come from?” His father told Spielberg that the sky is a place full of wonders. If alien civilizations meet humans, they must be cordial and friendly, and there must be exchanges and dialogues. He brought this imagination to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.
Spielberg had a troubled childhood. The family moved first from New Jersey to Arizona and then to Northern California, where the bright Jewish kid with a movie camera could barely compete with the elite affluent boys around him. In an era of prevalent anti-Semitism, Spielberg’s Jewish identity is roundabout and obscure.
At school, he was bullied and his family was broken, and he became more and more withdrawn.
The camera has become the only way for him to resolve his emotions.
According to Spielberg, he started making movies when he was 12 years old.
When he was a student, Spielberg wore big glasses and looked like a “nerd”. But in fact, Spielberg doesn’t like to study, and often pretends to be sick and cuts classes to edit movies at home.
He’s not exactly the likable student, and if there’s one standout feature, his 8mm video camera is probably the only one.
At that time, most of the students did not have video cameras. When Spielberg first started making short films, his friends thought he was weird. But because of this, this 8mm camera has become his “social passport” and he has made many friends.
He said to his father: “I want to be a director.”
His father said: “If you want to be a director, you have to start from the basics, you have to be a handyman first, and then climb up step by step.”
But Spielberg Ge did not think so: “No, Dad. From the first film I made, I will be a director.”
Spielberg made up his mind: his future belongs to Hollywood.
Spielberg will design shots and edit movies like a serious director. In eighth grade, he began experimenting with making films in various genres, including comedy and horror. At that time, one of his World War II short films – “Fighter Squad” (“Fighter Squad”) also gained a lot of fame. At the age of 13, Spielberg started filming the World War II movie “No Escape” and won a local film award. A local TV news anchor described him in 1961: “There’s a young Cecil B. DeMille out of Phoenix.”
And this is just the beginning. Spielberg’s goal was clear: to be a Hollywood director. In 1962, Spielberg walked into a Hollywood studio for the first time. While visiting family in Los Angeles, Spielberg sneaked into Warner Bros. Studio 16 in Burbank, which was filming a battle scene in Torpedo Boat PT109. He was on set for a long time until the crew shooed him away.
At that time, no one must have thought that 30 years later, Spielberg, who was blasted out in the past, would return to this studio to shoot his own work-“Jurassic Park”.
ticket to hollywood
In 1963, 16-year-old Spielberg was still in his sophomore year of high school. For $300 he made a sci-fi film, “The Spark,” about a Martian invasion of Earth.
After the film was finished and there was no place to show it, Arnold paid for it and rented a venue. On the day of the premiere, Spielberg met the staff of Universal Pictures. He noticed Spielberg’s potential. By chance, he was able to enter the editing department of Universal Studios and became Chuck Silvers’ apprentice.
In fact, after World War II, movies were on the decline, influenced by TV shows, and fewer and fewer Americans went to the movies. At the same time, Hollywood has lost a large number of audiences.
In 1943 wartime Americans spent 25.7 percent of their entertainment budget in movie theaters; by 1960 this proportion had dropped to a mere 5.2 percent. The total number of films released in the United States also fell from nearly 400 in 1943 to about 200 in 1960.
At the time, Spielberg recalled, the film industry had become “a profession for middle-aged people.” On the set of Universal Pictures, young people are basically actors. Spielberg is a special existence in the film production team, known as Phoenix’s “filmmaking prodigy”.
Spielberg aspired to succeed in Hollywood.
I met Universal President Sidney Scheinberg by chance. Spielberg, who was not afraid of tigers when he was born, told him bluntly: “I only have one request. Instead of giving me a promise, give me a hope, Mr. Scheinberg. … I want to lead something before I’m 21, and that’s important to me.”
When Universal Pictures announced the signing of Spielberg on December 12, 1968, he was 21 years old, the youngest filmmaker ever signed by a major studio. In 1974, the adventure film “Rampage” directed by Spielberg achieved great success, and he became a rising star in Hollywood. The famous American film critic Pauline Kael called it “one of the most outstanding debuts in film history”.
Spielberg on the set of Jaws
Spielberg on the set of “Schindler’s List”
For Spielberg, “Schindler’s List” was a belated rite of passage.
However, the film was a hit but not a hit. In order to prove to Hollywood that he is not ignorant of business, Spielberg took over the script of “Jaws”. Twenty years later, the studio’s executive producer, Bill Gilmore, still considers it “the most difficult film to have ever made.”
Jaws is a novel by author Peter Benchley. At the time, Universal Pictures planned to spend $750,000 to make a low-budget film. But considering the environmental conditions required for this film, this budget is not realistic. “If we read “Jaws” again, we may not want to make it into a movie-because it is too difficult.” Universal
executives After repeated consideration of the director candidates, the eyes finally fell on the “newcomer” Spielberg.
Generally speaking, movies with sea scenes are shot in pools and then synthesized in post-production. However, in order to film “Jaws”, Spielberg moved the location to the Atlantic Ocean, and also invited underwater photographers Ron and Valerie Taylor to record real shark life pictures on the reefs off the coast of South Australia.
The producers even wanted to use the hands of a shark trainer to cast a real great white shark, but then at Spielberg’s suggestion, Bob Marty was asked to make three 25-foot-long mechanical sharks.
The tides, ocean currents and even the different colors of sea water under different weathers brought great difficulties to the shooting, and Spielberg even almost gave up. The mechanical sharks were constantly malfunctioning, and Spielberg, who became more and more angry as he shot, gave them a nickname: “giant white scum.” Spielberg attributed many problems to his own perfectionism and inexperience. “I was naive about the sea. I naively thought I could conquer nature, but it was just a display of foolishness and hubris.” In 1975, after budget
overruns, time extensions, “Sharks” In the case of the strike, “Jaws” was difficult to release. A little over two months later, Jaws surpassed Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather as the highest-grossing film of its time, grossing more than $470 million worldwide, and Steven Spielberg became a Hollywood Favorite director.
belated rite of passage
”Jaws” rewrote the rules of Hollywood: the concept of “summer slot” that Hollywood values most today is the origin of this; major studios have seen the potential of big budgets, and at the same time inspired countless thriller adventure masterpieces.
For Spielberg, “Jaws” was an “entry ticket”, and he persuaded Columbia Pictures to continue to increase the budget for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” in the face of extreme financial constraints.
Spielberg, who is in his forties, has directed the three most successful films in film history, “Jaws”, “Encounters of the Third Kind” and “ET”.
But crisis also lurks in it.
Those successful colleagues kept selling him the Hollywood lifestyle: real estate, a lot of real estate, and charity, trying to find fun from it. But Spielberg is clearly at a loss. His first marriage to actress Amy Irwin has broken down. The business also fell into a bottleneck. In the 1980s, he successively made serious works such as “Purple” and “Empire of the Sun”, which were unanimously considered failures at the time. Captain Hook, Peter Pan’s legendary masterpiece, was more expensive and clunky than any other film he had ever made, and it was loved by almost no one, including Spielberg himself. To point out, Spielberg has fallen into self-parody, and it’s even more phony.
Spielberg and ex-wife Amy Irving
At the same time, his accumulating wealth, his astute business practices, his happy demeanor of being a lucky man, has attracted the hate and loathing of the media and the public. Even in the summer of 1993, when “Jurassic Park” was released and quickly replaced “ET” as the highest-grossing film in film history, the critics never dissipated.
Critics believe that there is a huge gap between Spielberg’s technical talent and artistic maturity: his limitations are too obvious.
Spielberg felt that he was out of breath, and he needed to face some unfinished “personal affairs.”
In 1993, he said: “I’ve never been comfortable with myself. I want to be as successful as everyone else, as much as I want to be a filmmaker.” How much of this alter-ego
crisis? Spielberg has no bottom either.
He has a big nose and prominent ears. In high school, he was called the Spielbug by his classmates, and he was taunted by many anti-Semitic bullies. The burden of history and individual experience weighed on him, and he had to face it.
Earlier, Universal president Sidney Scheinberg sent Spielberg a review of Schindler’s List. Spielberg was instantly attracted by the contradictions of the role of “Schindler”, but he was not sure whether he was ready to face the past of the Jewish nation. His family lost several relatives in the massacre, but he always believed it was just a matter of family history. Spielberg tried to pitch the project to other famous directors, but they all declined. Ultimately, he felt it was his duty to make a film about the Holocaust for his family, their children.
When he was filming “Schindler’s List”, he had to examine his identity as a Jew. He gave up his salary and took no money to take over the director of this film. For him, remuneration is a kind of “blood money” tainted with blood.
In terms of film production, he also firmly established a thinking: “It must be accurate, it must be restrained, and it must not show any entertainment.” Critics were flabbergasted when, seemingly overnight, Spielberg was reborn: an Oscar winner, a Jewish public figure, and a great, passionate creator who can balance rigorous storytelling with moral force.
Everyone knew that Schindler’s List would take its place in cultural history and keep it. But for Spielberg, “Schindler’s List” was a belated rite of passage.
back to childhood
Critics once believed that Spielberg did not look like an artist. He is not as sociologically sensitive and deeply emotional as Martin Scorsese; he is not vicious and bold as Brian De Palma, and he is not as complex and elusive as Robert Altman; Coppola was ambitious.
At one time, he only yearned for success in the secular sense of Hollywood. He read financial newspapers every day, studied business logic, and figured out public psychology. He advocated technology and popular culture, and was good at integrating business, art, technology and personal expression in a moderate way. .
”The story I want to tell can’t be finished in my whole life.”
On February 21, 2023, Berlin, Germany, Steven Spielberg received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival
But there’s no denying that his films—whether he wrote, directed, or produced them—have always captured a sense of wonder, sensitivity, and imagination that spanned an era, effectively transporting us to a place that feels new, yet inexplicable. familiar place.
In the 30 years after “Schindler’s List”, he has always alternated between seriousness and entertainment, flexibly interspersed, until recently, he has become more and more proficient. The 2017 “Washington Post” is the ultimate interpretation of the director’s technique, restrained, restrained and deep. The 2018 “Ready Player One” is another highly entertaining pop culture stew.
But Spielberg knows that he still has a proposition that must be faced: self.
Many of Spielberg’s movie inspirations are related to his childhood, which he prepared for 60 years.
In 1999, Spielberg revealed that he hoped to shoot a movie “I’ll Be Home” (“I’ll Be Home”) related to his childhood. At the time, the screenplay was written by his sister, Anne Spielberg. He worried that “my parents didn’t like the movie and would take it as an insult”.
Until 18 years later, the 97-year-old mother passed away in 2017. To commemorate her, “The House of Dreams” also came into being. Spielberg filmed the broken family and mother’s secrets nakedly and sympathetically.
In the movie, Sam’s grandmother has just died, and Sam edits a film for her. Looking back at the camping video of the family mentioned above, Sam discovered the clues between his mother and Uncle Benny. He played the picture of the two holding hands and kissing back and forth frame by frame, repeatedly confirming the love in his mother’s eyes.
”I can’t believe what my eyes tell me, I only believe what the movie tells me.”
Compared with reality, he prefers to believe in movies. Movies are his most faithful and permanent companions. “My first love, my main goal in life, was to make movies. That’s my life, everything else is secondary.”
Spielberg has spent more than half of his life in the world of movies, but he is not tired of it. “I feel that I am no different from when I was 12 years old and used my father’s 8mm camera to shoot a movie. Every time I walk into the set, I have the same feeling.” In February this year, Spielberg won the Berlin International Film Festival Award
. Lifetime Achievement Award. He said at the award ceremony that he wanted to break Manuel de Olivier’s record and keep shooting until he was 106 years old.
What kind of work Spielberg will bring next time, people have no way of predicting. But in 1998, Spielberg once said that his creative life is inexhaustible: “The stories I want to tell can’t be finished in my whole life.”