Summer of Spielberg

By Ashley Choudry

One of the most essential participants of the movie making process is the director. Without the director a film simply cannot be made; they are the artistic leader, the visionary that holds everything together. This month I want to draw your attention to one of the most esteemed and loved director’s cinema has ever seen, the great Steven Spielberg.

When you think of Spielberg, you probably think you know most of his films, he’s one of the first names that comes to mind when you think of directors. Well I want to talk to you about some of the lesser known films of his, ones you may have seen or heard of but might not realise that they were directed by Spielberg himself. Over several decades Spielberg has become a master of many genres; from Sci-fi action flicks to Spy thrillers; and in this blog I will showcase a few different ones.

We start with an early 20th century Sci-fi film, Minority Report (2002).

Minority Report DVD

Based on a short story by well known writer Philp K. Dick, this was also one of the enigmatic Tom Cruises’ earliest action films. Set in 2054, it revolves around a futuristic police department specialising in predicting crimes and those who will commit them before they happen. This is accomplished with the help of three Precogs (human clairvoyants) who have the ability to foresee future events.  However, one day they predict that Chief John Anderton (Cruise) will kill a man, prompting him to go one the run and desperately try to prove his innocence. Perfect for those with a taste for fast-paced action flicks with a Sci-fi twist, it was among the best reviewed films of 2002 and continues to be revered as a cult classic.

It is far from the first film that comes to mind when thinking of Tom Cruise or Spielberg but deserves more recognition nonetheless. It’s available now on DVD and e-stream. Watch the clip below for a taste of the action:

From Sci-Fi action to Children’s fantasy, our next entry is the live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved book The BFG (2016).

BFG DVD

Almost a shot for shot retelling of the 1989 animated version, the well-known tale centres on a 10-year old orphan girl named Sophie who one night is abducted by a giant. What enfolds is a fantastical adventure as the BFG introduces Sophie to his world while simultaneously trying to protect her from several unfriendly characters and reclaim his home (with a little help from his new friend).

While it may have been underappreciated on the big screen, Spielberg’s trademark movie magic brings the book to life in new and imaginative ways, blended the celebrated styles of films such as E.T. (1982) & Hook (1991). A talented cast and brilliant effects make this one to watch with your family in what remains of this summer. You know the story, now you can envision what it would be like in reality. Loan it now on DVD in the Library. Watch the trailer now in the link below:

In addition to action and sci-fi & fantasy, Spielberg is also admired for tackling real-life matters within his work.

This ties in neatly with our third film of the month, The Color Purple (1985). It’s another of Spielberg’s famous book adaptations (see the above film or Jurassic Park for an example), this time based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name by Alice Walker.

The Color Purple DVD

A powerful rendition about a young African-American girl (played by the incredible Whoopi Goldberg in her breakout role) facing problems almost every African-American female; plus, many more people, faced throughout the 20th century. Those trials faced denote strong themes including; domestic violence, incest, paedophilia, racism, poverty and sexism; but don’t let them put you off of seeing this compelling flick. The Color Purple is certainly one of Spielberg’s most under-appreciated films, nominated for several Oscars (including Best Actress for Goldberg) but failing to achieve a single win. Though the judging panel did not deem it worthy of an award, I certainly deem it worthy of a watch.

Even though it is not for the faint of heart, it tells an important story representing both Black and feminine history and does feature some very uplifting moments within its intense tone. You can check out the trailer in the link below and then loan it out on DVD only in the Library:

Lastly, we take a look at another of Spielberg’s more recent entries into his filmography, the acclaimed spy thriller Bridge of Spies (2015).

Bridge of Spies DVD

More of a historical drama than a straight-laced spy film, it’s centred on real-life events surrounding American lawyer James B. Donovan and Soviet spy Rudolf Abel during the Cold War.

At the height of the Cold War US attorney Donovan (played by the always magnificent Tom Hanks, a somewhat often collaborator of Spielberg’s) is sent into Berlin to negotiate for the return of captured US pilot Francis Gary Powers in return for Soviet spy Abel, who has in turn been arrested by the US. What neither side banks on however, is Donovan’s kind heart as he sees the good in Abel and endeavours to get the best deal for both parties involved.

It’s a profound retelling of touching story with terrific acting from the whole cast, with action, intrigue and even a little humour. Even despite its many departures from historical record it was still heavily praised by critics, nominated for several Oscars, and winning Mark Rylance (The BFG himself in the 2016 movie) a Best Supporting Actor gong for his role as Rudolf Abel. However, while adored by critics it was somewhat overlooked by the public audiences making only a modest profit at the box-office. Well now is your chance to watch it in all of its glory on DVD in the Library.

Click on the link below to view a snippet of what’s to come with Donovan and Abel’s first meeting:

Steven Spielberg is one of the most acclaimed directors of all time, but not all of his films are so well known or abundantly watched. If you love him and his films visit the Library now and loan out one or more of these great films to finish your summer or start the new year on a great note!!

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