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Best Director nominee Steven Spielberg arrives on the red carpet for the 85th Annual Academy Awards on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Film Journeys

Steven Spielberg

By on July 22, 2016

Once again it’s time for Film Journeys and this in this journey we’re taking a look at the directorial career of Steven Spielberg.

He’s perhaps one of the most well-known film directors and has amassed a hugely impressive list of credits, with almost 60 film as director and nearly 160 as producer! Whilst he is not the only prolific Hollywood director, crucially he is perhaps one of the most successful. His gross total for ticket sales, (as of early July, 2016), of all his films put together – adjusted for inflation – is a tad over the $9 billion mark. That’s just US ticket sales; that’s not worldwide! 

Still from "The B.F.G." (2016) Disney.

Still from “The B.F.G.” (2016) Disney.

FILM 1: THE B.F.G. (2016)

Out on general release in UK cinemas from today is the big-screen adaption of Roald Dahl’s THE B.F.G. (which, just incase you weren’t sure, stands for ‘The Big Friendly Giant’). Despite this being a beloved childhood tale that, I’m sure most people know; here is a brief synopsis: A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.

The film stars one of our most accomplished stage actors, Mark Rylance, as the BFG and new-comer Ruby Barnhill as little Sophie.

 

See the trailer below:

It’s a lovely film, and Rylance is, as always, superb in it. Go take your kids, then buy them the book.

Steven Spielberg with 'Bruce' the clearly menacing star of JAWS (1975). [ Universal Pictures ]

Steven Spielberg with ‘Bruce’ the clearly menacing star of JAWS (1975). [ Universal Pictures ]

FILM 2: JAWS (1975)

This movie is the ‘classic you’ll love to revisit’JAWS form 1975. Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfus star in this still terrifying tale of a shark hell bent on attacking a small town in America on Independence Day weekend. The three play a police chief, a grizzled old fisherman and a marine scientist respectively and their performances are so good that, despite a varied body of work from all three, these roles are still very closely associated with each actor.

The production was a fairly troubled one, with sinking boats, quarrelling stars, alcoholic actors and a massive fake shark that didn’t work at all. Despite all of that, the film was phenomenally successful and was the definitive springboard for launching Steven Spielberg’s career. It is now considered the first ‘summer blockbuster’.

It was, of course, yet another collaboration with musical maestro John Williams. When Williams first played the now infamous JAWS theme, Spielberg laughed and said “That’s funny John … now what have you really got for the theme of the shark”. Spielberg was later quoted as saying that the theme for the shark was ’50% of the reason the film worked’ and that if Williams hadn’t come up with that iconic motif, the film wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful as it was.

Still from "The Adventures Of Tintin" (2011) [ Columbia Pictures / Paramount Pictures ]

Still from “The Adventures Of Tintin” (2011) [ Columbia Pictures / Paramount Pictures ]

FILM 3: THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011)

Our final film, for now, is one you may have heard of, but probably didn’t get around to seeing; THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, from 2011. It is the story of intrepid reporter Tintin and his whiskey-loving, friend Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor.

Although this could be categorised as just a ‘family film’ it actually does an amazing job at capturing the essence of the Tintin comic books and so, if you used to read them as a child, I feel sure you would enjoy this movie.

The film was probably considered by many as ‘an animated film’ too, and whilst, yes, this is an animated film – it wasn’t created using more traditional animation methods; this was based on the performance of actors using motion-caption technology, (where they wear those funny suits with the little ping pong balls on them). Something that director Speilberg had little to no experience of.

We mentioned that JAWS was a difficult shoot for Spielberg, well when questioned about the difficulties of using motion capture the man himself had this to say…

 

“The problems today usual are less technical problems … the problems continue to be the same problem: getting the script right and getting the right cast” (Steven Spielberg, interviewed in 2011).

…And Spielberg has definitely done both with this film. Tintin is played by Jamie Bell, (the boy from BILLY ELLIOT), Captain Haddock is played with brilliant comic timing by Andy Serkis, (of Gollum fame), and Daniel Craig is on ‘villain’ duty.

It’s a great film, very well made and, if you like Tintin in book form, I can guarantee you’ll like this.

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

  • Jurassic Park
  • Schindler’s List
  • Hook
  • Indiana Jones
  • E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
  • Duel
  • Empire Of The Sun
  • The Colour Purple
  • Bridge Of Spies
  • War Horse
  • Lincoln
  • War Of The Worlds
  • The Terminal
  • Catch Me If You can
  • Minority Report
  • A.I.
  • Saving Private Ryan

 

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September 23, 2016

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