Spielberg’s film themes and techniques

Another great find by Kottke, a 12-minute montage of Spielberg’s films (ET, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, and on).

Fascinating parallels in techniques & themes across Spielberg’s work…worth citing a YouTube commenter of that video:

Very good analysis, although I think that I’d disagree with your ultimate conclusion, that Spielberg’s success is attributable to a unique style. I don’t think that his stylistic and/or technical choices are that much different than many of his contemporaries (e.g., Scorsese). What sets Spielberg apart, IMO, is that he is one of the few who fuses technical mastery with a sensibility that is naturally in line with mainstream America.

Random notes (apologies to film buffs if these seem too generic or basic :) =>

  • borrows heavily from great classic films
  • enjoys moving the camera, as a dance choreographer or a composer. often uses camera movement as a form of dialogue
  • horizontal movements largely about revealing information to the audience
  • pulling in for close-ups, pulling out for wide shots serve as visual key to a scene’s emotional tone
  • john ford: the most interesting landscape is the human face
  • while we look at the characters, quite often they’re looking at something else – withholding the answer to our question: “what are they seeing?”
  • using shadow to enhance human form for comedy, heroism
  • using shapes such as circles to provide visual motifs, frames
  • spiritual and religious aspects of his work – Moses coming down the mountain, shepherd going to the lost land

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