Creator / Steven Spielberg
Before most of you were born, his name had to be attached to the project.

"I dream for a living."

Every so often someone emerges in a field and manages to not only revolutionize it, but do so several times. Steven Allan Spielberg (December 18, 1946-) is one of those people, with a career that has gone uninterrupted since the mid-70's and is one of the most influential powers in Hollywood.

After playing with his father's 8mm camera as a kid, he enrolled in a community college with a small film program and used those connections to get work directing TV episodes (including Columbo) until he got his big break, a low-budget, cult hit TV film Duel. Duel was an expertly made, taut thriller that was such a hit on TV that he was allowed to shoot more scenes to give it a cinema release in Europe. It got him a lot of attention, enough to be brought on as the director for the film that would launch him into the stratosphere, Jaws, the first summer blockbuster (setting the record for highest grossing movie just before Star Wars: A New Hope came out, pushing the record up even further. It remains one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time).

With basically a blank check, he followed this with benign Alien Invasion Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the 30's serial throwback Raiders of the Lost Ark (the first of the Indiana Jones films; he directed all the sequels as well) and the family favourite E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which became the highest grossing film of all time in its day (his second time achieving that milestone).

In 1985, he branched into directing drama, with his ultra-serious The Color Purple, which was nominated for several Oscars; it would not be his last excursion into this genre.

He is also known for being a collaborator with other very popular films including Poltergeist and The Goonies (a team effort with Richard Donner and Chris Columbus). Even today he is found working in mega-blockbusters like Transformers.

Steven is a long time friend of George Lucas, ever since they met at a film festival when both were in college (Spielberg said he was insanely jealous of Lucas' student film that eventually became THX 1138). While their only official collaborations are Indiana Jones, and to a lesser extent The Land Before Time (Spielberg was supposed to direct Return of the Jedi, issues with the Directors Guild of America stopped that from happening), they frequently spend time together and discuss each other's projects. Spielberg was also a frequent collaborator with Stan Winston, the puppeteer and makeup virtuoso who brought the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and the robots of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence marvelously to life.

In 1994, he was a co-founder of the studio DreamWorks SKG alongside Disney studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and record producer David Geffin. Dreamworks and Spielberg (as producer) would later go on to make the first Medal of Honor video game, widely regarded as the PS1's GoldenEye. He still runs Amblin Entertainment. Now works on a live-action Ghost in the Shell adaption, a work he has said he is fond of.

Spielberg went on to make Hook in 1991, and Jurassic Park in 1993 (his third time making the most successful movie of all time), which revolutionized the use of CG animation in film. Schindler's List in the same year won the Best Picture Oscar and is treasured all over the world to this day, Saving Private Ryan won a handful of Oscars itself, and the controversial A.I.: Artificial Intelligence saw him taking over directorial reins from his good friend Stanley Kubrick, who died in mid-production. Catch Me If You Can re-teamed him with Tom Hanks from Saving Private Ryan, and became another acclaimed hit.

Spielberg has also done television work. He directed part of the pilot of Rod Serling's Night Gallery as well as a few TV movies in addition to Duel, and has produced television shows such as Amazing Stories, seaQuest DSV, ER, and United States of Tara.

He's also delved into animation. He collaborated with Don Bluth in the 1980's to produce box office successes like An American Tail and The Land Before Time, also starting his own animation studio, Amblimation, which would go on to produce the somewhat less successful We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, and Balto; it and Bluth would be spiritually replace by Katzenberg's DreamWorks Animation (he also had input in DWA's first Shrek movie). He is also known as the executive producer for (and mistakenly believed to have created, thanks to In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It) Warner Bros. Silver Age cartoons Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Freakazoid!, Pinky and the Brain, and some lesser known works, such as Histeria!!note , Toonsylvania (one of his first animated projects when he created DreamWorks Studios), and the much-reviled Pinky and the Brain spinoff Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain.

On top of everything else, he has also worked extensively with the Universal Studios parks as a creative consultant. He helped oversee the development of both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, as well as many attractions; including E.T. Adventure note , JAWS, Kongfrontation, Back to the Future: The Ride, Jurassic Park River Adventure, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Men In Black: Alien Attack, Transformers: The Ride, and so on.

Has said that his Oscar awards pale in comparison to the honor of being selected as a bearer of the Olympic Flag in the Salt Lake City games of 2002.


Tropes associated with Spielberg's filmography

  • Author Appeal: In most of Spielberg's films, fathers or father-figures are either absent or aloof. Several essays have analyzed this as a manifestation of Steven's childhood getting projected into his art (his own father strongly disapproved of his interest in movies, though he admitted he was wrong after Steven's incredible success).
  • Bittersweet Ending: A good chunk of his movies have either this or happy endings, if the hero dies it will be a dignified Heroic Sacrifice or be remembered in the end for what they've done.
  • Creator Cameo: Spielberg has a brief cameo at the end of The Blues Brothers, where he plays the Assessor of Cook County, Illinois (i.e. the guy they actually need to pay the $5000 bucks to save the orphanage to). He also has a small appearance in his 1972 Made-for-TV Movie Something Evil (a rare non-Universal TV effort) and in Gremlins as the guy driving the trolley while Billy's dad is on the phone.
  • Dramatic Irony: Spielberg is often named a Spiritual Successor to Alfred Hitchcock for his talents in creating suspense.
  • Emotional Torque: His main motivation in filmmaking.
  • Fanservice: Almost totally averted in Spielberg's works. Sexuality is usually offscreen, nudity is rarely seen, and when nudity is seen it's usually for Fan Disservice, as with a murder scene in Munich or concentration camp prisoners in Schindler's List.
    • One of the very rare straight examples (combined with Naked People Are Funny) is actually a parody of a Fan Disservice scene in an earlier Spielberg film. In the opening scene of Jaws, a young woman goes skinny-dipping on a beach in the early hours of the morning, only to be eaten by a shark. In the opening scene of 1941, a young woman goes skinny-dipping on a beach in the early hours of the morning only to be rather surprised by a surfacing Japanese submarine; unlike in the previous scene, she escapes after suffering nothing more than a Naked Freak-Out. Bonus points because it was the same actress in both scenes.
  • First Contact: Spielberg made four films with this theme: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, War of the Worlds, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Only the third one shows the aliens as clear villains.
  • Genre Roulette: He directed monster movies (Jaws, Jurassic Park), science fiction (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, War of the Worlds), action adventure (Indiana Jones), comedy (1941), war drama (Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, War Horse), fantasy (Hook), biopics (Lincoln), racial drama (The Color Purple, Amistad, Munich), comic book movies (The Adventures of Tintin),...
  • Gorn: "Gorn" might be too strong a word, but Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan and Munich don't shy away from what happens when people suffer violent deaths.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Many of Spielberg's films thrive on innocent, naïve and escapist adventure stories, often shown from a child's point of view. Half of the time they are boyish fantasies. This has lead many movie critics to compare him to a cinematic Peter Pan character, whose films never touch upon real adult issues. Conincidentally Spielberg even made a Peter Pan film, Hook! The criticism has died out a little from the moment Spielberg started making more adult films such as The Color Purple, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Munich and Lincoln, but even in these serious films you'll find lighthearted and comedic moments. Terry Gilliam once (quite unfairly) criticized Spielberg for always wanted to leave his audience with happy endings and answers to everything.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When good people die in Spielberg's films, they often sacrifice themselves to a greater cause. See Eddie Carr in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Miller in Saving Private Ryan
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With George Lucas as well as John Williams (who has composed the scores for all but a few of Spielberg's films) and to a lesser extent Jeffrey Katzenberg, with whom he co-founded DreamWorks and had worked with on several production prior to that at both Paramount (the first two Indiana Jones films) and Disney (Who Framed Roger Rabbit); he replaced Michael Eisner in that regard.
  • Iconic Outfit: His baseball cap, black shirt and jeans, which he always wears while directing.
  • Karmic Death: Villains always get what they deserve, unless they repent before the story is concluded.
  • Kid Hero: Children are often cast as heroes in Spielberg's films or they are at least deemed very important to the progression of the story.
  • Military Super Hero: In Spielberg's work soldiers are always cast as brave ordinary people one should look up to, especially if they are American. They won't be perfect people, but they always live up to their duty and do what is right. There's also a strong theme in his more recent work of joining the army for the greater good. In War of the Worlds and Lincoln a youngster wants to join the army, in both occasions because he wants to do his patriotic duty and help his country out. Needless to say, in both cases the boys survive.
  • Odd Friendship: Stanley Kubrick and Spielberg were polar opposites as far as film styles go, however, they had a very close friendship. The two would often have extended talks on the art of filmmaking and other subjects. Because of the England-Los Angeles time difference the former would often call the latter up in the middle of the night, and the two would have conversations over the phone for hours. Eventually Kubrick handpicked Spielberg to direct his final film.
  • The Oner: Unlike many other directors, Spielberg's oners are on the short end of the scale (averaging about 1-1:30), and he rarely calls attention to them. Many of them are more "invisible coverage" of a scene, essentially moving around actors, the camera and action to create "separate shots" but without breaking up the action. Some great examples includes Marcus and Indy's dialogue at Indy's home in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1:36) or the dialogue above the ferry in Jaws (1:43).
  • Parental Issues: In Spielberg's work a lot of troubled father-son relations can be found or adults who don't like children. These two tropes keep reappearing in almost every film he makes.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Spielberg is quite proud of his home country and likes to show it in his work, especially when American soldiers fight Nazis. However he is also critical of blind patriotism as in 1941, racism (Amistad, The Color Purple, Lincoln) and the Red Scare (Bridge of Spies), and also anti-immigrant attitudes (The Terminal).
  • Platonic Life Partners: Was this with Amblin supremo and producer Kathleen Kennedy for a long time. The two worked on multiple projects together. Kennedy eventually had to leave Amblin to become boss of Lucasfilm, which made her the boss of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises and a Disney executive within a few months of that job.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation: One of, if not the, biggest advocates. Two of his feature productions (An American Tailnote  and Who Framed Roger Rabbit) are credited in being the films that convinced the mainstream that animation was still profitable. On television, teased the possibility of fluid, high-quality animation on television with "Family Dog" and, a few years later, would team up with Tom Rugger for Animaniacs, one of the era's crowning jewels.
  • Summer Blockbuster: He invented and popularized the genre after Jaws became the best-selling film of all time in 1975. He broke his own record twice with the release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Jurassic Park (1993).
  • Special Effects: Spielberg's films are known for their technical achievements in the fields of special effects, most notably in E.T. and Jurassic Park. However, they always complimented the stories and the characters instead of the other way around.
  • Tear Jerker: Despite being a special effects innovator Spielberg is known for his emotional depth in his stories and has a great sense of Character Development, though sometimes he is accused of taking it to over-the-top levels.
  • Technician vs. Performer: The Performer to George Lucas' (and Stanley Kubrick's) Technicians, although the comparison is a little unfair, given that Spielberg is a superb technician himself.
  • World War II: The 1930s and 1940s are Spielberg's favorite time period, it seems. 1941, The Indiana Jones films, Empire of the Sun, Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan all take place during this era.