Steven Spielberg may not say much but his work speaks for itself; he’s not even on the cover of his own book, which in fact has a portrait of ET, one of the most ground breaking characters ever created in cinema. The director behind modern-day classics like Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List and Minority Report is, in fact, a risk-taker and that’s what this book in the Masters of Cinema series concurs. Why Spielberg went for films that no one dared to back, why he decided to break taboos with his camera and why he continues to be relevant even today…answers to all these questions can be found in the few pages of this well-researched book that isn’t a biography but a trip down memory lane.
Born to Jewish parents, who divorced when he was young, Spielberg found refuge in films. When with people of his age, he felt threatened but when with his camera, he felt like the King of the World and that’s one of the many things you read about him in this book written by renowned film critic and journalist, Clelia Cohen. It also tells you that the myth regarding Steven Spielberg and his trips to Universal Studios – with an empty suitcase and his own ambition to become a film director at 21 – were true and even though he was four years late in fulfilling his wish, it kick-started a journey that isn’t slowing down even after almost five decades.
This book doesn’t just highlight Steven Spielberg’s successes but also his failures, most notably 1941, his least successful film of all time. His foray into making films centered on the African Americans, his return to TV despite a successful film career and his strange casting decisions is something the readers would love to know, and they get to know about each and everything. Why he chose to work with Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, what was the reason behind casting Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan and The Terminal, who was Leonardo DiCaprio representing onscreen in Catch Me If You Can… this book bares all and is a must-read for film aficionados with a thirst for information.
You’ll get to read about Orson Welles’ relationship with Spielberg, about one of Spielbergs earliest projects – Amblin – which is now the name of his company, and what motivated the decision to make historical films, one of those for which the celebrated director got his first Oscar nomination. The narrative is so simple that you would be able to finish this coffee table edition in one sitting, provided you know about most of the films being discussed here as that would make it a double treat. The behind the scenes images as well as the stills from the movies are worth a fortune if you understand their importance and value.
If you want to know all about Steven Spielberg, this book is a must-have. From his early life to his most successful film, his collaborations and decisions, each and everything gets mentioned here because they have made Spielberg the legend he is today. He made a monstrous hit from a movie where the mechanical shark wasn’t in working condition, he broke all barriers by going for a black and white film in the 90s and made strange casting choices that are now considered iconic. This is what made Steven Spielberg a modern-day film giant and this book is his story.
– Omair Alavi is a freelance broadcast journalist who can be contacted at [email protected]