Spielberg has entertained more people than anyone in history. His films have evoked laughs, fear, wonder, rage and empathy. He has crossed genres, not always successfully but fearlessly. He might not be the critics' darling, but with his body of work, he is likely the greatest American film director.
valley village ca
I think the reason is in the article. He wants to be loved and so he has movies that dumb down, that explain everything, that give an audience what he thinks they want (apparently they do) but never makes the really tough artistic decisions that truly great directors make, often pictures that aren't easy, aren't lovable. There's no question about his technical expertise, but his artistic judgement is, it seems to me, cheap, easy, kitschy.
To the short list of Spielberg movies whose central characters are children one should certainly mention A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. True enough, that film revolved around a robot designed to resemble a human child but, along with E.T. and the underappreciated Empire of the Sun, it's the only one that examines childhood as a state of being. The less said about Hook the better.
Two movie directors: Steven Speilberg and George Lucas, from the 1970's into the 1990's basically ruined Hollywood as a place to depend on for films that have human beings and all the wonderful, comic as well as tragic material that comes from the human person as their subject matter. I am thinking of films such as "Meet John Doe", "The Philadelphia Story", "Dark Victory" and "Now Voyager", "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House", "City for Conquest" up to "On the Waterfront", and the realism of the late 60's and early 70's "Bonnie and Clyde", "Midnight Cowboy". Instead of people living human lives as our main characters we had sharks, aliens, dinosaurs, comic strip characters. Special effects became a major attraction instead of incisive (theatrically influenced) dialogue. So now when you want to make a choice of which American made film to see it is like, "Well, let's see should I go see another Batman film or Spiderman 7, or some apocalyptic drama where aliens are arriving in DC to spread a deadly virus and only man can stop them, played by either Denzel Washington or Tom Cruise.
All I can say is - Steven Spielberg is the MOST OVERRATED director of all time in Hollywood.
Art and Spielberg, I am afraid, is an oxymoron. The $3.8 Billion says it all. He knows the popular mind and how to move it. Take, for instance, the artfully incongruous instant of the girl in the red dress in Schindler's List. Does the Holocaust need a gimmick? Must suffering be underlined? Would an artist impose it? Polanski knew that less is better and proved it with The Pianist. I have no trouble with Mr. Spielberg, the very wealthy director/producer of commercial films. Mr. Spielberg, the artist? Well, Kurosawa was an artist. Orson Welles, when he made the movies he wanted to make; David Lean; Ingmar Bergman; Mizuguchi; Kubrick and a few others. Art is one thing. Success and entertainment quite different.
New London, Conn.
Spielberg's problem is that he wants to be considered a serious artist, but isn't. His serious films are neither intellectually nor emotionally challenging. They pander, even when he's trying very, very hard not to. As a consequence, his films lack the "peculiar honesty" that T.S. Eliot ascribed to great art.
It isn't a question of to whom the films are directed. Alfred Hitchcock made films for a mass audience, and so did Charlie Chaplin, yet both produced great art. Spielberg just doesn't understand the difference between a good film and a great one. And so he's really at his best when he's making good films, like Jaws, rather than trying to do something for which he doesn't have the requisite sensibility.
The pollution of our culture by the junk dialogue and characterizations of Star Wars is a sin beyond forgiveness. Spielberg is a schlockmeister of the first order, always the money, the money, the money. Pitiful.
All I can say is that the trailer for War Horse made me cry like a baby.
How can the NYT pronounce the word "art" concerning Steven Spielberg? He is a very successful entertainer, which is not nothing, but that's it. His innovations are purely technical. The trailer of "Tintin" is enough to demonstrate that he has understood nothing of the poetry in Hergé. His films, one after the other, become unwatchable in a matter of a decade. Nothing will remain of his work.
Mr Spielberg is of the 1% and his films show it. When he tries (hard) to be an "artist" - as he periodically does, he falls flat on his face. He is a "commericial" director par excellence. And nothing more.
El Paso Texas
Critics or wonks defining art is ludicrous. Steven judges Steven first and the consumer judges him by their movement. Art is as hard to define as is the artist based mostly by movement as well. The bar and the planet are in motion so that stagnancy is the enemy. Steven has been in motion and his work shows this movable feast. Leave art to the artists and commerce to the consumer. Critics live between the two and serve neither.
I remember being a ten year old kid and going to see 'The Sugarland Express". Like seeing "Bang The Drum Slowly" around the same time, both films made me think and consider the adult world around me in a differt way and the fragility of life. Sugarland Express left a lifelong impression on me. I only wish the Director of that films could talk to the Producer of Transformers and explain to him how important feeding kids something serious, adult and perhaps a few years beyond their keen can help nourish their imaginations and challenge them to make sense of the adult world. Here's hoping 'War Horse' has a bit of that going for it.
I think perhaps a few of Mr Spielberg's films would have been improved if he had said to Mr. Williams "I don't like that." The closing minutes of Amistad and Private Ryan were (for me at least) irreparably harmed by the overbearing and schmaltzy use of loud music over the words of Adams and of Lincoln.
I also think his direction of "Catch Me If You Can" and "The Terminal" has been undervalued.
Why did he choose to ruin Tintin? Why? He has demonstrated his lack of ability to discern true quality, subtelty and depth, and should be celebrated, just like Jobs, as another capitalist who is good at making money for himself, without any awareness of what truely matters in the world.. Just imagine if Jobs had required that all his products were made in america and manufactured without impact on the earth, either in the process or when done..It must have never even occurred to him, just as the real great parts of Tintin elude Speilberg.
Spielberg should give himself a break - the comparisons to Wilder and Coppola are a bit off, given that Coppola and Wilder had multiple roles in their films - both writer and director; whereas Spielberg mostly limits himself to producing and directing.
With two Oscars for Best Director, he ranks up there with a rarefied few directors who have won more than one Oscar - only William Wyler, Frank Capra and John Ford have won more Oscars than Spielberg for Best Director.
He's just not a very deep person.
There's an unusual irony that Spielberg may be the most commercially recognized of mainstream film makers working today, yet unlike, say, Ford or Hitchcock, high profile film makers of comparable iconic status in their own day, Spielberg - specifically, his body of work - fits no neat summary. For example, critical discussion, often keynoting on his forays into childhood-themed films, still overlooks the extraordinary triad of films at the center of Spielberg's filmography, the historical-realist epics Schindler's List, Amistad and Saving Private Ryan, which, resp, deal with genocide, slavery and war, yet share the greater theme of the historical body in crisis. This theme in particular has reverberated through Speilberg's work with remarkable effect, taken up again and re-examined, for example, through the sci-fi prism of AI and War of the Worlds, both brilliant. Genre is clearly no boundary to Speilberg. Rather, what intrigues is how he can move a seminal idea across genres, often with insightful, even breathtaking results. A genuine full critical appreciation of what he's done has yet to begin.
"If Hollywood had a Mount Rushmore, Mr. Spielberg would get two heads." That statement (aside from being highly visual) says a lot, Most of us go to Mr. Spielberg's movies to be entertained, frightened, validate emotions or what have you. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts, like film critics often appreciate movies and directors filmography for quite different reasons than the movie goer. The Oscars more often than not are examples of Hollywood taking care of its own. As Pauline Kael wrote "Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again. If somewhere in the Hollywood-entertainment world someone has managed to break through with something that speaks to you, then it isn’t all corruption." I'm amazed at how often a thoroughly enjoyable movie gets trivialized, trounced or ignored by critics, and how genuinely awful films seem to be critiqued solely for the purpose of advertising. I don't want to imagine my life without the least of Spielberg's vision and inspirations.
Every time Spielberg tells a story, it shrivels up and dies. He is just like George Lucas.
Spielberg is not a director; Spielberg is a brand. The sheer volume of his production and iffy quality proves it.
He reminds of a Czech/American "author" who had a stable of writers churning books. At the end, the "author" would just read the final product, approve it, and placed his well known name to it.
It did not end well.
Kubrick wanted A.I. to be Spielberg's, "A Stanley Kubrick Production of a Steven Spielberg film," is how Stanley tried to sell it to him. He really genuinely felt that this suited Steven's sensibilities more so than his own.
Jan Harlan (Kubrick's producer, and producer on AI), said that had Stanley lived to produce AI, he would very much have been a hands off producer, in that he would not have micro managed. He'd have let Spielberg make his own film.
So, I think we got a LOT more than "an echo" of what might have been.
Kubrick, in the end, got what he wanted, and the credits show it: "A Stanley Kubrick Production of a Steven Spielberg film."
That's Kubrick, word for word.
Out of respect for the master, Kubrick, A.I. should never be mentioned as only Spielberg's movie, but as an orphan he adopted and developed the best he could.
Steven Spielberg, cut to size by NYTimes readers