Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Top Films: Spielberg in the Nineties

In the Seventies, Spielberg created the blockbuster with Jaws, and scared a lot of people off ever going into the water again. In the eighties, he did it again recreating the matinee with Raiders and somehow making ugly cute with E.T. In the nineties, he somehow managed to top himself again… and again… and yet again.

Jurassic Park redefined movie making and nearly destroyed the traditional film in favor of computer graphics. To be sure, other films had paved the way for Jurassic, (Young Sherlock Holmes and Terminator 2 come to mind) but Jurassic made it real.

That same year, Spielberg made his crowning achievement in Schindler’s List. It was a new look for him; not entertaining yet important. It may have foreshadowed a shift in his work to come. After Schindler, Spielberg begins to make more serious and thought provoking films, and not quite the popular successes of the past.

Another nineties gem came a couple years later in the form of Saving Private Ryan. The first half hour alone changed war films forever, and in a way that is not always considered good.

These three films show a Spielberg theme that is not always listed among his “father-son” and “childlike sense of awe” themes. One could call it the “humanity needs to remember its place” theme. In Jurassic, man tries to create and be God and the typical Frankenstein monster is created almost destroying the wannabe creator. In Schindler, we see the effects of man deciding some people are less than human. In Ryan, we witness the result of what those opposing such ideologies have to go through, and that the cost is almost as great as the danger those ideologies present.

In the end, Spielberg in the nineties begins to show the flip side of his “awe”-some vision. The world is a very broken place.

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