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Spielberg (2017)

A documentary on the life and career of one of the most influential film directors of all time, Steven Spielberg.

Director:

Susan Lacy
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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steven Spielberg ... Himself
Martin Scorsese ... Himself - Director
Richard Dreyfuss ... Himself - Actor
Bill Butler ... Himself - Cinematographer
John Williams ... Himself - Composer
David Edelstein David Edelstein ... Himself - Film Critic
Michael Phillips ... Himself - Producer
Nancy Spielberg ... Herself - Sister
Anne Spielberg ... Herself - Sister
Janet Maslin Janet Maslin ... Herself - Film Critic
Sue Spielberg Sue Spielberg ... Herself - Sister
Leah Adler ... Herself - Parent
Arnold Spielberg ... Himself - Parent
J.J. Abrams ... Himself - Director
Sid Sheinberg ... Himself - Former President of MCA Inc. / Universal
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Storyline

A documentary on the life and career of one of the most influential film directors of all time, Steven Spielberg.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Direct from the heart. See more »


Certificate:

TV-MA

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 October 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Spielberg See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There is no reference to Spielberg's movie "Always" , except brief appearance of Holly Hunter. See more »

Goofs

A clip of "Wayne's World 2" (1993) that parodies "Jurassic Park" is incorrectly labeled as "Wayne's World" (1992). The first "Wayne's World" film could not have included a parody of "Jurassic Park," since "Jurassic Park" had not yet been filmed when "Wayne's World" was released in 1992. See more »

Quotes

Herself - Film Critic: He speaks cinema as if it's his native language.
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User Reviews

 
On making Drew Barrymore cry.
17 March 2018 | by bob-the-movie-manSee all my reviews

"Spielberg" is an HBO-produced documentary by documentarian Susan Lacy. You'll never guess who the subject is?!

Steven Spielberg is a product of one of the most surprising revolutions in Hollywood in the late 70's: one of a set of wunderkind directors alongside such luminaries as George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, John Milius, Brian De Palma and Martin Scorcese. These men (only men, it should be noted!) were ready to cock a snook at Hollywood's traditional studio system to break rules (case in point, Star Wars' lack of opening credits) and move cinema into the format that would last to this day.

As this excellent documentary makes clear, Spielberg was one of the least rebellious of the movie-brats. Even though (astoundingly) he blagged himself a production office at Universal (after hiding during the Tram Tour toilet stop!), his path to the top was through hard graft on multiple Universal TV shows, after recognition of his talents by Universal exec Sidney Sheinberg who speaks in the film.

Before we get to that stage of his life, we cover his childhood back-story as a reluctant Jew living in a non-Jewish neighbourhood, driven to fill his time with tormenting his sisters and movie-making with a Super 8 camera. Scenes of home videos, photos and his early attempts at special effects are all fascinating. The impact of his Bohemian mother Leah and workaholic father Arnold, and particularly the very surprising relationship breakdown that happened between them, go a long way to explain the constant return to 'father issues' in many of his films such as "E.T.", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "Hook" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

The majority of the film though settles down into a roughly chronological review of the highlights of his movie career, with particular emphasis justly being placed on some of the key watershed moments in that career. Most of his films get at least a mention, but "Jaws", "E.T.", "Schindler's List", "The Color Purple", "Jurassic Park", "Munich" and "Empire of the Sun" get more focus. It is such a wonderful trip down my cinematic memory lane. I also forget just what cinematic majesty and craftsmanship is present in these films: I just hope that at some point this will get a Blu-Ray or DVD release so it can be properly appreciated (rather than viewing it on a tiny airplane screen which is how I watched this): the combination of film clips in here is breathtaking.

As might be expected for a documentary about the great director, there is plenty of 'behind the camera' footage on show, some of which is fascinating. Spielberg could always get the very best performances out of the youngsters on set, from Cary Guffey ("Toys!!") in "Close Encounters" to a heartbreaking scene where he reduces the young Drew Barrymore to howls of emotion in "E.T.". A master at work.

All of the movie scenes are accompanied by new interview footage from Spielberg himself, as well as warm platitudes from many of the luminaries he has worked with in the past. Directors involved include many of the the directors referenced above, as well as those modern directors influenced by him such as J.J. Abrams; his go-to cinematographers Vilmos Zsigmond and Janusz Kaminski; his 'go-to' composer John Williams; and stars including his go-to 'everyman' Richard Dreyfuss, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Bob Balaban, Tom Hanks, Opray Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Dustin Hoffman and James Brolin. Some of these comments are useful and insightful; some are just fairly meaningless sound bites that add nothing to the film. What all the comments are though is almost all uniformly positive.

And that's my only criticism of the film. Like me, Susan Lacy is clearly a big fan. It is probably quite hard to find anyone who isn't.... but perhaps Ms Lacy should have tried a bit harder! There is only limited focus on his big comedy flop of 1979, "1941", and no mention at all of his lowest WW grossing film "Always". And there are only a few contributors - notably film critic Janet Maslin - who are willing to stick their head above the parapet and prod into Spielberg's weaknesses; ostensibly his tendency to veer to the sentimental and away from harder issues: the omitted "Color Purple" 'mirror scene' being a case in point.

This is a recommended watch for Spielberg fans. On the eve of the launch of his latest - "Ready Player One", a film that I am personally dubious about from the trailer - it's a great insight into the life and works of the great man. It could though have cut a slightly harder and more critical edge.


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