Spielberg (2017) Movie Script

( camera rolling )
( music playing )
Steven Spielberg:
I started making movies
when I was a young kid,
but I remember the time
I almost gave up my dream
of being a movie director.
I must have been 16.
( music playing )
A movie came into town
called "Lawrence of Arabia,"
and everybody
was talking about it.
I never sat in a fancy
theater seat before.
Premium ticket price,
70mm projection,
stereophonic sound.
And when
the film was over,
I wanted to not be
a director anymore
because the bar
was too high.
There was a scene
where he looked at himself
in that sword/knife,
when he was first
given the robes
and he thought
he was alone.
And he walked
around laughing
and looking at his shadow
where the diaphanous robe
he was holding out
was actually imprinted
- on the sand in shadow.
- ( laughs )
It was a great moment.
And then later,
when they route
the retreating Turks,
you see him again
covered in gore.
And he's got the knife
in the same position
he had it
in his pristine days,
in his glory days.
And he's looking at himself,
who he's become.
It was the first time,
seeing a movie,
I realized that
there are themes that aren't
narrative story themes.
There are themes
that are character themes,
that are personal themes.
That David Lean
created a portraiture,
surrounded the portrait
with a mural
of scope
and epic action,
but at the heart and core
of "Lawrence of Arabia"
is "Who am I"?
- ( gunfire )
- ( all yelling )
I had such a profound reaction
to the filmmaking,
and I went back
and saw the film
a week later.
I saw the film
a week after that.
And I saw the film
a week after that.
And I realized that
there was no going back,
that this was going to be
what I was gonna do
or I was gonna
die trying.
But this was going to be
the rest of my life.
( music playing )
( explosion )
( music continues )
( roaring )
( distant explosions )
( music continues )
And then trying to get--
it felt lined up.
- Man: The camera
just gotta go right.
- Just a little bit lower.
That's good right there.
That's perfect.
Yeah, camera has to go
right a bit, please.
Go right.
- Right, right, right, right.
- Man: Can you get there?
Right there
would be good.
Every time I start
a new scene, I'm nervous.
And it's like
going to school,
having to take a test.
I never heard the lines
spoken before.
I don't know
what I'm gonna think
of hearing the lines,
I don't know what
I'm gonna tell the actors,
I don't know where
I'm gonna put the camera.
And every single time,
it's the same.
But I tell you,
it's the greatest feeling
in the world.
I'll tell you
why it's a good feeling.
The more
I'm feeling confident
and secure
about something,
the less
I'm gonna put out.
The more I'm feeling,
"Uh-oh, this could be
a major problem
in getting
the story told,"
I'm gonna work overtime
to meet the challenge
and get the job done.
All right, that's done.
I don't know if it's worth it.
And so, I hate the feeling
of being nervous,
but I need to feel
in this moment
I'm really not sure
what I'm doing.
And when that verges on panic,
I get great ideas.
The more I feel
backed into a corner,
the more rewarding
it becomes
when I figure my way out
of the corner.
I love it.
Next shot.
- ( music playing )
- ( muffled chatter )
( yelling )
- Did you see that?
- Yes.
( screams )
( muffled screaming )
Martin Scorsese:
I remember when Steven
was in production on "Jaws,"
the word around town
and in the "LA Times"
was that it was folly
and that it was gonna be
a disaster.
Richard Dreyfuss:
"Jaws" started filming
on May 2nd.
I was hired,
I think, on May 3rd,
and they had no shark,
no script, and no cast
when they first started,
The script
was never locked.
We were
rewriting the script
12 hours
before we were shooting
what we just wrote.
You know, it's scary
for a director to not know
if he's gonna be able
to hand pages to his cast
the next morning.
Guys, we can't shoot
right now.
- Hold on.
- Man #2: Hold on.
This is my second day
at sea
and I have
54 more days to go.
And if I survive this,
I'll have learned a lot,
because right now all I can
tell you is
it's twice as slow
shooting at sea as it is
shooting on land.
Bill Butler: Well, the studio
had never shot a film
on the ocean before.
They would do it
on the back lake.
They would do it
in a studio tank.
They would make
miniature boats.
They would--
everything would be so easy
that you would never
get cold or wet.
But Steven said,
"I'm gonna shoot
in the open ocean."
Roll sound.
This was supposed
to be a thriller
based on people
like you and me that are
out of our element
and having to fight something
we have no comprehension
how to deal with.
That needs a level
of authenticity
that I thought shooting it
in the back lot
at Universal
in North Hollywood
would not give it.
So, to me,
there was no going back.
It had to be shot
in the ocean.
( music playing )
I thought it was
gonna be a cakewalk,
but I didn't know anything
about tides or currents.
I didn't know
about how the wind
affects the water,
how the color of the sky
changes the color
of the water,
or how you can't get
anything to match.
It was one nightmare,
worst-case scenario
after the other.
I didn't think
we'd ever finish.
I had just assumed
I'd be fired off the picture.
We were isolated
in the middle of the ocean,
12 miles offshore,
and it was technology
over art every single day.
We'd get a shot,
art was there,
but you couldn't recognize
the art from the effort.
Just trying to hold
a whole movie story
in my head
is a very lonely thing,
because nobody can really
help me with that.
I have to see it
before I film it.
And that's why
it was so scary on "Jaws"--
when I couldn't see it
until I finally did.
Just before I went off
to make "Jaws," I got to meet
Henry Hathaway.
He was kind of
a tough-guy director,
and he said,
"There's gonna be moments
where you're gonna
get to the set
and you're not gonna know
what the hell you're doing.
It happens to all of us.
You've gotta
guard that secret
with your life.
Let no one see
when you're unsure
of yourself.
Hide that
from everybody,
or you'll lose
the respect of everyone."
- Man #2: Good blood.
- Spielberg: And... ready?
- And action, Roy.
- Slow ahead.
I can go slow ahead.
You ought to come down
and ladle some of this shit.
And down.
Absolutely everything
was falling apart.
The first time
we tested the shark,
it sunk.
It would come up
out of the water and go...
( vocalizing )
Like that.
I knew that it's gonna take
three or four weeks
to rebuild the shark,
and so we'd have to make up
something else
that didn't exactly
show the shark
but gave the sense
the shark was near.
Bring it around
after him!
The barrels were a godsend,
because I didn't need to show
the shark as long as those
barrels were around.
What you don't see
is generally scarier
than what you do see,
and the script was filled
with "shark."
Shark here, shark there,
shark everywhere.
The movie doesn't have
very much shark in it.
( boat engine starting )
John Williams:
If the shark had been
available visually,
it might have changed
the whole psychology
of the experience.
( music playing )
When you hear,
"boom-boom, boom-boom,"
you've already been
conditioned to think that's
when the shark is present.
When the shark is far away,
it's very faint.
When the shark is just about
to attack, it's very close
and it's very loud.
Williams: We can advertise
the shark's presence
or his attitude
by how we manage
these notes,
just very few notes.
You are in a state of anxiety
without seeing a shark.
It just scares the crap
out of you.
take my word for it!
Don't look back!
Swim, Charlie!
Come on, Charlie!
Dun-dun, dun-dun.
Dun-dun, dun-dun, dun-dun,
bom, bom, bom, bom, bom, bom.
Come on,
a little more, Charlie.
Come here, Charlie.
Attaboy. Attaboy.
David Edelstein:
It is a perfect exercise
in suspense
with technique
that any other filmmaker
would kill for.
Spielberg: I knew I was using
an electric cattle prod
on the audience
every time
there was some kind
of a pop-up surprise.
Michael Phillips:
Like Hitchcock, he knows
how to get you
on the edge of your seat.
He doesn't show you
what you want to see,
and then he delivers it
when he wants to deliver it.
- ( screams )
- J. Hoberman: He certainly
likes torturing the audience.
Has he ever been
in analysis?
( thunder rumbling )
1, 1,000; 2, 1,000;
3, 1,000; 4, 1,000...
Everything scared me
when I was a kid.
- 1, 1,000;
2, 1,000;
3, one...
- ( thunder rumbling )
I had a tree out my window
that was terrifying.
It was just terrifying.
1, 1,000; 2, 1,000...
I was filled
with so much fear
that I needed
to exorcise some of that.
And what better audience
to exorcise myself
of my demons
than my three sisters.
( music playing )
He would lock us
in the closet with a skull,
which he had dripped
different colors of wax
all over.
It almost looked
like blood.
I'd blindfold them
one at a time,
bring them
into the closet.
I'd put my whole body weight
against the door.
They'd take
their blindfold off,
and I would just sit there
listening to them screaming.
I mean, telling
this story now...
I still think
it was pretty cool.
I was gonna say,
"I hate myself for that."
I don't hate
myself for that.
It was fun.
At first,
he just scared us.
But through his movies,
he gets to scare the shit
out of everybody now.
( screams )
- ( screaming )
- Dan Rather:
The blockbuster movie
of the summer,
of course, is "Jaws,"
a tale of a murderous
white shark on the loose.
And that movie's release
was well timed
for maximum impact
during the vacation season,
and some people
who have seen it
are now seeing phantom sharks
every time they go
near the water.
I remember the night
"Jaws" opened.
I was with Steven.
He said, "Let's go
and see the lines."
And we were looking, going by
all the lines in Westwood
and places like that,
and I said, "This is it.
This is gonna be
a major change."
Janet Maslin:
I was with him in the car
and he was really,
really nervous but excited.
And the car
went around the corner,
and there was the line
went around the corner,
and then the car kept going,
and the line kept going.
And he was
absolutely beside himself.
You know, it was
this instant breakthrough.
It was like
balloons were exploding
inside of this car.
And his whole life changed
in that couple of minutes.
And he was 25 years old
or something.
"Jaws" went
triple its budget
and it went about
two and a half times
its schedule.
We wound up shooting
the movie in 159 days.
The film was originally
scheduled for 55 days.
But my hubris
was I actually thought
I could shoot the film
in 55 days.
Steven shook the very bones
of Hollywood.
"Jaws" made more money
than any film had ever made
up to that time.
The success of that
changed my life.
You know,
it gave me final cut.
It gave me a chance
to pick and choose
the movies I directed
from that moment on.
So "Jaws" was a free pass
into my future.
- ( music playing )
- ( applause )
I want you to meet
a filmmaker now who has taken
the movie-going public
and shaken it to
its very roots.
- Oh, boy!
- Aren't you excited?
- And everybody loves it.
- Have you seen it?
Dinah Shore:
Please welcome
Mr. Steven Spielberg.
- ( applause )
- ( music playing )
When did you first
really get interested
in movies?
When I was
a bad little kid.
- Really?
- About, yeah, 13 years old.
- That was the whole thing?
- Very early starter, yeah.
Not-- I didn't
take it seriously.
I did it--
like some people paint
and some people like to,
you know, drive little cars,
and I liked to make
little movies.
I didn't realize
there was 50 years
of filmmaking before me.
And I lived
in Phoenix, Arizona,
where you can listen
to cactus grow if you have
nothing better to do.
- Yeah.
- And I took
a movie camera
and I was learning
sort of the ABCs
as I went along,
but it was just fun,
it was something to do.
( music playing )
I really wanted
my childhood to be
sort of the pie-in-the-sky,
Norman Rockwell American Dream.
My dad was this computer genius
that was on the team
that invented
the first commercial
data processing machine
at RCA back in 1950,
and so my dad
was headhunted a lot and
went from company to company.
Like Army brats,
we moved from place to place.
But most of my formative years
took place in Phoenix, Arizona.
My father was the American man
who worked very hard.
Sometimes worked six days a week
and he came home late at night.
His career demanded
a lot of time away
from the family.
And my mom
was Peter Pan.
She was a sibling,
not a parent,
she was a best friend,
not a primary caregiver.
And she got into trouble
like we got into trouble.
Steve had a feeling
that family should be
like "Father Knows Best,"
but we were not
the usual family.
We just kind of were bohemians
growing up in suburbia.
I went to a pet store one day,
and there was a monkey
sitting in a cage
like this, fetal position.
And the shopkeeper said
the monkey was dying.
He had been
taken away from his mother
and he was depressed.
So, I come home,
driving my jeep
with a big cage in the back
and a monkey in the cage.
And I remember
the kids freaked out.
They were so scared.
Steve said, "You know,
in a normal household,
kids say,
'Can we have a monkey?'
And the mother says,
'Are you crazy?'"
You know, when I hear
my stories about
the things I've done,
I think, "That's crazy."
Susan Lacy:
Did you think
she was crazy?
I liked the monkey.
( birds chirping )
( music playing )
As a child, I spent a lot
of my time watching television,
or listening
to soundtrack albums,
or just sitting around,
looking at the clouds.
My dad was always on me
for that.
He did not
like me getting Cs,
but school was not a place
I was really drawn to.
Steve was a kid that was
sort of watchful and tentative
and in some ways hesitant.
You know, he wasn't
like the normal kids
in the neighborhood.
He wasn't the muscle guy.
You know,
he got bullied a lot.
That was tough.
Most of my demons
were self-inflicted wounds.
They were things
inside myself.
The way I saw myself.
I didn't have a lot
of high esteem for myself,
you know, growing up.
I just was a lonely guy.
J.J. Abrams:
I think that explained a lot
of why and how
he was compelled
to make movies.
It was not just a means
of expression,
but it was
a means of escape,
and it was a means of sometimes
making friends with people
that you couldn't otherwise,
or getting to hang out
with girls that you might not
be able to otherwise,
or just finding a way
to have meaning.
The camera was my pen.
I wrote my stories
through the lens.
And when I was able to say
"action" and "cut,"
I wrested control
of my life.
( music playing )
I love films like
the "Sands of Iwo Jima,"
the "Flying Tigers,"
films that I'd see
on television.
And I would watch
these things over and over
and over again.
I was really influenced
by all that stuff,
and so my first
couple of movies
were stories
about World War II.
There was
an airport with a bunch
of World War II airplanes
just sitting out there
on the tarmac.
( explosion )
I would take a shot
of my friend with his finger
on the stick
and intercut
actual 8mm combat footage.
A lot of it
shot by John Ford,
by the way.
And made a movie
that looked like
the production value
was off the charts
because the production value
was off the charts.
It was the real thing.
( music playing )
You can just look
at those movies,
and you see the ability
to tell a story without words.
His use
of primitive special effects
was spectacular.
You know, he'd have
big bullet hits,
he'd put little
see-saws of dirt,
so that when his actors
were running,
they'd step
on one piece,
and it would sort of catapult
the dirt up in the air
as if they were being shot
as they were running.
There were things
that he did that just
made complete sense.
You saw the trajectory.
There was something
in the DNA of it that,
despite it being shot
on 8mm film,
was the voice
of that same filmmaker.
But I didn't know
anything about whether
I was gonna have a career
or where this was gonna go.
I just knew that it filled up
the time and it gave me
a tremendous amount
of satisfaction.
And the second
I finished a movie,
I wanted to start a new one
because I felt good
about myself when I was
making a film.
But when I had
too much time to think,
all those scary whispers
would start-- start up.
It was not fun to be me
in between ideas or projects.
( music playing )
Sid Sheinberg:
The lore has it
that as a young man,
Steven was sort of
the Phantom of the Opera,
haunting the lot
of Universal Studios.
He would literally
get on the lot
one way or another.
I got on the studio
tour bus,
took a jaunt
around the back lot.
And then at one point
they give you a bathroom break,
and I never came out
of the bathroom.
I waited till
I could hear a pin drop,
and then came out.
The bus was gone
and I was on the lot.
James Brolin:
Word was that he went upstairs
in the tower and took an office
on the sixth floor,
and nobody bothered him
for six months.
The story was
he requisitioned an office,
telephone, put his name
on the door.
Eh, I don't believe it,
but you know what they said
in "The Man Who Shot
Liberty Valance"--
when the legend
is bigger than the facts,
print the legend.
Roger Ernest:
One time he sneaked
onto Alfred Hitchcock's set
and watched him
direct a little bit
until he got caught
and was asked to leave.
Steve was
constantly learning,
constantly looking,
constantly asking questions
from all
of the tradespeople--
lighting, editors.
It was like Spielberg 101
in overdrive.
I tried very hard
to get into USC Film School,
and I just didn't have
the grades to get in.
And I even had
a personal interview at USC,
and they turned me down
even in person.
So, Universal became
my film school.
( music playing )
Steven was laser focused.
He never lost sight
of the fact that the audience
early on, for him,
wasn't the audience
in the theater.
The audience were
the studio executives.
And he figured out
how to make a film
that will convince
the studio executives that,
"Yes, I have the talent
to be a director.
This is what I can do."
I looked at this film,
and I was very taken with it.
I had
a very strong feeling
that this was not
your average young filmmaker.
Spielberg: Sid Sheinberg,
who was President of Universal
Television at the time,
he said, "So, sir,
I saw your film.
Very well made.
I'd like to offer you
a seven-year contract
to come to Universal
to direct television."
He said,
"If you sign with us,
I will support you
as strongly in failure
as I will in success."
And he was true
to his word.
And that was the beginning
of the most important
I could ever imagine having
in this business.
Steven was known
as the uncrowned prince.
He was the guy
who was gonna make it.
I mean, he was directing
Joan Crawford
when he was 20.
That'll teach you
a lot of things.
( chuckling )
Joan Crawford is the first
professional SAG member
I ever directed
in my life!
I want to see something!
Trees, concrete, buildings,
grass, airplanes, color!
Scorsese: It was Cassavetes
who said, "If you want to be
a real filmmaker,
you can't be afraid
of anything or anybody."
And Steven's not.
He's there with Joan Crawford
who wants him out every day.
And he's gotta shoot
and be on schedule
and be good,
meaning that
it has to have a vision.
The shots have to have
a point of view.
But after "Night Gallery"
came out,
there was a lot of criticism
on the fact that I was
a novelty item.
The youngest term director
ever put under contract
in history.
And the producers
who were doing the hiring
wouldn't hire me.
There was
a lot of hostility,
and I had to prove myself
to everybody.
You know, they looked at me
as sort of Sheinberg's folly.
He underwrote me.
Let him find me work.
( music playing )
I had wanted to direct,
and Steven walks in,
and he's a kid!
And I'm envious as hell
right away.
Steven's able
to walk into a room,
look for a second or two,
say, "Here. Here.
Move that here.
Give me a 25mm here.
Put it this way.
Face forward.
Move it.
Silhouette here.
Two takes, three takes.
That's enough. Thanks.
Let's move on."
It was amazing.
Steven Bochco:
Steven had a gear
in his brain
that automatically translated
words into pictures
almost without it being
a conscious process for him.
There was a unique
visual voice there
that you had to not only
pay attention to,
but you had to give
somewhat of a free rein to.
( music playing )
My early themes always had
the underdog being pursued
by indomitable forces
of both nature
and natural enemies,
and that person has to rise
to the occasion to survive.
And a lot of that
comes just from
the insecurities
I felt as a kid
and how that bled over
into the work.
I was always the kid
with the big bully,
and "Duel" was my life
in the schoolyard.
The truck was the bully,
and the car was me.
( horn honks )
George Lucas: I was over
at Francis Coppola's,
and "Duel"
was gonna be shown
that night,
so I sort of snuck away
from the party
and said,
"I wanna see this film.
I wanna see what this kid did."
I was sort of on the fence
about Steven.
I said,
"Knows what he's doing,
nice, but a little
too Hollywoody for my taste."
I saw "Amblin',"
and I thought "Amblin'"
was nice,
but it wasn't-- you know,
it was very, very flashy.
It was very,
very professional.
And for the rest of us,
we were all rough-edged,
crazy guys that were doing
much more dirty work.
So, I thought,
"Well, I'll watch
the first half hour
and just see
what he's up to."
And I ended up watching
the whole thing.
And I came down to Francis,
I said, "This guy's amazing.
You really gotta look
at this film."
( cash register dings )
Right off the bat,
it was clear
that no one moved the camera
like Steven Spielberg.
- ( bell rings )
- ( billiard balls clack )
Other directors had
a fantastic sense of space.
Orson Welles,
you name it,
people who understood
But the way
that Spielberg's camera
moved through a shot
and then ended up somewhere
that completely shifted
or intensified the emotion
of the scene,
that was just
a natural gift he had.
Who knows
where that came from.
Who-- but it was
his own technique.
Francis Ford Coppola:
"Duel" was a composition
that had a very elusive
and interesting theme.
You know,
this unknown menace.
Everyone's been on a road
and some idiot has crossed
in front of you,
and, you know, you're tempted
to rev up fast
and go do something
nasty to him.
And here he took this
and made it into a parable.
( horn honking )
When ABC saw "Duel,"
they were very excited
by what they were seeing.
But at the very, very end
when the truck did not explode
in a pyrotechnics display,
George Eckstein
called me and said,
"Network's really upset
that the truck didn't blow up,
so they're ordering us
to go back to that cliff
and blow the truck up."
And I said,
"I'm not gonna do it."
The death of the truck
is so agonizing.
I said, "I made
that truck die slowly."
The oil, like blood, dripping
off the steering wheel.
The wheel slowly rolling
to a stop.
The fan still going,
but the truck's dying.
I mean, it's the death
of the truck.
That's what the audience
wants to see.
This criminal element
you know, paying the price
for what it did to this man.
I wouldn't do it.
I wouldn't blow up the truck.
For Steven, the little screen
was an interesting canvas,
and obviously he painted
on it very well,
but he knew
that this screen
simply wasn't
a large enough canvas.
( music playing )
Vilmos Zsigmond:
He's a director who know
how important
cinematography is,
and the way Steven directed
"Sugarland Express"
was so fresh,
you know,
because everything
was on location.
And half of the movie
was inside of a police car.
And that was
difficult thing to--
to keep that alive
all the time.
You know, the angles
and all that.
I see lights,
a whole bunch.
For me, directing
is camerawork,
and so I'm very
on the front line of that.
I've gotta set up the shot,
I've gotta block the actors,
choreograph the movement
of the scene,
bring the camera
into the choreography,
figure out
when the camera stops,
how it moves,
how far it moves,
what the composition is,
so I've always got
my eye on the lens,
and that's what I do.
I even pick the lens
I want.
( music playing )
His strength
is really the ability
to be able to tell a story
in pictures instinctively.
I sometimes watch
his pictures on TV
without the sound
just to see the pictures.
( music playing )
Edelstein: Pauline Kael,
one of the most influential
film critics of all time,
wrote in "The New Yorker"
that Steven Spielberg had made
one of the most
phenomenal debuts
in the history of film.
She compared him
to Howard Hawks
in terms of how natural
his feel for the medium was.
What Kael
saw in Spielberg
was someone
with a real movie sense,
but she also said
she wasn't necessarily sure
there was great depth
to go with it.
She didn't see a sign
of an emerging film artist
like Martin Scorsese.
What she saw instead
was the birth
of a new generation
Hollywood hand.
( music playing )
Martin Scorsese,
filmmaker of "Mean Streets."
This is Brian De Palma,
loud as ever.
( chatter )
- George and Marcia Lucas.
- Hi!
And this is Steven.
Get the camera arranged.
Time has come today
Young hearts
can go their way...
In the mid to late '60s,
there was a major change
in the Hollywood
studio system.
It was a very different world
they had to serve,
and there was
a new freedom, too.
Brian De Palma:
So, suddenly the doors were
open for young directors
with very crazy,
seemingly original ideas.
It's almost like, you know,
crashing a party.
( laughs )
Yeah, people
were on the way out,
and we were going in.
We were absolutely obsessed
with movies,
but we certainly
didn't look at it
as a career.
We didn't think we were ever
gonna make any money at it.
De Palma:
There was George
and Francis,
and then there was
Marty and me,
and then
there was Steven.
We came
from different places,
but needless to say,
we were always very happy
to be together.
When we got together,
it was like a fraternity
of directors.
George, put the camera
on the table, on--
I'm gonna hit a ball
into the lens,
and you pick the camera up
at the last moment.
When I got into the group
of the Movie Brats,
as somebody
once called us,
I never--
it was the first time
I felt like an insider.
- ( music playing )
- ( chatter )
We were very, very fortunate
to be part of that time.
The culture
was converging.
That's Albert.
It was filmmakers,
it was artists,
musicians, performers.
It was an incredible,
fertile time.
And here we have
Amy Irving in the car.
Brian De Palma introduced us
when she was making "Carrie."
- That's how we first met.
- De Palma: Then they started
to go out together.
They were together
and then they were apart,
and then they got back
together again.
- De Palma:
Amy half dressed.
- As usual, sewing.
Yes, sewing Steven's pants
to get him ready
for the big day
that's coming very soon.
- Noogies, noogies.
- ( laughs )
Steven was a nerd.
( laughs )
Master of the world!
A loveable nerd,
but he was a nerd.
He was not into sports
or drugs or rock 'n' roll,
but he was passionate
and he was so enthusiastic.
He used to love
to talk about film,
and it was infectious,
his enthusiasm.
- Steven had
the first car phone.
- ( phone ringing )
It's ringing.
So, Steven and I
used to go around
and call up a girl and say,
"Well, let's get together,"
and she'd say, "Fine."
And then of course we'd be
parked right outside her house.
That was like--
I would say--
it may seem
extremely silly now,
but in those days
it was like a miracle.
He was fun.
He was fun to be around.
I'm Julia Child,
the French chef.
- ( gasps )
- ( laughs )
Today we are carving...
turkey for Thanksgiving!
De Palma:
We were all struggling
with our first
very unsuccessful attempts
to penetrate
the Hollywood establishment,
but Steven was working
all the time.
Steven always was
a creature of the studio,
and his thinking
and his methodology
went that direction,
and he became
a master of it.
He was very fortunate
that the kind of movie
he really had a sense for
was also the kind of movie
that the audience
had a sense for.
We are now
in the Scorsese kitchen.
We are going to show
"Hell's Angels."
We all gravitated
towards each other.
We had that one thing
that kept us all together,
the one element.
The one kind of a madness
and an obsession with movies.
We were consulting
with each other,
and unabashedly giving opinions
about each other's works.
It was very much that way,
but we were
still competitive.
"Come and see my movie.
Sit down-- sit here.
The sound's best here."
And blow
the other guy away.
Everybody was sort of
forced to do a better job
to impress everybody,
because Marty had done
this movie,
or Francis had done
that movie.
They became
like the acid test.
You get some real grounding
and you hope an honesty--
maybe not too honest.
George showed a bunch of us
"Star Wars"
for the first time,
and there were
no effects in yet.
It was just World War II,
black-and-white stock footage
intercut with blue screen
production color footage,
and then showed
that movie to us,
expecting us to be able
to see the movie.
It was basically
a children's film.
You know, it wasn't what
the other friends of mine
would think of as something
really worthwhile.
Steven was the one person
who was really enthusiastic
about it
and said, "This is gonna be
a huge smash."
Spielberg: But George said,
"I think it's gonna be
a disaster."
He was very depressed,
and we all went
to a Chinese restaurant
after the film was over,
and Brian stood up
and started to geschrei about,
"What's going on around here?
I don't understand the story.
Who are these people?
Who's the hairy guy?
Where do they come from?
Where's the context?
Where's the backstory?
It's driving me crazy."
Brian went off
on George.
And George just sat there.
He turned red.
George, I think,
wanted to kill him.
But out of all that,
something great came.
Brian basically
said, "You need, like,
an old-fashioned movie
to start the picture
with a foreword,
and all these words
come on the screen,
and they travel up,
and the foreword tells you
what the hell you're looking at
and why you're in the theater
and what the mythology is.
Tell us
what this world is,
and then we can enjoy
the picture."
And that was the birth
of the famous prologue.
De Palma:
Steven came to visit me
when I was shooting "Scarface,"
and I gave him
one of the units
to shoot the Colombians
coming up the staircase.
- ( gun clicks )
- Say hello to my little friend.
De Palma:
So, we were just shooting
people getting shot
for a couple of weeks.
We all had great respect
for each other's work,
and we were just trying
to help each other out
when we would
see things that we thought
could be improved.
Man: All right,
now I am turning the--
the camera over
to our new director--
That's the worst swish pan
I've ever seen.
The worst swish pan
I've ever seen.
He's shooting me.
I'm totally in darkness.
How do you expect
to see anything?
Lucas: It's kind of like
what happened in Paris
in the '20s.
You know,
you get a group of people,
they're all crazy people,
and they're controversial
and doing the same struggle,
but you sort of look at it
later and you say,
"How could
that whole group--"
the whole group
became successful
and dominated
the film business.
It's like,
how could that be?
We were just
a bunch of crazy kids.
But, you know, I think
a lot of it was really
love of film
and all desperate to make film
any way we could.
( music playing )
( gasping )
Oh, my God.
Tony Kushner:
When you're watching
Steven's movies,
you feel like
you're in the presence
of something mysterious
and inexpressible
and poetic.
very simple pleasures--
being scared, being amused,
being dazzled.
( music playing )
I had been very influenced
by how far Stanley Kubrick
took "2001: A Space Odyssey"
into the world of, really,
expressionist art,
and I wanted to take
"Close Encounters"
even further.
I really wanted the audience
to look at the screen and say,
"I'm having a sighting,"
but I wasn't sure
any of this was gonna work.
Bob Balaban:
It was very risky.
The effects
for "Close Encounters"
basically had never
been done before.
He shot the people
with a motion control camera,
making the camera move,
pan, tilt,
whatever he want to do.
And then that's recorded,
actually, on a tape,
and then when Doug Trumbull,
the special effects
goes back to
the post production
he can actually duplicate
exactly that camera move.
Balaban: So, when you
married the two images,
they were perfect,
and you could have,
for really about
the first time,
moving special effects.
Always before, you had
to kind of sit there quietly,
because if you moved,
it would destroy everything.
is doing that today.
They could not be doing
those effect movies
unless Steven and Doug didn't
try all these things already.
Phillips: The stakes
were so high for Steven
on "Close Encounters."
Columbia Pictures
was literally on the verge
of bankruptcy,
and they bet the farm
on this movie.
He had bankers and Hollywood
breathing down his neck
to prove to the world
that "Jaws" wasn't a fluke.
So, Steven had
a giant responsibility
on his shoulders,
but he had to stay true
to what worked for him,
or it wasn't gonna be
a good film.
And he did.
Win or lose,
he made the movie that
he had dreamed of making.
When I was a kid,
my dad took me to watch
the Perseid meteor shower
and introduced me to the sky
as a place
of unspeakable wonders.
And because
it was such a beautiful
experience for me,
the heavens promised
if there was ever gonna be,
you know,
a first meeting
between an extraterrestrial
civilization and our own,
it would only be benign
and constructive.
It would be
a conversation.
( high notes playing )
( low notes playing )
When these extraterrestrials
are coming here,
we don't know
what they can speak,
what they understand,
or even what they see,
so Steven had this idea
that communication
should be a combination
of sound and light.
( notes playing )
( notes playing )
I had first thought
mathematics would be
the common language
between intergalactic species,
but I thought it would be
much more emotional
if music was how we spoke
to one another.
( music playing )
I don't search for films
that have
a spiritual core.
There's a spiritual part
of myself that happens
to bleed over into the work,
and so I subconsciously,
which is the only choice
that's important,
will find things
that inherently have
something of a belief system
that's beyond
our understanding,
that's a little bit out there.
"Close Encounters" was
much more a personal statement
than his previous
two movies had been.
I mean,
he wrote the script.
It really meant
a huge amount to Steven.
Its genesis
was from a film
I had actually written
and directed when I was 17.
( music playing )
It was the story of
man's first contact with UFOs.
And there were actually
UFOs in "Firelight"
that I created.
I saw a lot of movies,
and I had a whole card
catalogue in my brain
of the things I had seen.
And just by watching movies
with special effects in them,
I could figure
most everything out.
In a way, he had lived
with "Close Encounters"
since he was a child.
And he had a vision
in a real palpable sense
of what this movie
should feel like
when you experience
the movie.
Steven doesn't want to make
little personal movies.
He wants to make
big personal movies.
That's not right.
That's not right.
That's not right.
That's not right.
I identified
with this obsession
that Richard Dreyfuss
was struggling with.
I was Neary
in that movie.
Something opens up
his imagination
to go for something
that he thinks
is going to provide
some cathartic answer.
He had to go
through chaos
to reach
some kind of clarity.
He was an artist
trying to plumb
the depths
of his imagination.
And so I think
in a sense
"Close Encounters"
is maybe the most,
at least certainly
the most personal film
I had made
up to that point,
because it was also about
the dissolution of a family.
( crying )
Nancy: I remember when we moved
to Northern California
from Arizona.
I had sensed that things
weren't going well
with my parents.
And one day,
my dad just broke down,
and I never had seen
my dad cry before.
And I just stood there
in the kitchen,
outraged that my father
was not a man.
He was crying
like a little boy.
And I started
screaming "crybaby" at him
as loud as I could.
Just started screaming,
"Crybaby, you crybaby,
you crybaby,"
until they pushed me
out of the kitchen.
Roy, promise me
that you'll go!
You crybaby!
You crybaby!
You crybaby!
- You crybaby! Crybaby!
- Get out of here!
Get out!
Come on, you guys.
- Crybaby!
- Come on.
You crybaby!
- Be quiet!
- Ronnie: Stop it!
My mom went from being
completely joyful
and celebrative
about life itself
to being full of despair
and palpable sadness.
( music playing )
I would see my mom
going into the living room
and playing some Schumann
and crying.
Crying to the point
she couldn't see the notes
on the paper.
I'd sit with her
and hold her hand,
talk to her.
She just said,
"I'm so lonely here.
I'm so sad here."
I was going through
the same thing.
And all I knew
was that my dad
was fulfilled up there,
and we weren't.
So, when it was announced
by my mom
that my mom and my dad
were splitting up,
I didn't know
any of the details.
I didn't know
why they were splitting up,
and I didn't
for a long time.
I didn't want to know.
I fell in love
with somebody else.
I was madly in love
with Bernie Adler.
I look back, I think,
"How dare I do that?"
But I really didn't care
at that point.
It was all about me
and my unhappiness.
Bernie had been
my father's best friend,
and he was a fixture.
It was like
having an uncle.
I never would tell the kids
that she divorced me.
Instead, I let them think
I divorced her.
Why did you do that?
Protecting her
'cause she's fragile.
And she still is.
And so, I figured I could be
hurt less than she.
I still loved her.
My dad and my stepfather
were best friends.
My mom married
Dad's best friend.
You look at the big picture,
that's shit.
That's really bad.
It didn't hit me
till I got older
that that was
a really tough thing
for Dad,
and I--
my heart bled for him.
Steve really thought
my dad left us.
So, during a number of years,
we blocked him out.
And Steve, I know,
blamed him
for the relationship
going bad.
It was literally
the worst period
of my entire life.
I never told my dad
I was mad at him.
We never had
angry words,
but it was
an estrangement
that I created,
not from my dad.
He was seeking
a relationship with me.
I just went off
and got lost in my work,
the way I saw my dad
get lost in his
all those years
of coming home late
and working weekends
back in Phoenix and
all of that.
I became my father.
I became a workaholic.
And I just lost
the contact with him.
It went on for...
15 years.
Tom Snyder:
You know, I read
about you today.
You've done four pictures.
That's all.
Four movies
that I can count.
You're not Alfred Hitchcock
who's done over 50.
You're not John Ford.
Can you believe
that you've directed
four pictures
and you're a famous person?
- Can you believe that?
- Can I believe that?
Yes, I can,
as a matter of fact.
I can believe
that I've directed
four pictures,
although it seems like
I've been directing
much longer.
Tom Hanks:
He arrived on the scene
in such a huge manner.
You know,
the way "Jaws" entered
into the consciousness
of the world was huge.
"Close Encounters"
was 10 times as huge.
But Steven was in the process
of inventing himself.
I don't think
he himself knew
where this road
was gonna take him.
I'm sure,
like everybody else
at that age,
he was wondering
was he really as good
as he thought he was.
And turned out he was.
Once you do "Jaws"
and then "Close Encounters,"
well, where do you go?
The bar, as they say,
is set a certain level.
And what do you do?
You get yourself
into shape
and you jump
over the bar again.
( crickets chirping )
- ( rustling )
- ( heavy breathing )
( screaming )
( screams )
- ( rustling )
- ( both screaming )
my idea for "E.T."
didn't include
an extraterrestrial.
It was gonna be
about how a divorce
affects childhood
and how it really
kind of traumatizes children.
- Dad's shirt.
- Yeah.
( chuckles )
Remember when he used to
take us out to the ball games
and take us
to the movies,
and we'd have
popcorn fights?
So, the overriding theme
was gonna be about
how do you fill the heart
of a lonely child?
Me, human.
- Elliott.
- Spielberg: And what
extraordinary event
would it take
to fill Elliott's heart
after losing his dad?
It would take something
as extraordinary
as an extraterrestrial
coming into his life.
( music playing )
Drew Barrymore:
Steven, as a filmmaker,
can create otherworldly,
almost impossible scenarios,
but do it
in a suburban setting
and with real families
and real people,
and so, you are able to go
outer worldly, outer space,
implausible scenario,
because it's grounded
in human beings
and human stories.
Okay, he's a man
from outer space
and we're taking him
to his spaceship.
- Well, can't he just beam up?
- This is reality, Greg.
"E.T." was a suburban
American story,
and suburbia
was all I knew
growing up.
So, the movies I made
in the '70s, the '80s,
were a reflection
of what I knew.
My main religion
was suburbia.
You know, the families
all getting together,
nobody gets divorced,
nobody's unhappy
with each other.
'Course, it's all false.
Maybe you just
probably imagined it...
- I couldn't have imagined it.
- Maybe it was a pervert or
deformed kid or something.
A deformed kid.
Maybe an elf
or a leprechaun.
It was nothing like that,
penis breath!
( laughs )
Sit down.
- ( clears throat )
- Dad would believe me.
( sighs )
Maybe you ought
to call your father
and tell him about it.
I can't.
He's in Mexico
with Sally.
Where's Mexico?
I saw my childhood
through this family
and those young,
wonderful actors.
Peter Coyote:
When Steven works
with children,
he brings a kind of
"let's play" feeling.
He'd have to pull you back.
Grab on to this, right here.
It's not like somebody
talking baby talk to kids.
It's just he's really
communicating to them.
And it's sort of like
direct transmission.
Now he suddenly turns to you,
his eyes come open.
( screams, panting )
Do that to E.T.
Give that joyful scream
to E.T.
Do the line again,
really excited about
"Are they coming?"
Breathing, breathing,
breathing, breathing,
- Work yourself up.
- Does this mean they're coming?
No, work
yourself up even more.
Work yourself up.
( panting )
Does this mean
they're coming?
Bigger, bigger.
"Does this mean
they're coming?"
Does this mean
they're coming?
- Yes!
- ( screams )
Melissa Mathison:
He had to be a bit
of a father, a bit of a pal,
but he was,
more than anything,
an observer of them,
and I think that was
a lot of fun for him.
- All of the kids
were fun for him.
- You gotta take me seriously.
- This is Halloween, folks.
Hello, my love.
- Hi, Granny.
Wait a sec.
Drew, this is for you,
my darling.
- Your apple.
- Spielberg: I wanted to shoot
"E.T." in continuity.
It gives the kids
a context for the work
they're doing that day,
'cause they know
that tomorrow will be
tomorrow in the script
and yesterday was
yesterday in the script.
So, for young kids,
it gives them
a real confidence
that they're living a life
and they're living
a story's life.
Now they put the machine
on his chest,
and they're gonna give him
a shock to try to make him
come back.
And when they give him
the shock,
it's very loud
and it makes you jump
and cry even more.
They're putting it
on his chest now,
and he presses the button,
and it goes, "Pow!"
- ( crying )
- Are you okay, honey?
Huh? Are you okay?
Let's see.
Wipe your doll's face, too.
Thank you.
Thank you.
- ( crying )
- Okay. Oh.
For many years I wondered
about the universal appeal
of this movie,
and one day,
it hit me.
There are no two humans
on Earth
that are father apart
than those humans
and that alien creature.
And if Elliott,
and the mother,
and the little girl,
and the scientist,
could all love and empathize
and make
a rapprochement
and a rapport
with this creature,
so, too, can any two humans
on Earth,
and I think that was
a subtext that bubbled up
through the film
and must have
touched something,
because you don't
get many films
that are universally
loved and appreciated
40 years later.
And it spoke
to something.
Some desire to be able
to reach across boundaries
and touch other people.
I'll be right here.
Leonardo DiCaprio:
It's a very difficult
balance as a director
to push a young child
to do a dramatic sequence,
because you're obviously
manipulating them
to some capacity.
But Steven knew
how to take them as a director
into some
of these darker places
while handling them
with kid gloves.
( music playing )
A.O. Scott:
The children
in Spielberg's world
may be vulnerable,
may be unhappy,
but they're also very--
they're very powerful
and they're heroic.
( music playing )
I think all of my movies
that have dealt
with young people
and their stories
are about the importance
of empowering these children
to take control
of the story,
at least take control
of their lives.
( yelps )
Kathleen Kennedy:
Steven intuitively
looks at the world
a lens of innocence,
and children
do that naturally.
So, it became
the kind of go-to lens
that he wanted to use
for his storytelling.
George Negus:
One of the most interesting
things that I've read about you
was a headline which said,
"Steven Spielberg is making
movies and a fortune
while he's still growing up.
He's really
just a big kid."
Is that how you see yourself?
Is that a reasonable comment?
I think it's reasonable.
You have to understand--
how do you define a big kid?
A responsible big kid,
or just an irresponsible
big kid?
Because I think
you have to be responsible,
but you don't want
to lose the child in you,
because that's
what keeps you young,
and that's what
keeps you in touch,
and keeps a smile
on your face.
I don't quite know
what it would be like
to become an adult.
- Oh...
- My...
( both screaming )
I was feeling my oats
after both "Jaws"
and "Close Encounters."
And so I thought,
"I can do a comedy."
Why not?
If I did those two movies,
why can't I do anything?
And I have
a sense of humor.
I go to movies and I laugh
when they're funny.
Why not tackle a comedy?
I felt pretty invulnerable
at that time.
I can assure you
there will be
no bombs dropped here.
Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale
wrote the script,
and it was lean and mean.
I'm the one
that stretched the humor
and the budget
to its breaking point.
To me, it was an excuse
to just blow a bunch of shit up
and try to get
an audience to laugh.
But it was like I committed
a war crime by making "1941."
Everyone was
eviscerating it.
I was really devastated.
Just that feeling of failure,
that cold emptiness,
where every reminder
of the movie,
you get that sick feeling
in the center of your stomach,
and you just
want to go dig a hole
and stick your head in it.
I mean, for the next year,
I put my head in a lot of holes.
And my friend George Lucas
came to the rescue.
( music playing )
George said,
"What are you doing next?"
Lucas: And Steven
said that he really wanted
to do a James Bond film.
And George said, "I have
something much better
than James Bond."
It's about an archeologist
and he goes hunting
for supernatural artifacts.
And Steven said,
"I love it.
Let's do it."
He's not a stock,
standard hero.
He's not one of these
"just add water"
and he'll grow into
the hero of your dreams.
There's a human being
under all of that.
That's what made Indiana Jones
accessible to audiences.
- I think
they're trying to kill us.
- I know, Dad!
Well, it's a new
experience for me.
- ( plane engine buzzing )
- Happens to me all the time.
( men yelling )
( music playing )
Lucas: It's an action-adventure
movie where every reel
is a cliffhanger.
Just pure escapist
It was gonna be
an all-out "B" movie,
and "B" movies are fun
because they don't take
themselves that seriously.
You do them quick.
You do them dirty.
You cheat on everything
you possibly can
to save as much money
as you possibly can,
and you don't worry
about the fact
that it's not gonna be
"Lawrence of Arabia."
( crowd cheering )
We took it to the studios,
and what I didn't realize
was that Steven didn't have
that great a reputation,
because he was always going
over budget and over schedule.
So, every studio said no.
And some of them even said,
"You know, if you can get
a different director,
we'll do it, but Steven
can't make that film
for $20 million."
So, Steven said,
"I promise you, I will not
betray you.
If it's $20 million,
we will make it for
$20 million."
My experience
on three cost overruns,
"Close Encounters," "'41,"
taught me how to be
more economical
and benefited
"Raiders" immeasurably.
Lucas: He had something
to prove, but he also didn't
wanna let me down, his friend.
You know, it's like,
it wasn't a studio,
it was us.
Friday night.
If we don't get this,
we don't get the shot.
If we don't get the shot,
we don't get the movie.
If they don't
get the movie,
we're all up the creek.
George said, "Look,
if you direct this,
you have to shake my hand
right now and promise
if it's a big hit,
you gotta direct two more."
And it was
a great collaboration.
- What? What?
- Dad!
- Dad!
- What?
- Head for the fireplace.
- Oh.
Harrison Ford:
The "Indiana Jones" movies
were always more about movies
than they were
about anything else.
They followed
certain film formulas,
which freed them
to do silly stuff.
( music playing )
Tom Stoppard:
There was something
which I simply adored
in "Indiana Jones."
When Harrison
had fallen over a cliff
and his friends
thought he was dead
and they were peering down,
and Harrison had come up
without his hat,
because he'd fallen over
a cliff, for heaven's sake,
and a mysterious breeze
blows the hat into frame.
( chuckles )
These movies are clearly
made for an audience.
They're made
for the filmgoer.
They're meant
for the pure joy
of entertainment.
Which doesn't mean
that they can't be
emotionally involving,
which doesn't mean
they can't be smart
from time to time.
( wind gusting )
But they have to be
satisfying entertainment.
And Steven and George
have figured out
how to use the engine
of filmmaking
to satisfy an audience
in a way
not so many directors
or producers have.
( music playing )
Hugh Downs:
In the century-long history
of motion pictures,
there has been
one director, just one,
whose movies have earned
a total of a billion dollars--
Steven Spielberg.
Walter Parkes:
Steven is arguably
the most commercial director
in the history
of motion pictures,
and I think it's because
he has a deep understanding
of how the language
of cinema
elicits an emotional reaction
in an audience.
And there's no question
that the idea of making movies
that became phenomenons
was extremely exciting
for Steven.
But it brought
a lot of mixed results.
There were people
that hated him,
people that blamed him
for ruining the movies.
William Goldman
had written specifically
that the blockbuster
and Steven
and George Lucas
had destroyed Hollywood.
Some people saw Spielberg
as a repressive force,
that he was bringing in
a kind of empty escapism
that was going to take film
in another direction.
And certainly
with the marketing executives
who moved
into the studios
in the late '70s
and the early '80s,
it was clear
that what they saw
were dollar signs.
But I wouldn't blame
Spielberg for that.
Go back to the first review
by Pauline Kael.
She said he was
a great popular entertainer,
that he had a feel
for what audiences
wanted to see.
Why should anybody
apologize for that?
Let me get you
to react to something
that one of your peers said,
another director.
"Steven Spielberg
can't be compared
with people
like Mike Nichols
and Barry Levinson.
There is a place
for mass entertainment,
but it shouldn't
be confused
with art or quality,
award-winning filmmaking."
Sometimes I think
that statements like that
are pretentious
in themselves,
because it sort of says
that, you know,
art is serious
and art can't be--
can't move you.
Art can't be
on a bicycle with E.T.
and fly across the moon,
that that can't be art.
If you're making
the kinds of movies
that make the kinds of money
that his movies do,
and if you're making
franchise entertainment
or just something that
appeals to a lot of people
and is unapologetically
mainstream entertainment,
then there's a little bit
of, I think, suspicion.
You know, how can
we take you seriously
as an artist?
Come on, girl,
'cause I'm waiting for you.
( chuckles )
You cut me
and I'll kill you.
I was looking for a different
perception of myself.
And if I didn't want
to consciously
make a departure
and prove something,
not just to myself
but to everyone else,
I might not have chosen
"Color Purple" as my next movie.
But it was my first
really mature film,
which took on, you know,
substantive, humanistic
subject matter.
I was turning 40
and I was looking at life
perhaps less optimistically.
And so, I knew
this was gonna be
a very sobering journey,
and I was willing
to take it on.
All my life
I had to fight.
I had to fight my daddy,
I had to fight my uncles,
I had to fight
my brothers.
A girl child ain't safe
in a family of mens,
but I ain't never thought
I had to fight in my own house!
I loves Harpo.
God knows I do,
but I'll kill him dead
before I let him beat me.
Oprah Winfrey:
For Steven to even
take on this material
was a really big deal,
because you're messing
in some territory
where if you get it wrong,
then you get a lot
of people upset.
He wanted to create not only
an African-American worldview,
but a matriarchal world
in the presence
of patriarchal repression
and violence.
And I truly believe
that he wanted
to stretch himself in a way
that he never had before.
And he does push himself,
but he's not gonna push
himself too far in advance--
the audience
or maybe his own,
you know,
core inclination.
He don't ever ask me
how I feel.
Just never asked me
nothing about myself.
Just climb on top of me,
do his business.
"Do his business"?
Do his bu--
why, Miss Celie,
you sound like
he going to the toilet
on you.
That's what it feel like.
I got in trouble
with several critics
who didn't like
that I shied away
from the love story
between Shug and Celie.
And the scene
where Shug Avery shows Celie,
with a mirror, her vagina,
that that did not
go into the movie,
which would've
really changed
the entire nature and tone
of the film.
I just didn't go
for the full monty
the way the book did.
I might've done that
had I made the movie
10 years later.
I was just timid.
I was just a little embarrassed.
I just wasn't
the right guy to do that.
Steven was telling
the story that Alice wrote,
and he was trying
to access that
from his personal
point of view.
He could never go
where Alice went
with that book.
( music playing )
That book was appreciated
for its grit and its realism,
and neither of those
were qualities that
he was known for.
He was just asking for it
by even going anywhere
near that.
Nobody really wanted
Steven Spielberg
to be a gritty filmmaker.
That wasn't
his sensibility.
But with
"The Color Purple,"
colors are exact,
the settings have been built
from the ground up
to his specifications.
There's something so false
and so Disney storyboard-like
about that movie.
You know, he wanted
to make a prettier picture
than was intended
in the text.
That's Steven.
He wants to make
everything like that.
He wants to make
life like that.
I have a baby
on the way,
and the child is going
to change my life.
- It already has, in a way.
- Shalit: Are you nervous
about it or what?
I'm not nervous
about it at all, no.
I just think
it's the best thing
that's ever happened
to me and to Amy.
We really can't wait
for this.
I think the destiny
of Amy and I
was to bring Max
into the world,
which was such
a beautiful thing.
Before that,
I'm not sure I knew
what a personal life was.
I thought life began
with, you know,
And then, "Cut!"
After my mom and dad
broke up,
I always thought
that I would do my best
that if I ever decided
someday to get married,
I wouldn't get divorced.
And then,
of course, I did.
( music playing )
Divorce in any situation
is painful.
And it's especially
painful for me
because I am a child
of divorce
and I know
what it felt like.
And so, you know,
I felt terrible for Max,
that he had
to endure that.
- ( music playing )
- ( people shouting )
- Jamie: My plane.
- Jamie! Jamie!
- Mom?
- Frank Marshall:
"Empire of the Sun"
was about this young boy
growing up in Shanghai
who gets separated
from his parents
the Japanese invasion.
- Jamie!
- Mommy!
And he goes through
a tremendous transformation
and growing-up process.
It was playing on
what I knew were my strengths,
being able
to take the dark,
grim reality of war
and put it
with a child's approach
in the way
this particular special child
saw that war.
( crowd clamoring )
It was based
on the experiences
that J.G. Ballard had
in a Japanese
internment camp.
Jim was a lost boy
trying to figure out
where he belongs
in this world.
It's a movie about
growing up too quickly
and abandoning everything
that you once used
to keep yourself safe.
When you have nothing
to keep yourself safe,
you become a survivor
like all the rest,
and you grow up
awfully quickly.
Christian Bale:
It's an extraordinary story
of the resilience
of children,
this incredible survivor
who manages to have
more fortitude to him
than, really,
any of the adults
around him.
It's in the great tradition
of epic filmmaking.
That sports stadium
at the end when all the goods,
all the stuff
that had been stolen
is there,
the surrealism of that
and what it makes you feel
at that time and place,
the sense of what
the world was like,
how it had fallen apart,
all of civilization.
( music playing )
And then, something even
more disturbingly beautiful,
and that is the glow
from the atom bomb.
It's like
a soul transcending
into another life.
Mrs. Victor.
This is very poetic
and... mystical.
- ( man speaks Japanese )
- ( boy singing in Welsh )
This was war
and it was death
and real horror.
And it was like
an end of innocence
for the Spielberg child.
( children's choir
singing in Welsh )
I think it was
a truly great film,
but, for me,
it ultimately shaded
into an unnecessary softness
or sentimentality.
I don't know
where it comes from,
but he likes
and enjoys sentiment.
It's part of him.
At the time, he was not
dismissed, exactly,
by a lot of critics,
but sort of looked at
a little skeptically.
"Oh, he wants
to be serious now.
Oh, he's trying to make
serious movies.
Oh, now he wants it"--
which, I mean--
it's such
a kind of nasty thing
to say about any artist.
It definitely hurt
his feelings.
I don't think anybody
as an artist
wants to feel like
they're being pigeonholed
in a way that other people
are determining who they are.
And when Steven
began to explore
other kinds
of more serious stories,
they were very reluctant
to let him do that.
That was like,
"How dare you,
Steven Spielberg?
We've determined that you make
these kind of movies,
so why are you suddenly
trying to make this?"
He doesn't
but maybe as a filmmaker,
Steven was using those movies
as stepping stones
along the way.
He didn't know
where he was headed,
but I think he was exercising
those muscles, in a way,
to recognize
he could go there,
that it was okay.
( man singing
in Hebrew )
My very first memory--
I was in a stroller.
I just remember
being wheeled somewhere,
and my grandmother
and grandfather were with me.
( singing continues )
We went into
this underground space.
There was a red light
over a set of doors.
And I just remember
getting closer and closer
to this red light
where all these old men--
just men were all
chanting something.
And the red light
was the Eternal Light,
the Ner Tamid,
and that's
my very first memory.
- Lacy: Do you believe
in God?
- Yes.
Tell me about that.
Where where does...?
It comes from my--
you know, my spiritual--
not even spiritual,
my religious roots
and family.
All my grandparents had
a very strong influence
over me.
My grandfather, Fievel,
played guitar
and he sang
all Yiddish Russian songs.
And my grandmother,
taught English to Hungarian
Holocaust survivors.
We were Orthodox.
I was raised Orthodox.
And tradition has been
a huge part of my family,
and religious studies,
and Hebrew school,
and bar mitzvahs,
and bat mitzvahs
for my sisters.
But we always
lived in neighborhoods
where there were no Jews.
And there was
a real cultural divide
in those days
between Jewish people
and Gentiles,
a real cultural divide.
I remember
that at one point,
kids were standing outside
and chanting
"the Spielbergs
are dirty Jews."
I certainly experienced
being excluded
and being picked on
and discriminated against.
All I wanted to do
was fit in.
And by being Jewish,
there was no way I could
fit into anything.
My grandfather
would come over
to spend a week with us,
and I'd be playing
in the front yard
seven houses down,
and my grandfather
would stand on our front porch
and yell my Hebrew name,
As loud
as he could, "Shmuel!"
And all my friends would say,
"Is he talking to you?
That's your house."
And I immediately denied
that that was me.
"No, he must be calling
somebody else."
"Is your name Shmuel?"
And all my friends
started laughing.
What's Shmuel?"
And meanwhile,
in the background,
you can hear
my grandfather yelling
with a Russian accent,
Steve did not
want to be Jewish.
He didn't want to be Jewish
because it made us
too different
from everybody.
And the "Father Knows Best"
is an assimilated family.
And I think
he really yearned for that.
I began to deny
my Jewishness,
you know, began to deny
everything that I had
accepted as a child
and was not
willing to accept
if it was going
to make me a pariah.
I was ashamed of myself.
I still feel ashamed
of myself
even remembering
that long stretch of my life
where I didn't want
to be Jewish anymore.
When I first met Kate,
something that only happens
in the movies
happened to me.
It's a terrible clich,
but bells began ringing.
It was love at first sight.
It really was.
There was something
that was
so both self-assured
about Katie
and reassuring for me.
There was
a kind of in-syncness.
We could talk
about anything,
and I couldn't get her
off my mind.
( choir singing
in Hebrew )
Kate came into my world,
in my life,
with a deep fascination
with the traditions
and the depth
of the history of Judaism.
And she really wanted
to marry me as a Jew.
So, she converted to Judaism
just before we got married.
Sue: She said
she always felt like
she was coming home.
She always felt this was
where she was meant to be.
And so, as she studied Judaism
and got into it,
it brought Steve back around
to appreciating it.
Kate brought
something to Steven
that I don't
think Steven believed
he could ever have.
She is so dedicated
to the idea of family
in its, you know,
purest essence
that not only
did it bring him,
I think, a happiness
he never thought he'd have,
but I suspect
it contributed
to his growth
as an artist.
( train whistle blaring )
In 1982, Sid Sheinberg
gave me the book
of "Schindler's List"
to read.
He felt it was my destiny
to make this movie.
He was tenacious
about getting me
to pay attention to it,
not to give up on it.
I think
he was intimidated
by the thought
of making it.
He had the book
for over 10 years
before he was ready
to do it.
And he just said,
"I'll know when it's time."
You know, if anybody
pushed him on it,
"I'll know
when it's time."
- ( people clamoring )
- ( dog barking )
And then the time came.
Liam Neeson:
On my first day, we were
outside the gates of Auschwitz.
5:30 in the morning,
bitterly, bitterly cold.
And hundreds of extras
dressed up in those
horrible striped pajamas
and German guards
and real Alsatian dogs,
real nasty dogs.
- ( dogs barking )
- ( all screaming )
No! No!
Nothing could prepare me for
my first visit to Auschwitz.
Nothing prepared me
for that.
I wanted to shoot
where the story actually
took place,
all the actual locations,
but I realized at that point
when I went to Poland
for the first time
that I was playing with fire.
That's horrible.
He was like someone
whose skin had been torn off.
He was just
so vulnerable,
pacing up and down
all the time.
I could tell
how important
this subject matter
and this film was to him.
- ( music playing )
- ( chatter )
He was telling a story
of his family, his tribe,
so I was aware of the weight
of the subject matter.
I said to the crew,
"This isn't a documentary,
but we are documenting things
that actually took place
in the place that
you're standing right now."
And I said also, you know,
"Those of us who are Jewish,
you know, would never have
been able to stand here,
you know, in 1943."
I knew this couldn't be
just another movie
and it couldn't be
anything like anything
I had ever directed before.
I had to approach
the material
and I had to approach
the location
with a great deal
of reverence,
and I had to make this
a very quiet, quiet production.
We were shooting
on hallowed, sacred ground.
Everywhere we shot
in Krakw
felt like we were shooting
in a cemetery.
And it changed
my entire approach
to cinema.
I-- that film
looks different
than anything I had ever
done before that.
I tried to do it
with no fancy tricks,
no fancy lenses,
no big Hollywood
sweeping cranes.
I tried to take
all the tools
with which I made
so many of my films
and just chuck them
out the window.
I never handheld anything,
but I wanted to handhold
as much of "Schindler's List"
as I possibly could.
I just wanted to create
for all of us
the feeling that we were
absolutely there
at the time.
Goodbye Jews!
Goodbye Jews!
Goodbye Jews!
- I'm just wondering
is the synagogue...
- ( coughing )
...a good background,
or is the park
a good background,
because this is
kind of interesting here.
Ralph Fiennes:
Steven said, "I feel like
I'm directing my first movie.
I'm not storyboarding
And I think that gave him
an adrenaline
or something
that we all felt.
A fire, an alertness.
I've never felt the same level
of energy and focus.
He seems
to breathe cinema.
I wouldn't say
he's an intellectual director.
I think he feels things
intuitively and emotionally.
...and coverage up
like that.
He was kind of like
an abstract painter
who has his canvass
and has a palette
of extraordinary colors
but just doesn't know
what color
to put
on that screen first.
But once he's committed
to that color,
he was just firing
on all cylinders.
And there was
literally times
he was running,
physically running,
with that camera
because a lot of the stuff,
he shot himself.
Handheld camera.
He'd be running
up and down,
saying, "Come on,
come with me, quick,"
as the idea
was forming in his head.
And we'd all be running
after him, "What? What?"
He'd be inspired.
He saw something.
- ( whistle trilling )
- ( people shouting )
( speaking German )
Sir Ben Kingsley:
We were all struggling
with the incomprehensible
as characters
and as actors.
But we put one foot
in front of the other
in our mandate
to, as Elie Wiesel says,
tell stories.
- ( woman screams )
- ( all yelling )
We took on the mantle
of actor-warriors,
if you like.
Because if you soften
anything with sentiment,
you lessen the blow that
the audience have got to feel
and got to reel under.
( shouting in German )
( soldiers shouting
in German )
- ( whistle trills )
- ( speaking German )
In the liquidation
of the ghetto scene,
I knew I had
to serve the story.
I remembered my lines,
but I was in deep shock.
- No acting.
- ( shouting )
- ( gunshot )
- ( woman wailing )
( whistle trilling )
The beautifully
orchestrated chaos
was unrepeatable
or unforgettable.
- ( music playing )
- ( chatter )
Oskar Schindler
was a gregarious man.
He was
a second-rate businessman.
Bit of a shady character,
you know?
A man about town,
loved the women,
loved his booze.
A bon vivant,
that's what he was.
And he did
this extraordinary thing.
He saved
over 1,100 Jewish lives.
There was something
indescribably mysterious
about this character.
It was impossible
to really understand
why he did what he did.
But we decided
just to let the audience
work that out
for themselves.
I was a smoker at the time.
Steve was not a smoker,
but in the close-ups,
he would start
to tell me how to smoke.
He'd say, "Okay,
you're looking at the table.
You see three of these
high-ranking Nazi guys.
Take a drag
of your cigarette."
( smacks lips, blows )
"No, no. Do it again.
Keep your fingers there.
Take a drag.
Let the smoke
curl up your face.
Do it again.
Okay, now take your hand away
very, very slowly."
So, he was basically
telling me how to breathe.
I remember sharing it
with Ben Kingsley
later on that night
or the next day.
I said, "Ben, I just--
if every scene's gonna
be like that,
I'm a fucking puppet,
you know?
I don't want
to be a puppet.
I'm 41 years of age."
And I remember
Ben so well.
He said,
"A great conductor...
needs a good soloist.
So just trust that.
Just go
into his direction.
Don't fight against it.
Just go into it."
And that's what I did.
I just opened myself
for Steven, you know?
My father
was fond of saying,
"You need three things
in life--
a good doctor,
a forgiving priest,
and a clever accountant."
The first two...
( chuckles )
I've never had
much use for.
But the third?
Itzhak Stern
was the character
that I was closest to
in my understanding of him.
Just pretend,
for Christ's sake.
And I said to Ben,
"You're the conscience
of Oskar Schindler.
You're also my window
into my insight
into Oskar Schindler."
I'm trying to thank you.
I'm saying I couldn't
have done this without you.
Anything I can glean
from Schindler himself,
I think a lot of it is gonna
come from how you look at him.
You're welcome.
There are very,
very few directors
who respect stillness
as much as Steven.
He's gonna catch
every single gesture
you offer to the camera,
and he's going to use it.
His intuition for
something real and present
is very, very strong.
He wanted to avoid clichs
about Nazis,
and, in terms of performance,
I understood it on
my first day.
You know, the thing
about Amon having a cough--
"Ahem, excuse me,"
and giving him
sort of banal human failings,
touches like that.
Do you have
any questions, sir?
Yeah, why is the top down?
I'm fucking freezing.
There were ways in which,
through performance
and filming,
you can amp up
and signal "bad guy."
And I think he wanted,
quite rightly,
to say,
"No, man doing job.
- You decide
what you think."
- I have an idea.
How about just
lighting their mouths,
nothing else?
I was just going--
you know--
no, him, I want to light
just from the top, you know,
so we get
some shadows here,
just like...
Okay, I just want
to make sure we're
not being too on the nose
with the--
you know, the badness
of the character
by having
a straight-down light.
Spielberg: Everything we do
in this medium is about
light and shadow,
how the cinematographer
lights the actors,
lights the set.
If you look
at "Schindler's List,"
Amon Goeth was always
lit beautifully.
He always had
that beautiful front light.
You know, the guy
was very clear.
There was no mystery
in him.
You don't have
to enhance his evilness,
if you may say,
by lighting.
Now, if you look
at Oskar Schindler,
that was
a confused individual.
He came to Poland
to make money,
so it's always glamorous,
but always shadowy.
And then
as the movie's progressing,
he gets more frontal light.
The shadows disappear.
They say you are good.
Because he's learning
who he is.
( man speaking German
over PA )
- ( distant shouting )
- ( gunshot )
( children's choir
singing in Yiddish )
The little girl in red
actually happened.
Schindler on horseback
watching these people
being rounded up.
( gunfire )
He did spot this little girl
in a red coat.
Of all the carnage
that's happening,
he can't take his eyes
off this little girl
down the street.
He couldn't take
his eyes off of her
and wonder why
is she not being taken
along with
everybody else.
And, of course,
the answer was,
"Well, she will be taken.
May not be
in the next few minutes,
but she's not
going to survive."
( man shouts in German )
During the liquidation
of the ghetto,
when they were taking people
and putting them in trucks
and shooting old people
in the streets,
they were
leaving her alone.
the most obvious target
was not being
And, to me, it was less about
what turned Oskar Schindler,
and it was more that the world
turned a blind eye
on the Holocaust
and the industrialized process
of wholesale murder.
Can you believe this?
As if I don't
have enough to do,
they come up with this?
I have to find every rag
buried up here and burn it.
( sighs )
The party's over, Oskar.
They're closing us down,
sending everybody
to Auschwitz.
- When?
- I don't know.
As soon as I can arrange
the shipments.
Maybe 30, 40 days.
That ought to be fun.
( man shouting
in German )
So, that little girl in red,
for me, symbolizes
the Holocaust
and all
of its monstrous evil,
and no one
did anything about it
when they could have.
Michael Kahn: I remember
I put together a scene,
very hard, emotionally.
And Steven comes in
that night.
We went out to where
he was staying
and I start running
the scene.
And he looks at it.
"Hold on, Mike.
I can't do it."
He's like-- he went like,
"I can't do it.
It's too tough."
And he left.
I just remember getting home
and just falling apart.
And Kate was on the set
with me a lot.
We would cry together
many, many times.
She really kept me going
through that whole production.
We were
four months in Krakw.
A long time.
It was, emotionally,
the hardest movie
I've ever made.
( music playing )
Annette Insdorf:
The film is not about
the Holocaust
with a capital "H."
It is a particular window
into the past.
And here,
a mainstream director
had crafted
a motion picture
that would in fact
finally reach a large audience,
including people
that simply may never
have known
the word "Auschwitz."
( chorus singing
in Hebrew )
About three quarters
of the way through the shoot,
Steven had this idea
about the end of the film.
He wanted to fly us
to Jerusalem.
We would shoot a scene
at Schindler's grave.
I needed there to be
some testimony
built into the movie
that says this story
actually happened.
Brave thing to do.
These are
the real people.
( music playing )
That was a pivotal moment
in Steven's life.
He recognized
he couldn't take
any of the profits
from the film.
He wanted to give
something back,
so he started what became
the Shoah Foundation,
documenting that oral history
and capturing history
in a way that allowed people
not to forget.
The Shoah Foundation
is a way of trying to hear
the faintest echo
of the stories that we've lost.
So, it's connected to him
as a storyteller,
which is in his DNA.
Man: They started
running toward the tracks
and they were shot.
- ( overlapping voices )
- Woman: It was probably
the last patrol of the day.
They were not supposed
to be there anymore.
And of course
they asked for papers,
- but my grandfather
didn't have any.
- ( overlapping voices )
And they took them.
They took them.
( overlapping voices
in various languages )
He's got thousands
and thousands of testimonies,
and not just
about the Holocaust.
About Rwanda,
about Bosnia, you know?
And it's amazing, this legacy
that "Schindler's List"
has spawned
through Steven.
( music playing )
The experience of making
"Schindler's List"
made me reconcile
with all of the reasons,
the vain, glorious reasons,
I hid from my Jewishness.
And it made me so proud
to be a Jew.
- ( trees rustling )
- ( bird squawks )
( dinosaur growling )
There are periods of time
in moviemaking history
where you have
a collision of events
that innovates and creates
something new.
And "Jurassic Park"
was one of those moments.
- Man: Keep it there.
- Spielberg: It was
the beginning
of, really,
the digital era
where the central characters
were digitally created.
No one had ever
gone there before that way.
- Man #2: Come on!
- ( all chattering )
Steven said to me,
"I want 28-foot to 30-foot
dinosaurs on the set
that the actors
can interact with,
and I want them
to be able to run."
There were going to be
at least 60 wide shots
with 60 head-to-toe
that could not
operate mechanically.
They had to run.
They had to perform.
They had to twist and turn.
They had to be real.
So, I went off to start
to talk to experts
in the area of prosthetics
and theme parks
to figure out
how we're gonna do this.
And, of course,
everybody said to me,
"We can build these things,
but they can't run."
So, I went back to Steven
and I said, "They can't run."
He said, "Well,
they have to run."
- Okay, pushing team,
move in there.
- Man: Move in.
So, all this development
was going on,
and simultaneous to that,
Dennis Muren called me
and he said,
"I'm working on something
with the computer
that I think could be
( dinosaur roaring )
( grunts )
( groaning )
( alarm blaring )
- Aah!
- ( dinosaur roars )
Lock the opening!
And we flew up to ILM,
and we went
in this little office,
and there was a computer,
and Dennis said, "Watch this."
And he hit a button,
and there was
a dinosaur running.
This is all in the computer.
There's no models,
no cameras, or anything.
When we looked at them,
it was like nothing
you had ever seen before.
And it was one
of those primal moments
- where you suddenly
realize, oh, my God...
- Oh, my God.
Oh, my God,
we're there.
This is the future.
I could not
believe my eyes.
Couldn't believe it.
They were alive.
They were real.
And it was so exciting,
we all leapt to our feet
because we had never seen
anything like it.
I'm not exaggerating
when I say
looking at that test
was like the moment
when sound came to movies.
There was this new tool
that was going to be huge,
and you could just tell.
( music playing )
( roaring )
Laura Dern:
It was that much
of an experiment.
It felt that wild.
And watching, you know,
their brains at work
as we were shooting,
and how'd they adjust a shot,
and how giddy
Steven would get,
you get caught up
in the dreams he was building
and the magic.
Jeff Goldblum: During
the scenes where we're
first seeing the dinosaur,
he puts the camera on me
and says, "Okay, Jeff,
now you're looking
at the thing.
Okay, so look at it.
Yeah, keep going.
Keep rolling.
Is it real?
Is it a trick?
And now,
for no reason at all,
you start to laugh.
Keep laughing
a little bit.
Laugh a little bit more.
That's it.
Now you're stunned
by it again
and you just get
very still.
Okay, that's it.
Okay, I got what I need.
Let's go.
Let's move on."
Like that.
He knows exactly
what he needs.
Weapon, you know,
guy face-- all faces,
weapons, faces,
and then right to Bob.
- Get in there!
- Spielberg: "Jurassic Park"
is a cautionary tale.
We stand on the shoulders
of giants
to create
the next great thing,
and yet we take
no responsibility
for our own creations.
But it's an old, timeworn
science fiction story.
It's what brought Godzilla
up from the depths.
You mess
with atomic energy,
you get Godzilla.
Rick Carter:
There's a lot of dark themes
in "Jurassic Park"
that are about, you know,
unleashing Pandora's box.
As it turns out, it's not
only genetic engineering,
which is a theme
in the movie,
it's actually
the digital revolution
coming out right
from behind the fence.
- ( growling )
- ( thunder crashing )
( roaring )
Muren: This opened up
a whole new world
in storytelling
because you can do
anything you want.
You're not limited
by plastics or metal
or gravity
or anything.
If you can imagine it,
you can do it.
It was the end of an era,
no question about it.
And it was the beginning
of a whole nother era.
- ( music playing )
- ( chittering )
Muren: Steven is a master
of putting the effects shots in
for a purpose.
They're there
to advance the story
and to make it
a different journey
than anybody's
seen before.
And it could be
a spaceship,
it could be a dinosaur,
it could be an alien landing,
it could be,
you know, a red coat
that somebody's wearing
when they're running through
a black-and-white movie.
- Put the camera down.
- Parkes: It's part
of the emotional landscape
of the story he's telling.
I've never seen
a single moment
in a Spielberg movie
in which you feel
that the technology
is crushing the story.
And that's really hard.
I mean, these moments,
which have to feel
spontaneous and real
There are
200 people around,
and half of it is being
created six months later
and half of it
was six months before.
When he made
"Jurassic Park,"
there was no guarantee
that it would work.
That could easily
have been a disaster.
But it was the right ratio
of excitement and fear
for Steven.
Doing a movie
has to scare you
a little bit.
you're not pushing it.
"Schindler's List,"
which seems--
clearly, that should have
been a movie now--
was a three-hour
black-and-white movie
about the Holocaust.
In the halls of Universal,
that was-- that was crazy.
That was not--
who green lights
that movie, you know?
It was as big a risk
as CG dinosaurs.
You're saying
"All my credibility
as a fantasy filmmaker--
I'm gonna risk all that
on CG dinosaurs.
And all my credibility
as an artist,
I'm gonna put
on the line, too.
And I'm gonna do it all
over the course of 12 months.
Fingers crossed."
They seem obvious now.
They were by no means
And that must have been
a really terrifying period,
because you really are
pushing all your chips
into the middle of the table
at that point.
Of course, it turned out
very well for Steven,
giving him
one of the strangest
and most astoundingly
successful years of any
film director, ever.
The Brain:
This is my greatest
technological masterpiece--
the Schpiel-Borg 2000.
I spared no expense.
Your play pal, Pinky,
is actually
an extremely advanced
cybernetic clone
of one of Hollywood's
most powerful figures.
And if his box office numbers
are any indication,
he has the potential
to become ruler of the world.
Steven is the best-known
director in the world, easily.
( thumps )
- Listen.
- What?
( thunder crashes )
( both screaming )
Steven, you've made
so many films.
When are you
gonna do the big one?
( laughing ) Wow.
What do you mean "big one?"
Something that clicks
with the public.
"Something that clicks
with the public."
( reporters clamoring )
The guy's
an unmistakable force
in the business
of making movies.
Running a company,
being an executive producer,
being a producer,
and being a director.
Robert Zemeckis:
For a filmmaker, you can't
have a better producer
than one of the greatest
directors in the world.
He really nurtures
young talent coming up.
It's a pretty amazing
He's also a major figure
in the television business.
He started a restaurant.
Submarine sandwiches.
The man was, like, doing
27 things at once
and being perfectly
unselfconscious about it.
How many hats
does that man wear?
It's impossible.
He once told me,
"When I'm at a buffet,
I like to have
too much food
on my plate."
( music playing )
Holly Hunter:
He will be in production
on a movie,
doing preproduction
for another movie,
and editing yet a third.
He's got a lot
of different channels.
You know, me,
I have a list.
You know,
"change light bulbs,"
and that's on there
for a week.
No, he gets
a lot accomplished.
Tom Brokaw:
Three of Hollywood's richest,
most powerful boy wonders
teamed up today to create
a movie studio,
Hollywood's first
major new independent studio
in almost half a century.
I don't think Steven
really fears anything.
He's always ready to go
and do something new.
Jeffrey Katzenberg:
No one can consume
be in so many places
so effortlessly.
It used to make me crazy
if a screenplay came in,
that, you know,
we were all waiting for,
no matter what,
I could never get home
and get it read
before him.
Dustin Hoffman:
To be that talented,
to be that successful
almost in a mythological way,
your jaw drops.
Many times
you see the person
incorporating their success
into their personality.
There's a sense
of self-importance.
And it's the opposite
with Steven.
Steven's like a guy who works
for Steven Spielberg.
- ( water splashing )
- ( children laughing )
- ( Spielberg vocalizing
"Jaws" theme )
- Girl: Shark!
A day of pure bliss,
for me,
is a day where
I'm with my family.
I've got my eyes closed,
they're swimming in the pool,
- and I just
listen to their voices.
- Spielberg: One more time.
That's great, Theo.
That was the best one.
I never knew I was going
to have a big family.
That took me
completely by surprise.
Kate never thought she'd have
a big family either.
So, the natural evolution
in our life was a gift.
- ( girl yelps )
- Spielberg: Jessica
is my oldest,
and then Max,
and then Theo after that,
and then Sasha,
and then Sawyer,
and then Mikaela,
and then Destry.
- Woman: Whoo-hoo!
- ( squeals )
Kate is a force
in my life.
There's such an honesty
about her
and an awareness
of the world.
And I think
the authenticity
of the kinds of movies
I began to make
after Katie and I
got together
had to do with bringing
a kind of truth into my life
where truth began
to upstage make-believe.
Okay, turn the camera on.
- Roll.
- Man: Okay, do it.
You know, I've turned down
a lot of very successful
movie franchises
that 10 years before I would've
jumped at the chance to direct.
But it wasn't
the kind of legacy
I want to leave behind
for my kids.
Steven wanted
"Saving Private Ryan"
to be a different
kind of very tactile
and personal war movie.
We had no idea
that Omaha Beach
was gonna be what it was like
when we started.
He did not describe
anything to us.
He was playing
with our sense of confusion
and panic and fear,
capturing the moment
of our own shock,
or our surprise,
or our own blankness.
And the difference
between standing around
before we're shooting
and saying,
"Hey, ready to do this?
Nice to meet you. Here we go.
Can you swim?
You can't swim?
You better, because you're
in a Steven Spielberg movie.
You better..."
So, we're talking like that.
And then it opened up
and all the powers
of physical moviemaking
went berserk.
- ( loud whirring )
- ( men shouting )
( rapid gunfire )
( explosion )
( rapid gunfire )
Over the side!
( gunfire continues )
- ( bullets whizzing )
- Over the side, boys!
( bullets whizzing )
I tried very, very hard
to put the audience
as close to the experience
as I possibly knew how to do
so there wouldn't ever be
a safe feeling
in the audience.
And when you narrow
that distance--
if you're successful
in narrowing the distance,
then the audience
really becomes those characters.
( rapid gunfire )
( rapid gunfire )
( rapid gunfire )
Come on.
In "Saving Private Ryan,"
Spielberg understood
the expressionistic
possibilities of sound.
- ( bullets whizzing )
- ( men shouting )
You could hear the bullets
streaking along.
You can hear them
penetrate the flesh
and ravage these bodies.
You felt what it was like
to have your ears ringing
in the midst of this
and be completely disoriented.
( explosion )
( sound fades )
The sheer intensity
of that scene,
the visceral element,
not just metaphorically,
but literally,
is like nothing-- nothing
that had been put
on film before.
( rapid gunfire )
I decided to shoot the entire
Omaha Beach sequence
in complete continuity,
not knowing
what was gonna come next.
And all my cameramen
were given instruction
to be spontaneous
in what they decided to shoot,
just like a documentary
cameraman would.
And for, like, 27 days,
we literally took the beach
as filmmakers,
one yard at a time.
- ( gunfire )
- ( men shouting )
Mama! Mama!
"Saving Private Ryan"
certain visceral truths
about war
that people were not
gonna learn from books.
They were not gonna learn
from documentaries.
That was him
at the height of his powers
doing something
that nobody else could do.
- ( gunfire )
- Hanks: The first time
we talked about the movie,
he said, "I can't wait
to shoot that machine gun nest
at the radar installation."
He had already mapped
this thing out in his mind,
and when we got
to the location,
there was one problem--
the sun wasn't
in the right place.
Steven had thought
the set was built this way,
but it was built
this way.
So, he could not shoot it,
because the sun
was not going to give him
the light that he wanted.
And he was mad,
perhaps with himself
or perhaps with someone
who didn't tell him
what the compass points were.
So, he went on a walk,
and when he comes back,
he says, "Okay, I know
how I'm gonna shoot it."
- ( panting )
- ( rapid gunfire )
And it's a different
from any other assault
that we had shot in the film.
( explosion )
And if you're not Steven,
if you don't have
this lifetime
of cinematic language
in your head,
that's a different
kind of day.
But because his eye
is so connected to his brain
and every movie
that he's ever seen
and every movie
that he's ever made,
he just went out
and said,
"Here's how we're gonna
do this, and that's it."
( music playing )
"Saving Private Ryan"
was in honor of the veterans,
and I think a bit of a homage
to my father
who flew missions
during WWII.
He wasn't in Europe.
He was in India and Burma.
When I was a kid,
my dad was telling
WWII stories all the time.
His veteran friends
would come over to the house
and I'd listen to them
tell war stories.
that greatest generation,
became something that I wished
I could be part of.
Lucas: Steven had
a complicated relationship
with his father,
but he was starting
to reconnect and realize
that his first impressions
of a lot of the things he had
weren't necessarily true.
It was complex for me
for a long time,
but at least
I had a art form
that I could
filter it through.
At least I had that.
If movies did
anything for me, it--
I've avoided therapy
because movies are my therapy.
- Yes, sir.
- Spielberg: And this
father-son obsession
I've had in my movies
obviously speaks
to a great deal of feelings
that I've been carrying with me
that I want
to unburden myself of,
and I have.
Do you remember
the last time we had
a quiet drink?
I had a milkshake.
Hmm? What did
we talk about?
- ( music playing )
- ( chatter )
We didn't talk.
We never talked.
The absent father
has haunted Steven
throughout his life,
and he has fictionalized it
in all kinds of ways on film.
It's the heart of him.
Although I liked
the movies,
I noticed the absence
of the father
quite significantly.
For a long time,
Steven was very mad at me.
There he is.
( music blaring
over headphones )
- Get a hug?
- Arnold: I was hurt by it,
but quietly hurt.
Confusing handshake?
Kick in the teeth?
I didn't broach it
with Steven.
I just ate it up
a little bit
and hurt a little bit.
- ( gasps )
- I thought I had
lost you, boy.
( sighs )
I thought
you had too, sir.
My dad and I finally
resolved our differences,
and we're probably closer now
than we ever were before.
When he made
"Saving Private Ryan,"
he said,
"I made this for my dad."
And that was wonderful.
That made me feel warm
right here.
( horn beeping )
Lawrence Kasdan:
Steven has always had
a big vision
of what movies can be.
He's an American moviemaker.
And it's not
starry-eyed patriotism.
He is drawn
to all the themes
that are inherent
in the American character
and the American society
and how it developed.
There are people struggling
in one way or another
for freedom in these movies.
Give... us free.
He doesn't take freedom
for granted.
Liberty and equality,
the Constitution,
and the rights
of the individual.
( cheering )
He's evolved
as a filmmaker.
"Amistad" and "Lincoln"
and "Bridge of Spies"
are all about
the rule of law.
They're all about
the rights of even people
who are either brought here
against their will
or come here to be a soldier
in an opposing army
and are caught.
The law fully covers
We were supposed to show
he had a capable defense,
which we did.
Why are you citing
the goddamn Constitution
at me?
Tom, if you look me
in the eye
and tell me
we don't have grounds
for an appeal,
I'll drop it right now.
I'm not saying that.
You know what I'm saying.
Tom is saying
there's a cost
to these things.
That's right.
A cost to both
your family and your firm.
I really believe
in this country,
and I always have.
And it just resonated
throughout my work--
wanting to tell
American stories,
wanting to tell stories
about principled,
ethical people
who, against all advice
and against
most everyone else's
better judgment,
just proceed to do
the right thing.
I'm sure that sounds like
I'm this kind of, you know,
idealist or some sort
of a patriot,
but I am a patriot.
And I'm somewhat
of an idealist, too.
Say all we done
is show the world
that democracy
isn't chaos.
That there is a great
invisible strength
in a people's union.
Say we've shown
that a people can endure
awful sacrifice
and yet cohere.
Mightn't that save
at least the idea
of democracy,
to aspire to?
Eventually to become
worthy of?
Daniel Day-Lewis:
The first thing that
you have to overcome
is the reluctance
to even approach Lincoln
because he's such
a mighty figure.
His experience as a president
was in, you know,
one of the greatest crises
that this country's ever known.
And so, undoubtedly,
of course,
he made decisions that were
extremely unpalatable
to many, many people.
We are
absolutely guaranteed
to lose the whole thing.
We don't need a goddamned
abolition amendment.
Leave the Constitution
...peace commissioners
appear today, or--
( overlapping voices )
( argument stops )
I can't listen
to this anymore.
I can't accomplish
a goddamn thing
of any human
meaning or worth
until we cure
ourselves of slavery
and end
this pestilential war!
And whether any of you
or anyone else knows it,
I know I need this!
This amendment
is that cure!
Steven worked a long time
to find where the story was
to tell it.
Kushner: And it took guts
for Steven to make a movie
about Abraham Lincoln
in which Lincoln
shares top billing with
the House of Representatives.
Doris Kearns Goodwin:
He had faith that if he told
a story
that is about democracy
and it's about messiness
and politics--
and people
are on different sides
of the issue,
and people
who were Democrats then
are Republicans now,
and Republicans now
were Democrats then,
was pretty confusing
for people to get a sense
right away
of what the story was.
But he somehow thought
if the American people
can feel this man
and feel what he was doing,
they'll see what democracy is
when it really works.
A motion has been made
to bring the bill
for the 13th Amendment
to a vote.
- Do I hear a second?
- I second the motion.
- ( gravel bangs )
- So moved, so ordered.
And in the end,
it's not Lincoln's triumph
that's pushed to the fore
in the film.
I think what's really
pushed to the fore
is that it's a triumph
of democracy.
The part assigned to me
is to raise the flag.
And when up,
it'll be for the people
to keep it up.
That's my speech.
( crowd laughing,
applauding )
We are coming,
Father Abraham
300,000 more
From Mississippi's
winding stream
And from
New England's shore
We leave
our ploughs...
( music playing )
( moaning )
Oh, yeah!
( chattering )
Todd McCarthy:
From about the time
of the millennium
in Spielberg's career,
there is something,
whether it's personal,
political, historical,
that pushed him
in a more adventurous
and a darker direction.
I fundamentally
don't buy
that he has
a pessimistic worldview
or that he suddenly changed
and has a more dubious opinion
of the human race,
but still,
there's been
an alteration.
He has been willing
to go places
that he would not have gone
in his earlier films.
( chatter on TV )
All right, Howard Marks.
Where are you?
It was a very complicated
story, "Minority Report."
A very dark story,
You know, democracy,
freedom of choice,
That dark, futuristic
dystopian tone
was so compelling for me
at that time.
Tennessee Williams
says that artists
are like the canaries
in the coal mine.
And Steven has
an uncanny knack
for feeling what's going on
in the world around him
and what needs to be said
at its moment.
I think he's
a very present filmmaker.
By mandate
of the District of Columbia
Precrime Division,
I'm placing you under
arrest for the future murder
of Sarah Marks and Donald...
The film anticipated
the whole post-9/11 mentality
of arresting people
before they can commit crimes
and preventive detention
and so on.
But the movie that I made
that was a real statement
about 9/11
was "War of the Worlds."
( people screaming )
For me, it began with
what would really happen
if we were invaded
and everything
that we thought
made us invulnerable
to invasion
was all wrong?
( people screaming )
There's a sequence
where Cruise's character
runs through the streets
and the ray is turning
people to dust
and some of that dust
is in his hair.
And he comes home
and sees himself in shock
and realizes
that that's remains
that are in his hair.
- Oh!
- ( water running )
Steven handled that
with great tact.
9/11 was so much a part
of our national psyche,
you didn't have to do much
to evoke the shock we all felt
and the helplessness
we all felt at being attacked.
( all shouting )
( shouting continues )
( screaming )
( shouting continues )
Good afternoon.
I'm Jim McKay speaking to you
live at this moment
from ABC headquarters
just outside the Olympic Village
in Munich, West Germany.
The peace of what is--
would've been called
the "Serene Olympics"
was shattered
just before dawn
this morning about 5:00.
- ( chatter )
- Kushner: Nobody was
expecting Steven Spielberg,
maybe the world's
most famous Jewish artist,
to weigh in
on the Middle East
it's such a minefield,
and Steven
is not a sensationalist
in the sense
of wanting to create,
you know, firestorms
of controversy.
- Jim: This is
building number 31.
- ( chatter )
At this moment,
eight or nine terrified
living human beings
- are being held prisoner.
- ( chanting )
I felt I could not
make this one-sided.
And so, I knew
it would be controversial
from the very get-go.
( woman vocalizing )
- ( chatter on TV )
- ( overlapping voices )
Eric Bana:
It was that story
of the group of Mossad agents
who were assembled
to avenge the deaths
of the Israeli athletes
at the Munich Olympics.
It was their job
to go after a list
of targeted men
who were part
of a terrorist group.
And it was
their job to, one by one,
assassinate them.
Daniel Craig:
This movie was trying to affect
and turn on a debate.
Is vengeance the answer?
Does it actually
solve anything?
If you continue
the cycle of violence
and cycle of blood,
that's what they'll be
and nothing else.
Steven was very keen
to tell a human story,
that these were men
and not superheroes.
Their indecision
and their mistakes
and their-- is the reality
of what happened, you know?
Life isn't
a "James Bond" movie.
( chuckles )
Are you--
are you Wael Zwaiter?
He said yes already.
He already said yes.
( speaking Arabic )
What are we doing?
( speaking Arabic )
What do I do?
Do you know
why we're here?
( speaking Arabic )
Hoberman: In "Munich,"
Spielberg is trying
to come to terms
with the war
against terror.
And he doesn't know
where he is on it.
He's-- he supports it,
but he's also
disturbed by it.
And so,
that's an example
of a kind of thoughtfulness
that goes into his work.
I mean,
he's the Hollywood equivalent
of a public intellectual.
I remember when we shot
the telephone bomb sequence.
In that one dolly shot,
you got a complete
sense of the geography
of the entire scene.
It took three days
to shoot the scene.
Everything had to be
from points of view.
There was the point of view
of the guys in the car.
So now we wait
for the red light.
There was the point of view
of the man in the phone booth
who was gonna dial
the number.
There was a point of view
of Avner.
It's a triangle
of shots.
is one of the most
important things to me,
so the audience
isn't thrown into chaos
trying to figure out
the story you're telling.
The audience needs to be
clearer than you.
- Is the truck
blocking the signal?
- No.
Will the remote
still work?
I can create suspense
if the audience knows
where all the players are,
and they know
what the stakes are,
and they know
that there's a ticking clock.
Like the mom and daughter
that get into the car
and then wind up returning
because she forgot the glasses.
( phone rings )
The suspense
of that sequence
is letting the audience
know geographically
where everybody is
at all times.
All? All?
( muffled sound )
( siren wailing )
( whispering )
Stop, stop. Abort.
Kushner: You're in the hands
of somebody who will always
show you what you need to see
in order to understand,
on a narrative level,
what's happening.
And you'll also see
a lot of things
that will help you understand
on deeper levels as well.
And that
sort of narrative device
that's in his head
is, you know, I think
almost without precedent.
( phone ringing )
- Oui?
- Man: Mahmoud Hamshari?
( explosion )
We talked a great deal
about the politics
of making a movie
like this.
How do you make a film
that allows
for the possibility
of understanding
why these men who murdered
the athletes
did what they did?
Not in any way
to excuse it,
but to try
and comprehend it.
You kill Jews, and the world
feels bad for them and thinks
you're animals.
Yes, but then
the world will see
how they've made us
into animals.
They'll start
to ask questions
about the conditions
in our cages.
The movie was perceived
to be suffering
from a sense
of moral equivalence,
which is really
the bravest thing
about the movie.
It's looking
for aspects of humanity
on both sides of this conflict.
Ambiguity is something that
you don't normally associate
with Spielberg's films,
and "Munich" is the film
where he went the furthest
in the bluntness
and the ferocity
with which he approached
that subject.
Did we accomplish
anything at all?
Every man we killed
has been replaced by worse!
Why cut my fingernails?
They'll grow back.
Did we kill to replace
the terrorist leadership
or the Palestinian leadership?
You tell me
what we've done.
You killed them
for the sake of a country
you now choose to abandon.
The end of this film
is not celebratory--
rejoicing in the death
of the enemy.
It is incredibly quiet,
and only
on the second viewing
did I realize
the Twin Towers
are revealed at the end.
We did several takes
of that scene
without having
that space in the frame,
and then we did one take
with having that space
in the frame,
knowing that he would put
the Towers in.
Steven knew that he's making
a controversial movie.
He just didn't want
to push the boundaries.
But then at the end,
he realized,
"You know what?
I'm already doing it.
Why not just go and say
what I want to say,
you know?"
I made the choice because
I wanted people to say
"Munich" is the context
for problems that exist
in today's world
and basically
are threatening
to all of us.
You know, history
is its own reminder
of how bad things
can get.
And if we don't
solve these problems,
they accumulate.
And you can't--
there's no rug big enough
to sweep
these problems under.
And eventually,
something is going to happen.
And so, "Munich"
is a prayer for peace,
but peace the hard way.
You know,
peace by discovering
within yourself
your moral high ground.
All my films come
from the part of myself
that I really can't
I certainly have
intuitive facilities,
but I don't really analyze those
or don't really question them.
It's like looking
a gift horse in the mouth,
and I'm almost superstitious
that if I start to
question that,
it's gonna, you know,
fly away.
I don't think there's
any doubt that Steven's work
deals with specific themes
in his life,
which makes him
a real personal filmmaker.
Do you understand
what we are saying
to you, Frank?
Your father and I
are getting a divorce.
And his express
through the images,
through the choice of story
and how he deals with character.
( music playing )
All of Steven's
were right in tune
with this young man's journey.
You're immediately
with this kid,
and no matter
what he does,
you know he's searching
for some way back
to repairing
this torn household.
- Have you tried
to call her?
- No.
Why-- why don't
you call her right now?
Dad, why don't you
call her right now?
Dad, just call her.
Call her for me.
You call her.
You tell her I have
two first-class tickets
to go see her son--
Your mother's married now
to my friend Jack Barnes.
- They have a house
in Long Island.
- Oh, no.
So often
in Spielberg's movies
the relationships
that matter
are the relationships
between parent and children
or members of a family
or members of a community
bound by affection
and loyalty and responsibility.
It's a huge theme
that comes up again
and again and again
in different phases
of his own life
and in different stories.
( tires screeching )
Whoa! Hey!
Ronnie, hold it.
Hold it. Wa--
- ( tires screech )
- Hold it.
Family is a big element
in my life,
which is why
so many of my stories
are about separation
and then reunification.
Even "Lincoln"
is about separation
and reunification.
( screaming )
( gunfire )
- ( sobbing )
- ( glass rattling )
( screams )
I've made
a lot of movies
about a family
and then a family
finding common ground
to reunite.
( music playing )
Kushner: There's a sense
that everything, including
the natural world,
conspires to pull people
or beings apart
from one another
and then to return them.
It's like
Shakespeare's romances.
There's a deep faith
in his work that...
what's lost
will in some way
be restored.
And I think
he is searching for that
in almost all the films
that he's made.
( piano music playing )
Now slowly.
My mom and dad
have a relationship today
which a writer
in a storybook
would be accused
of exaggeration.
I feel very lucky that
after all these years apart,
my parents
spend quality time
with each other.
- ( music playing )
- Nancy: If you look
at the first 18 years
of Steve's life
and now, current day,
you would not know
that there was a huge chunk
in the middle,
that there was a divorce
and a separation,
a lot of tears,
and another man,
and another wife,
and, you know,
it looks like we were
one continuous, happy family.
We just lost the reels
to the home movies
in the middle of life.
Now she's back
in love with me.
Isn't that nice?
( music continues )
( laughs )
Oh, Leah.
Janusz, it'd be
a better two-shot.
If Dougie is here, okay,
then it's not such a spread.
- So, it's not a single.
It's over here.
- No, no, it's a single.
When we start pulling back,
Dougie comes into
the shot sooner.
And then we continue
with the move?
Yeah, we continue
with the move,
but right now
it looks like
- there's nothing in the center
but the window.
- Got you.
Steven loves to be a part
of a big gang of people
and the company of filmmakers
who are making a movie.
It's a big, great club.
It's a big, great family.
- Spielberg: Tom, action.
- Kennedy: I think it defines
Steven's filmmaking
in many,
many different ways
because Steven is grounded
and feels very safe
inside an environment
with family.
He likes
close relationships
with a few people
who he trusts
and he can open
his life up to.
And then he's very reluctant
to have anybody leave.
That's it right there.
It looks great.
We work for Steven.
He's the boss,
but he encourages
people with talent
to use the talent,
to be brave with it,
to take risks,
because he wants to be
stimulated as a filmmaker,
but those
who he works with,
you know.
And that's
a really good quality
in a filmmaker.
He's very collaborative.
He uses his people
over and over again
on the films
because we already speak
a shorthand to each other.
- We've all worked together.
- And they'd come on
to full size...
He understands that people
and can serve him
and how to synchronize
his wishes with your own.
He would've made
a great general.
If you could say
that a film unit
can be like
a Special Forces film crew,
that's what he has.
His team works so fast,
so hard getting through
a lot every day.
Everybody on their feet,
And I think you could
come to grief
very, very quickly
on Steven's set
if you weren't
very well prepared.
Everyone has to be.
And that creates
incredible energy.
( music playing )
I work with my peeps,
and I have for decades.
I mean, I don't know
what I would do without them.
Roll sound.
( chatter )
I can't really have sanity
unless I have
And it's just
an extraordinary family
that I've been able to assemble
over all these years.
I love being
part of his tapestry,
so to speak, you know,
like "Fiddler on the Roof."
After 37 years,
it's nice to know...
You know?
Michael Kahn and I
are blood brothers.
He started with me
on "Close Encounters
of the Third Kind,"
and except for one time,
he's edited every movie
I made since then.
Janusz Kaminski
has done everything
since "Schindler's List."
But John Williams
is my oldest collaboration,
and I depend on Johnny
more than I've depended
on anybody
to rewrite
my movies musically
and put them a rung higher
than I ever could reach.
You know, if I had
to go back and recast
the creative team
surrounding me,
I wouldn't be able to work
as often as I do.
It'd be impossible.
Steven looks
at movies constantly
and over and over
and over again,
referencing shots
and framing and ideas.
That's something Steven does
all the time.
( boat horn blaring )
Great filmmakers' works
live on to create
tremendous moments
of inspiration.
And so, one of the films
I still see every year
is "Lawrence of Arabia."
( music playing )
The shots,
the sheer vistas,
and the portrait
of such a complex character,
it's pure moviemaking.
Hey! Hey! Hey!
Who are you?
Who are you?
Steven has always
wanted to work
in a kind of big, you know,
historical canvass like that,
and it took many movies
before he accomplished
that level
of masterly filmmaking.
Many years ago, Pauline Kael
gave me a really great review
on "Sugarland Express,"
but she said,
"Whatever's on the surface
might be all that is there.
There may be nothing
behind that."
And she was
absolutely right.
I hadn't grown up yet
through the movies.
That was going to come
in time.
( music playing )
Take a look at what he's done
over close to 50 years.
There's certainly
a lot of variety.
There are
some things he's done
that haven't worked,
but there is absolutely
nobody like him
and no film career
that is anything like his
in the history of film.
He speaks cinema
as if it's his native language.
He is so fluent in it
that he does things
that nobody else
would dare to do
and they are
instantly recognizable
as things
that are purely his.
He has a dynamic sense
of real filmmaking.
I'm talking
about filmmaking of--
in the great
narrative tradition
of American cinema.
( distant explosion )
Steven was blessed
in that he could be
and he could do art.
That's why
I always compare him
to a kind
of George Gershwin,
because Gershwin
could write a Broadway show
or he could write
"Concerto in F."
He could both,
and very few people can do both.
And Steven can do both.
And that's a talent
you have to be born with.
You think of
that young kid in Arizona,
in the desert,
watching movies,
watching television
one day sneaking his way
into a studio,
and manifesting
his own destiny.
It's a pretty fantastic
Hollywood story.
J.J. Abrams:
He's found a way to take
his view of the world,
his wishful thinking,
his optimism,
and also his uncanny sense
of the thrill,
and sort of galvanize
the whole thing
into whatever the story is
he's telling.
It's authentically him.
Steven has a part of him
that wants to see
something good
in the darkest
of the dark
or that wants
to just have a playtime.
And there may be people
who say he's not edgy enough
or he's not bitter enough,
he's not quirky enough,
or he's not dark enough,
but when it's all over
and said and done,
what Steven has left
is enormous.
To have both humor
and suspense
and adventure and heart
through his grand eyes
of storytelling
is a hell of a good thing.
Steven still has
an enormous appetite
for the work
that he does.
It's quite a rare thing.
You know, we all have,
probably, a shelf life.
Yes, we probably go
past that shelf life,
most of us,
without even knowing it.
But in his case, I think,
till the day he dies,
he'll be doing work
that he feels absolutely
viscerally compelled to do.
( music playing )