Spielberg Feared and Loved
The name Spielberg haunted my nightmares for many years. I was afraid of his very existence. I refused to watch any movie made by such a hideous beast in the film industry. I hated everything about him and even referred to him as the devil of film. Interesting commercials for movies would be rejected and turned off the minute Steven was mentioned, I snarled. Years later, I fell in love with his talents, story telling abilities, superb camera angles and use of lighting.
In 1993, my history teacher in our private school showed us a clip or two of Schindler’s list. I was going through an emotionally challenging time with no adult to run to for comfort. With no skirt to hide under, I played the scenes of Schindler’s list over and over in my head trying to make sense of them. My brain tried to fill in the plots even though I refused to learn history that year marking it the first year of epically failing any class especially History. I didn’t want to learn any more about death because I was still traumatized from a family member’s death. The one person I needed to be able to go to about my nightmares was too busy being weak and selfish. Many episodic and circular nightmares pulled me into the first person especially with everyone around me saying I was nothing but skin and bones. These sweaty heart-racing nightmares plagued me for years. Whenever someone suggested a movie, I refused to watch it the minute I heard that Steven was involved in the production. I hated him for causing me nightmares where I would wake up with my thumb in my mouth. This was only from one or two scenes. The shadows, lighting and sounds in those scenes made tarantulas the size of the twin towers in my mind. What horrors would come from watching a whole crafted, created, perfected and produced by the devil of film?
Although Steven produced Hook in 1991, it was not until I saw it after the year 1996, that I appreciated Steven as a film director. No. He didn’t! How could the man birthed in the depths of hell be responsible for such a heaven-sent movie like Hook? I couldn’t believe that Steven could produce such a glorious film that was one of our saving grace of films during my son’s chemo in 2005. My son was very young when we saw it, but we always quoted the lines from the movie. We sang the songs, acted out scenes and watched it repeatedly. The clothes the actors wore were so rich with history, fantasy, and imagination. Hook tore down the veils of hate and fears. I lost my nightmares from Schindler’s list and knew I had to watch it for history, education, and personal growth. I sat down and the missing scenes in my brain from all those years were filled in.
Steven Spielberg had my attention after Hook and Jurassic Park. The time was overdue to watch this famous filmmaker’s career. I loved every camera angle, transition, and lighting, but the sets were always my favorite part of his productions. After memorizing every detail by him, I started comparing film production to this hero. Goonies finalized my decision to worship the artistic style and creation of Steven.
Now, I sought answers. Who was he? How did I not know why people had loved him in the first place? He was so much more than a horror director. Wow. He actually made movies I enjoyed like the dinosaur movies. I should not have loved Jurassic Park, but Steven shouted perfection from everything about the productions.
Hey, this guy isn’t so bad after all. Although I have yet to see Jaws, I have loved watching (1981) Raiders of the Lost Ark, (1982) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, (1984) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, (1985) The Color Purple, (1985) The Goonies, (1987) Empire of the Sun, (1989) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, (1993) Jurassic Park, (1997) The Lost World: Jurassic Park, (2008) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, (2011) The Adventures of Tintin, and (2011) War Horse.
This man is a genius the way he is picky with lighting, camera angles, transitions and even picking the best actor for the part. The children he manages to find are works of adult actors. From reality to fantasy, Steven makes sure that the story of Neverland is kept solid in the backs of your mind as children and also as if you were adults. When different audience members can relate to each character diversely and then revisit the movie relating to the same character in a different way, the film is a genius.
In Hook, the story of Peter Pan continued when he discovered love and fathered his own children. Each child struggle with the battle of never wanting to grow up but become their own boss. The myths behind Neverland is clear that its location is near the brightest sun among the stars. Perfecting the bright lighting from the mythic sun was probably not an easy task, but it was pulled off in style. The sunlight casts shadows according to the trees, structures, and people. When Pan realizes he is the Pan the man, the lighting also casts shadows on doubters and light shines on Pan to demonstrate an almost god like effect. Their savior is at hand. The sounds matching up with the visual effects brought fantasy to reality in each home year after year. This epic film is lost on Pirates living among us, Neverchildren.
In Jurassic Park, Steven’s love for studying science, history, emotional and the psychological impact on our world with dinosaurs is shown in the eyes, hearts, and souls of every character. How he managed to make it feel real for the actors heightened the awareness of the story for the audience. The lighting and shadows emanated the real effects of the sets. The sound that creeps in every heart to today is when the Raptor is hunting the children in the kitchen. The scraping and dread of intelligence is unreal. The CGI of the creatures interact with the actors as if they are in the very room and hearts of the audience. The lighting in the abandoned buildings have to show us the activities of the characters but does not take away from the dangers they face. When the characters are turning on the electricity in the main power house, the lighting had to be brought up enough to show us what was happening without taking away from the power outage. The horrors of the blood throughout the film gave it an edge. I have been shamed for laughing at the blood sucking lawyer being eaten of the toilet, but I understood Steven’s need to tell that subplot with style.
Steven Spielberg should have been appreciated from the beginning and I look forward to reviewing every film he has ever created, produced or consulted on. Although I despise horror, I would be honored and look forward to the day that I am a corpse in a movie he has created.
PJae AKA Jae Byrd Wells