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Steven Spielberg’s Contribution in Movie Industry Essay

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Updated: Aug 31st, 2021

The name of American film director and producer Steven Spielberg will always feature as one of the greatest contributors to the motion picture industry. His exceptional achievements are legendary.

Steven Spielberg was born on December 18, 1960, in Cincinnati, Ohio. His fascination with movies began in his early teens when he shot his first 8mm adventure movie. He won a prize at the age of 13 for his 40-minute war movie ‘Escape to Nowhere.’ Spielberg graduated from Saratoga High School, California, in 1965 before going on to do his higher education at California State University at Long Beach.

Spielberg’s tryst with destiny started when he joined Universal Studios as an intern. He shot a 24-minute movie titled ‘Amblin in 1968. The movie was so impressive that Sidney Sheinberg, Vice-President of production of the Studios’ television branch, signed him on as a professional director in television. Spielberg made several segments on famous episodes such as ‘Marcus Welby M.D,’ ‘Night Gallery,’ and ‘Owen Marshall.’ His impressive work gained Spielberg a contract to make 3 TV movies for Universal Studios – ‘Duel,’ ‘Something Evil’ and ‘Savage.’ The success of these movies propelled Spielberg into directing theatrical films. His first movie was ‘The Sugarland Express’ in 1974. Starring William Atherton and Goldie Hawn, it was about a husband and wife outrunning the law while trying to get back guardianship of their child. Although the movie did not fare well at the box office, it drew rave critical reviews highlighted by ‘The Hollywood Reporter that lauded him as a major new director’ on the horizon. The enthusiastic reviews prompted Universal Studios to choose Spielberg to direct ‘Jaws’ in 1975. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

‘Jaws,’ a movie based on a novel of the same name by Peter Benchley, featured a killer shark viciously attacking people, with Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss in the lead roles. The blockbuster grossed a domestic box office record of $ 470.6 million, won 3 Academy Awards, propelled Spielberg to international fame, and made him a multi-millionaire. With Drefuss again in the lead role, Spielberg made ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ in 1977, a science-fiction blockbuster revolving around UFOs. It proved to be his second box office hit, going on to win 2 Oscars. Spielberg’s spiraling success was briefly halted when ‘1941,’ a 1979 movie about the Pearl Harbor attack aftereffects starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, turned out to be his first theatrical film flop.

The master director responded to this setback by filming this third blockbuster, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ in 1981, an action genre film about Nazis trying to locate the lost Ark of the Covenant to gain invincibility. The film that starred Harrison Ford received several Oscar nominations. A year later, Spielberg followed it up with ‘E.T’ about a boy interacting with friendly aliens. ‘E.T’ broke the box office record set by ‘Jaws.’ Between 1982 and 1984, Spielberg went on to make 3 high-grossing movies – ‘The Poltergeist,’ ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘The Goonies.’ Another box office hit followed in 1985: ‘The Color Purple,’ a story about empowered African-American women starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, received 11 Academy Award nominations. Spielberg returned to making dramatic genre films, releasing two of them in 1989 – ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ starring Sean Connery and Harrison Ford, and ‘Always’ with old favorite Richard Drefuss in the lead role. The race director went on to make ‘Hook’ in 1991, with Robin Williams starring as the impish Peter Pan (Wikipedia.org). Two years later, the film industry was rejuvenated as never before, and in all probability, never again.

Spielberg released ‘Jurassic Park’ in 1993, a science fiction film based on Michael Crichton’s novel about cloned dinosaurs. The movie, starring Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, and Laura Dern, went on to break the box office record set by ‘E.T.’ ‘Schindler’s List’ followed during that same year, about the rescue of 1,100 persons from the Holocaust. The film, starring Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley, was a huge box office success. Spielberg rounded off 1993 with ‘Godzilla,’ a movie about dinosaurs that went on to set an unbroken box office record of $ 914 million.

Spielberg then took a well-deserved break of 4 years from film directing, during which time he established his own film studio named ‘Dream Works Pictures.’ He then returned to doing what he does best, completing ‘The Lost World; Jurassic Park’ in 1997 starring Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Moore. While nowhere near the spectacular success of ‘Jurassic Park,’ the sequel did reasonably well, grossing $ 230 million at the box office. From then on, Spielberg decided to release all his future movies through his own studio. While the first release, ‘Amistad’ about an African slave revolt starring Anthony Hopkins and Morgan Freeman did not fare too well at the box office, the second, ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ became the new studio’s first major hit. Released in 1998 with Tom Hanks in the lead role, it was about a group of American soldiers rescuing one of their comrades from France during World War II.

Spielberg made 3 films during 2001-2002. A futuristic movie, ‘A.I: Artificial Intelligence,’ was about a humanoid android desperately searching for love. Another futuristic film, ‘Minority Report’ featured Tom Cruise as the lead actor. Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story about a policeman in Washington D.C who is destined to kill a man he has not yet encountered, ‘Minority Report’ grossed $ 300 million internationally. ‘Catch Me if you can,’ which centered around the daring exploits of a lovable con artist , was a commercial and critical success.

Spielberg made 3 different genre films during 2004-2005. ‘The Terminal’ starring Tom Hanks as an East European stranded a U.S. airport due to a military coup in his country, was a delightful comedy that achieved reasonable box office success. ‘War of the Worlds’ with Tom Cruise in the lead, was a futuristic movie featuring alien invaders . ‘Munich’ was Spielberg’s second film to deal with the unique problems of Jews in the world. Starring Eric Bana, ‘Munich’ was based on the real-life massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympic Games.

There are presently 2 Spielberg films due for release in 2008 – ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ starring Harrison Ford, and ‘Lincoln’ with Liam Neeson playing the role of America’s 16th President.

Steven Spielberg is credited with having pioneered several cadres of film in the motion picture industry.

‘Jaws’ is considered the father of summer blockbuster movies, while also setting a precedent for ‘high concept’ films that conform with five requirements: a new and untraditional premise, a tale that is attractive to a mass audience, a tale-specific method of persuasion, a method of persuasion that is 1 to 3 sentences in length and a latent possibility that is quite apparent.

‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ is considered the landmark of action genre films, involving the requisite qualities of powerful effect, non-stop high energy, damaging natural disasters, sensational rhythm and pacing, and daring performances by actors, all aimed at spawning unmitigated viewer escapism.

‘A.I: Artificial Intelligence’ is looked upon as the trendsetter for visual effects and a many-layered allegorical storyline. Famous critic Armond White of the New York Press lauded it as his ‘all-time favorite’ film. Critics also lavishly heaped praise on ‘The Color Purple as an outstanding example of a dramatic genre film. ‘Saving Private Ryan’ contains such vividly detailed, practical scenes of combat violence that it directly influenced future war movies like ‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘Enemy at the Gates’.

Out of the many accolades and awards Steven Spielberg won during his 40-year professional career, 3 are particularly worth mentioning. The first is Spielberg’s 3 Academy Awards. The second is ‘The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award’ in 1987 that acknowledged his contribution to the movie industry. The honor he will probably treasure the most is the Department of Defense Medal that was awarded to him in 1999 at the Pentagon in appreciation of ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ extolling the movie for having ‘reconnected’ the American populace with its soldiers, and ‘rekindled’ profound appreciation for the ‘daily sacrifices they make to defend the country.

Steven Spielberg’s contribution has been so tremendous that the respected American magazine ‘Premiere’ identified him in 2006 as the ‘most powerful and influential person in the motion picture industry.’ LIFE magazine went a step further, identifying Spielberg as the ‘most influential person of his generation’.

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