Fanny and Alexander wins Ingmar Bergman his third Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
Fanny and Alexander wins Ingmar Bergman his third Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
Ridley Scott’s visionary film Blade Runner does not convince critics and audiences when it premieres but over time evolves into cult status. The screenplay is based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? published in 1968. The movie version combines a battered look & feel with elements from film noir and science fiction.
Harrison Ford is a bounty hunter whose mission is to track down fugitive replicants (humanoid robots) and “retire” them. Rutger Hauer’s “Tears in Rain” monologue of a dying replicant is now a part of pop culture. The impressive effects are created by Douglas Trumbull.
Blade Runner’s cyberpunk aesthetics will influence a generation of filmmakers, including Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985).
Twenty years later, Spielberg will follow with his own adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story (Minority Report, 2002) in which he also applies film noir elements. Bio-ethical questions raised in Blade Runner are further developed in Spielberg’s A.I. – Artificial Intelligence (2001).
Falklands War: Reacting to the Argentine’s occupation of the Flakland Islands, Margaret Thatcher sends submarines and warships. The conflict lasts 74 days, it ends with the Argentine surrender and the fall of the military junta.
Government crisis in the Federal Republic of Germany: Due to a constructive vote of no confidence Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, in office since 1974, is replaced by Helmut Kohl. Kohl remains elected Chancellor until 1998.
Three 11-year-olds in Mississippi decide to create a shot-for-shot adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). It takes them seven turbulent years. The project seems to stall after two of them have a falling out over a girl, but they reunite 33 years later to finally finish the childhood dream.
In 2016, Drafthouse Films acquires the worldwide rights to the documentary Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made and announces a theatrical release in summer 2016, followed by various VOD, digital platform, Blu-ray, and DVD releases.
Makes me think about our own Indiana Jones Fan Film Trailer shot in 1984 on glorious Super 8 film. You can watch it below.
Maybe, they can put it on their bonus DVD? 🙂
Read more about our fan trailer.
Spielberg buys an original “Rosebud” sled that was used as a prop for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941).
In Cannes, award-winning director Wim Wenders mounts a camera at the Hotel Martinez – for the documentary Room 666.
He asks some directors to enter the room one by one, talk to the camera and speculate on the future of cinema. Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Steven Spielberg are among the directors selected by Wenders.
Poltergeist (written and produced by Steven Spielberg): The suburban home of a young family is
besieged by evil spirits and little Carol Anne is kidnapped by them. The
family must hold together to get her back.
“E.T. is my personal resurrection, and Poltergeist is my personal nightmare.“ – “Poltergeist is about the darker side of my nature – it’s me when I was scaring my younger sisters half to death when we were growing up.”
His story centers around the TV set – it is seen at the very beginning of the movie, several times in between and at the end, always exerting a strange attraction to
Carol Anne. As she hears ghostly voices coming from the screen, she exclaims:
“They are here!” This quote makes some impact on audiences worldwide.
A clause in his contract with Universal prevents Spielberg from directing another movie during pre-production of E.T. – The Extraterrestrial. So he chooses Tobe
Hooper as the director of Poltergeist, but keeps most creative
reins in his hands. In effect, Spielberg is “directing” the film, so we consider Poltergeist a Spielberg-directed film.
Spielberg explains the nature of his collaboration with Tobe Hooper:
“Tobe isn’t… a take-charge sort of guy. If a question was asked and an answer
wasn’t immediately forthcoming, I’d jump in and say what we could do.
Tobe would nod agreement, and that become the process of collaboration.”
The result is a captivating thrill ride, not only due to the movie’s intense shock and horror moments, but its comic relief – crucial ingredients
that made Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) such a success. Poltergeist is not like structurally conservative horror movies (which tend to
restore the status quo), since its “imploding” house sequence forces the familiy to begin a different life.
Spielberg’s sense of Zeitgeist is reflected by the environmental issues that he incorporates in his story (as well as in E.T.). The sprawling of monotonous suburbs (Phase I-IV) and their effect on nature is expressed in the fictitious city’s name:
Cuesta Verde (Spanish for: “It costs Green”).
The movie showcases an ensemble of brilliant actors, best of all Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne, JoBeth Williams as
Diane and Zelda Rubinstein as the medium Tangina.
impressive: ILM’s optical effects, excellent photography by Matthew F.
Leonetti and a fantastic score by Jerry Goldsmith (jumping in for John
Williams who is already busy composing the music for E.T.).
However, Poltergeist earns only three Oscar nominations for Best Music, Visual effects and Sound Editing.
Poltergeist cannot attract the range of E.T.’s family audience (due to its splatter scenes), nevertheless it proves to be extremely
profitable. Compared to its relatively small budget of $ 10.7 million,
it makes $ 80 million in the US alone.
Until now, two sequels and a remake titled Poltergeist (2015) have been made – all of them without Spielberg’s involvement.
“The Spielberg Summer” (TIME Magazine): For the first time, Spielberg launches two successful movies in one year, underlining his reputation for blockbuster film events. E. T. – The Extra Terrestrial and Poltergeist are filmed back-to-back and released with only one week apart.
Both films are moderately budgeted, but draw crowds all over the world.
Like Disney and Hitchcock before him, Spielberg is now an
internationally known “brand” for highly entertaining mainstream films. Spielberg will repeatedly apply his “double salvo”, with varying degrees of success.
In E. T. – The Extra Terrestrial and Poltergeist, Spielberg
translates experiences and emotions from his childhood into
different movies: a fairytale and a spine-chiller: “Poltergeist is what I fear and E.T. is what I love. One is about suburban evil, and the other is about suburban good.”
E.T. – The Extraterrestrial: In his most personal film to date, Spielberg portrays children as an imaginative and important group of society – in short: a beacon of hope. In E.T., children set an example by practicing what was only indicated at the end of Close Encounters (1977): peaceful coexistence of creatures who come from different worlds with different views.
Spielberg shoots his film from a children’s eye level and shows adults only from the waist down. Beneath the surface of a seemingly simple story the movie tells us about the – sometimes painful – process of growing up and touches issues such as government surveillance and increasing environmental problems, a topic that is also addressed in Poltergeist (1982).
Screenwriter Melissa Mathison visits her then-boyfriend Harrison Ford in Tunisia, on the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Steven Spielberg intends to make his next movie more intimate and closer to his heart, with a plot inspired by his suburban childhood. During shooting breaks he shares his ideas with Mathison and persuades her to write the script. In just eight weeks, she delivers a draft called E.T. and Me. As Spielberg recalls:
“Melissa delivered this 107-page first draft to me and I read it in about an hour. I was just knocked out. It was a script I was willing to shoot the next day. It was so honest, and Melissa’s voice made a direct connection with my heart.”
The script goes through two more drafts in which a couple of scenes are removed while others are added, such as the famous chase sequence at the end of the film, and the hilarious scene where E.T. gets drunk.
Spielberg sums up his thoughts on E.T.:
“I don’t like picking a favorite of my films, because it’s kind of like saying you have a favorite child. The most significant film I’ve made is
Schindler’s List, but the most personal film I’ve made is E.T. It’s now
become a cliche to say that a movie is for the child in all of us. But I
think that E.T. is for the people we are, the people we have been, and
the people we want to be again.”
wanted to tell the story of a lonely boy in a relationship with
siblings, and I also wanted to tell the story of the divorce of my
parents. Elliott’s not me – but yes, he’s the closest thing to my
experience in life, growing up in suburbia. […] The house in E.T. is
very much like the house I was raised in. That’s my bedroom!”
The famous alien is brought to life by Carlo Rambaldi in the form of a mechanical puppet (in some cases, little people act in an E.T. costume). Sound designer Ben Burtt creates E.T.’s croaking voice by experimenting with voice recordings of (among others) Pat Welsh, Debra Winger and Spielberg himself.
For the first time, Spielberg waives his beloved storyboards and shoots most of the scenes chronologically in order to encourage the child actors to improvise. As a result, Drew Barrymore as Gertie and Henry Thomas as Elliott play the roles of their lives.
In an extended version of the school sequence, Elliott can be seen furiously drawing
space communicator circuitry across a classroom wall until he is stopped
by Melissa Mathison as the school nurse who brings him to the faceless principal played by Harrison Ford. These scenes unfortunately end up on the cutting room floor.
Phrases like “E. T. phone home” and poetic images such as the flying bike in front of the full moon (brilliantly photographed by Allen Daviau) are now a part of global culture. Spielberg selects the image of the moon for the logo of his film production company, Amblin Entertainment.
In the “All Time Box Office”, E.T. moves to No. 1 and replaces Spielberg’s own Jaws (1975). Today, E.T. is still on No. 4 (adjusted for inflation). Despite the enormous financial success Spielberg rejects all offers to do a sequel.
Spielberg is invited by President Ronald Reagan to attend a private E.T. screening at the White House. Parts of the film industry resent Spielberg for his alleged proximity to Reagan.
At the world premiere in Cannes, François Truffaut sits in the audience. He sends Spielberg a telegram with the message “You belong here more than me” – a phrase from Spielberg’s pen, written for Truffaut’s role as Lacombe in Close Encounters expressing his admiration for the childlike mind of Roy Neary.
Variety praises E.T. as the “best Disney film Disney never made“.
However, the film’s melodramatic intensity polarizes audiences and critics. Some reject E.T. for the same reasons that fans appreciate.
At the Academy Awards ceremony, E.T. is nominated in nine categories (including Best Picture, Director, Photography, Editing, Screenplay) and receives four Oscars for Best Music (John Williams), Special effects and Sound Effects Editing. In all other categories, the film loses against another peace-loving outsider: Gandhi.
In reply, Spielberg casts Gandhi actor Ben Kingsley in Schindler’s List (1993), Gandhi director Richard Attenborough in Jurassic Park (1993) and Gandhi’s supporting actors Amrish Puri and Roshan Seth in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).