2017
Steven Spielberg’s The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara, an adaptation of the 1997 book by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Kertzer, tells the story of a young Jewish boy in Bologna, Italy in 1858.

After having been secretly baptized, he is forcibly taken from his family to be raised as a Christian. His parents’ struggle to free their son becomes a pivotal event in the collapse of the Vatican as a secular power and an example of how a single human fate changed the course of history.

Mark Rylance stars as Pope Pius IX. This is his third collaboration with Spielberg – having won the Best Supporting Oscar for Bridge Of Spies (2015) and portrayed the title character in The BFG (2016). The cast is joined by Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

The Bridge Of Spies producing team of Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger serve as producers.

The screenplay is written by Tony Kushner who also penned the scripts for Munich (2005) and Lincoln (2012). He gave a copy of David Kertzer’s book to Steven Spielberg who read it twice and was convinced it would make a great movie.

The Amblin Entertainment production is slated for early 2017 – when Ready Player One will have wrapped – with an intended release in the fourth quarter of 2017, a perfect slot for awards season…

Steven Spielberg has often released double-salvos of films in one year. Now he seems to turn into a kind of “Woody Allen”, bringing out one film per year: Bridge of Spies in 2015, The BFG in 2016, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara in 2017, Ready Player One in 2018, and Indiana Jones 5 in 2019.

Artwork: © Amblin Entertainment

2011
Steven Spielberg
’s touching World War I drama War Horse is based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s novel of the same name. The film is produced by Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, with executive producers Frank Marshall and Revel Guest.

Michael Morpurgo tries to adapt his book into a film screenplay, working for over five years, but nothing comes out of it. However, the novel is successfully adapted for a stage play by Nick Stafford in 2007. The film cannot be told solely through the horse’s viewpoint (as in the book), so most of the film is based on the narrative approach of the stage play. Unlike the play, which features puppet horses, the film uses real horses as well as practical effects (and extremely limited computer-generated imagery).

In 2009, film producer Kathleen Kennedy attends the stage play in London’s West End and tells Spielberg about it. Eventually DreamWorks acquires the film rights to the book. Spielberg goes to see the stage play in early 2010 and meets some of the London cast, admitting to being moved to tears by their performance.

DreamWorks executive Stacey Snider suggests Richard Curtis to work on rewrites for the drafts that Michael Morpurgo and Lee Hall have turned in. Curtis produces more than a dozen drafts in three months, working closely with Spielberg who is set to produce the film. Excited by the results, Spielberg finally decides to also direct – while he is waiting for the animations of his other 2011-release film, The Adventures of Tintin, to be completed.

After having hundreds of young boys read for the lead role, resulting in some speculation, that Eddie Redmayne might have been cast for it, Spielberg chooses relatively unknown stage actor Jeremy Irvine instead, describing his performance as “very natural, very authentic.” It is his first film role, and he has never ridden a horse prior to War Horse.

The film’s brilliant cast includes British, French and German actors (playing characters of their respective nationalities), among them Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Marsan, Toby Kebbell, David Kross, and Peter Mullan. Robert Emms, lead actor in the London stage play, is cast as David Lyons. In addition to the main cast, some 5,800 extras are used in the film. Michael Morpurgo can be seen in a cameo role at the auction – as he is visiting the set several times.

Principal photography lasts for about 64 days, beginning with the cavalry charge, where the British cavalry, 130 horses in total and many hundreds of extras, charge the German machine gun lines. It is is filmed at Stratfield Saye House in north Hampshire, and results in one of the most devastating war sequences directed by Spielberg.

As Jeremy Irvine remembers: 

“It was terrifying. The smoke and the smell and the taste of the guns firing. It’s not difficult to act scared in that situation. There’s no doubt this was deliberate: not only to have the film look great, but to have that effect on the actors. It was an eye-opening scene.”

Tom Hiddleston recalls Spielberg’s advice: 

“He said, ‘Give me your war face, and the camera’s going to move across, and as you feel it come up in front of you, I want you to de-age yourself by 20 years. So you’re 29, and when you see those machine guns, you’re 9 years old. I want to see the child in you.’ And I just thought that was one of the most astonishing acting notes I’d ever been given.“ 

Emily Watson also praises Spielberg’s directing: 

"On set, he’d come in, in the morning, and say, ‘I couldn’t sleep last night. I was worrying about this shot!’ Which was great! He’s human and he’s still working in an impassioned way, like a 21-year-old, trying to make the best out of everything.”

When Kathleen Kennedy sends Spielberg photographs of the various countryside locations she has scouted for him, he decides to cut other elements of the story to enable more filming in Dartmoor, Devon. Spielberg: “I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor.”

After working on James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), production designer Rick Carter, Spielberg’s long-term collaborator, joins the War Horse crew. This time, he does not have to create a new reality, but rather to take a living landscape and make it as much a character in the film as any human being – or horse.

The famous horse’s image from the final scene, shot against the saturated red sky, looks like a nod to epics like Gone With the Wind (1939), but according to cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, the resemblance is unconscious: "I didn’t even know there was an image similar to that!” Kamiński acknowledges that he used John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) as a template for his exterior filming, paying particular attention to Ford’s panoramic sky, landscape and terrain.

After having directed six films with World War II themes, Spielberg tackles his first film dealing with World War I. Sequences in the barbed wire trenches recall World War I classics such as Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957).

During filming, fourteen different horses are used as the main
horse character Joey, eight of them portraying him as an adult animal,
four as a colt and two as foals. Up to 280 horses are used in a
single scene. An animatronic horse is used for some parts of the scenes where Joey is trapped in barbed wire (the wire is rubber prop wire). Working with horses – on this scale – is new to Spielberg

“When I’m on an Indy movie, I’m watching Indiana Jones, not the horse he is riding … Suddenly I’m faced with the challenge of making a movie where I not only had to watch the horse, I had to compel the audience to watch it along with me. I had to pay attention to what it was doing and understand its feelings. It was a whole new experience for me.”

Michael Kahn edits War Horse during
filming
in his trailer on set. Kahn and Spielberg cut the scenes digitally on an Avid, rather than on film.

Visual effects for the film are created by London-based company Framestore. According to Spielberg, the film’s only digital effects are three shots lasting three seconds, which were undertaken to ensure the safety of the horse: “That’s the thing I’m most proud of. Everything you see on screen really happened.”

Spielberg comments on the film score composed by John Williams: “I feel that John has made a special gift to me of this music,
which was inspired not only by my film but also by many of the
picturesque settings of the poet William Wordsworth, whose vivid
descriptions of the British landscape inspired much of what you are
going to hear.”

The film opens to positive reviews, with Roger
Ebert
saying the film contains
“surely some of the best footage Spielberg has ever directed”. He writes: “The film is made with superb artistry. Spielberg is the master of an
awesome canvas. Most people will enjoy it, as I did." 

War Horse is a financial success, grossing $177 million worldwide (against a budget of $66 million). The film receives six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture – winning none.

2011
Steven Spielberg
’s cutting-edge computer-animated film The Adventures of Tintin (aka
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn) is a
photorealistic 3D cartoon based on Hergé’s famous
comics series
.

It’s the first time Spielberg directs an animated film, and it’s his first 3D movie.

Spielberg
discovers Hergé’s comics when Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) is compared
to them, and he manages to obtain the cinematic rights. Hergé writes the following note about Spielberg: “If anyone can bring Tintin successfully to the screen, it is this young American film director…”.  

However, conflicting schedules cause the project
to be delayed until the late 2000’s when DreamWorks renews Spielberg’s option
for the film rights.

The Adventures of Tintin is produced by
Peter Jackson, whose visual effects company Weta Digital provides the
computer animation. It is based on three of Hergé’s albums: The Crab
with the Golden Claws
(1941), The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), and Red
Rackham’s Treasure
(1944). The screenplay is written by Steven Moffat,
Edgar Wright
and Joe Cornish. Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh also
contribute to the script.

The cast includes
Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg who
lend their voices and portray their characters via motion-performance. For
Tintin’s dog Snowy, a dog’s motion is captured digitally, so the
animators have inspiration for realistic movements. His vocal effects
are taken from various breeds of dogs (unlike the comics, cinematic
Snowy has no voice).

Filming is due to begin in
October 2008 for a 2010 release. This plan deteriorates when Universal
opts out of co-producing the film with Paramount, and Sony steps in. The
delay results in Thomas Sangster, who is originally cast as Tintin,
departing from the project. As his replacement Peter Jackson suggests
Jamie Bell
, having cast him as Jimmy in his remake of King Kong (2005).

In
a partnership which Spielberg describes as “doing a crossword puzzle
with a friend,”
Peter Jackson convinces Spielberg “not to do Tintin in
live-action”
as it would not do justice to the comic books and opts for
motion capture as the best way of representing Hergé’s world of Tintin.

In 2006, a demo is shot on the stage that is used by James Cameron for
Avatar (2009). The test involves Andy Serkis as Haddock and Peter
Jackson standing in for Tintin. James Cameron and Robert Zemeckis are
present during the shoot. Weta Digital produce a twenty-minute test reel
successfully demonstrating a photorealistic depiction of the
characters.

Starting on January 26th 2009,
Spielberg completes principal photography after 32 days, with other
directors such as Guillermo del Toro, Stephen Daldry and David Fincher
visiting the set. Peter Jackson is present for the first week and
supervises the rest of the shoot via  customized iChat
videoconferencing. Spielberg treats the film like live-action, doing a
lot of his own camera work
, noting: “Every movie I made, up until
Tintin, I always kept one eye closed when I’ve been framing a shot,”

because he wants to see the movie in 2-D, the way viewers would. “On
Tintin, I have both of my eyes open.”
Spielberg finishes six weeks of
additional motion-capture filming in mid-July 2009.

Loyalty to the original concept is key to Spielberg’s approach, the
characters’s look and personalities painstakingly matched to their comic
counterparts. This is apparent right from the film’s stylish title
sequence
and the first scene that features a painter who looks a lot like Hergé and draws Tintin’s portrait in Herge’s style. Spielberg describes working on this film as “feeling
artistic and painterly”
. Fittingly, the movie starts with a closeup of a
painter’s palette.

Jackson supervises Weta Digital during post-production, with
Spielberg attached via video conferencing. Director of Photography
Janusz Kamiński serves as lighting consultant for Weta, contributing to
the “film-noirish, very atmospheric” look of Tintin. To improve the
quality of the indoor lighting nuances, Weta Digital and NVIDIA develop
the ray tracing software application PantaRay, which requires 100 to
1000 times more computation than traditional shadow-map based solutions.
Post production is completed on September 2011.

When working
with Spielberg, Michael Kahn has always edited his movies on a Moviola and KEM, but for Tintin, he cuts digitally using Avid.

John
Williams
composes a mindboggling score for his first animated film.
Most of it is written while the animation process is still in the early
stages, with Williams attempting to employ “the old Disney technique of
doing music first and have the animators trying to follow what the music
is doing”.
Eventually several of his cues have to be revised when the
film is edited. Williams employs various musical styles, with “1920s,
1930s European jazz”
for the opening credits, or “pirate music” for the
battle at sea. American opera singer and soprano Renée Fleming provides
the singing voice of Bianca Castafiore, performing a section of Romeo et
Juliette
.

The film is released on the 30th
anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark
. Its world
première
takes place on 22 October 2011 in Brussels, followed by
subsequent releases in European countries on 26 October 2011, and in the
USA on 21 December 2011, in Digital 3D and IMAX.

The
Adventures of Tintin
grosses over $373 million against a budget of $135
million, earning considerably more outside the US (where Hergé’s comics
are virtually unknown). It receives positive reviews from critics,
being compared to Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). It is the
first non-Pixar animated film to win the
Golden Globe Award for Best
Animated Feature Film. John Williams is nominated for an Academy Award
for Best Original Score.

Producer Peter
Jackson intends to direct a sequel
, with Spielberg serving as producer.
Spielberg and Jackson also hope to co-direct a third film.

In
his fascinating analysis of the Tintin film, Paul Bullock focuses on
Spielberg’s use of his core visual motifs (light, reflection
and the idea of seeing) and how they reflect three of his key themes:
emotional development, heritage and community.

2005
Steven Spielberg
’s political thriller Munich follows a squad of Mossad assassins as they track down and kill alleged supporters of the group Black September, which is responsible for the kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

Eric Bana stars as the leader of the assassins group, Avner Kaufman. The international cast includes actors such as Ciarán Hinds, Omar Metwally, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zurer, Gila Almagor, Karim Saleh, Ziad Adwan, Moritz Bleibtreu, and Meret Becker. The film also stars a future James Bond actor (Daniel Craig) plus actors of a former (Michael Lonsdale) and a later (Mathieu Amalric) Bond villain.

The role of Ephraim (played by Geoffrey Rush) is originally intended for Ben Kingsley but he has to opt out due to a reshoot of Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal (2004) which causes the start of the production for Munich to be pushed back a few weeks later, thus conflicting with Kingsley’s work schedule on Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist (2005).

After six years of preparation, Spielberg directs his most ambitious project since Schindler ’s List, fully aware that he is risking his reputation as a filmmaker and his capital of mass audience appeal, but determined to speak his mind on a subject that deeply concerns him. In his portrayal about the opening days of the perpetual cycle of terror-styled violence between Israelis and Palestinians, he does his best to tell the story in an unbiased manner, giving both a voice and condemning the deadly attacks on both sides. 

The screenplay, written by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, is based on George Jonas’ controversial book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team (published in 1984), after Producer Kathleen Kennedy brought the book to Spielberg’s attention. After acquiring the film rights, Spielberg commissions three scripts: one from David Webb Peoples and Janet Peoples, one from Charles Randolph, and one from Eric Roth, eventually selecting Roth’s script which is revised by Tony Kushner. In order to clarify that the film is a dramatization of historic and fictional events it begins with an opening title saying “Inspired by real events“.

Spielberg asserts that many people would have felt more comfortable if he made a film that said all targeted assassinations are a bad or a good thing:

"But the movie doesn’t take either of those positions. It refuses to. Many of those pundits on the left and right would love the film to land somewhere definite. It puts a real burden on the audience to figure out for themselves how they feel about these issues. There are no easy answers to the most complex story of the last 50 years. (…) What I’m trying to say is, if this movie bothers you, frightens you, upsets you, maybe it’s not a good idea to ignore that. Maybe you need to think about why you’re having that reaction.”

As Spielberg puts it, there are “unintended consequences“ in everything that has to do with violence, and in his film he depicts the growing disproportions of the counterterrorism response. The assassins’ futile attempts at minimizing collateral damage and the deaths of innocents is summed up in a Hitchcock-inspired sequence (videoclip) where the team must coordinate the bombing of a target in Paris without killing the man’s wife and child: A truck obscures the car holding the Mossad assassins, preventing them from seeing the man’s daughter return and pick up the rigged phone meant to kill her father. This time, they barely manage to deactivate the trigger, though once the girl leaves again, they set off the explosive without compunction. It’s a brief show of moral superiority to terrorists who put civilians in harm’s way, but it doesn’t last. Similar to Schindler’s List, Spielberg uses the little girl (again dressed in red) as a metaphor, representing the people that are accidentally killed during the mission.

According to Spielberg, Munich is “the most European film I have ever made“, drawing inspiration from classics such as Costa-Gavras’ Z (1969), Fred Zinnemann’s The Day of the Jackal (1973), and William Friedkin’s The French Connection (1971). Director of Photography, Janusz Kamiński applies the long lenses and zooms as well as the colors typical for that period of film. Kamiński on the notorious sex scene featuring Eric Bana, intercut with the murder of Israeli Olympic athletes as he orgasms: “It’s almost over-the-top to some degree, right?” (…) “It’s not a delicate little scene,” Kaminski says. “It is what it is, and [Spielberg] wanted to take this chance because it reflected the movie: his anger, his primal fear, his primal desire to be alive.” And his feeling of trauma and guilt that strips him of his own humanity in service of a dubious “an eye for an eye” scheme…

Spielberg calls Munich his Prayer for Peace, exploring his conflicts and concerns about how a nation should respond to terrorist attacks. By depicting the Twin Towers of the New York World Trade Center in the film’s final shot, Spielberg links Munich’s subtext to the present, i.e. the US government’s response to the 9/11 attacks, with Spielberg questioning it as excessive and a potential trigger for another perpetual cycle of terror in the Middle East.

The time span between the start of production to the film’s release date is less than six months. Principal photography takes place in Malta, Budapest, Paris, New York, and Munich. In order to finish the film on time, Michael Kahn edits all of the scenes shot in Malta and Hungary on the spot. Each day Spielberg reviews an edited scene that has been shot two days earlier. Two copies of the edited material are sent out, one to John Williams as reference for his composition and the other to Ben Burtt for sound effects. The Paris and New York scenes are edited two weeks after wrapping, and the final cut is completed after another two weeks.

The film’s mournful atmosphere and melancholy between both the Israelis and Palestinians is interpreted by John Williams’ magnificent score, sharing musical themes across cultures, with restrained beauty and subtle instrumentation.

The film is a critical success but is also one of Spielberg’s lowest-grossing films, earning $130.4 million at the worldwide box office (against a budget of $70 million). Conservative circles in Israel and the US attack Munich for what they call the film’s equating the Israeli assassins with “terrorists”. The heated discussion results in the depiction of Spielberg’s face on the covers of Time magazine, Germany’s DER SPIEGEL and other international media.

Munich receives five Academy Awards nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Spielberg), Best Adapted Screenplay (Kushner and Roth), Best Film Editing (Michael Kahn) and Best Original Score (John Williams), winning none.

In his review, Roger Ebert concludes: “With this film [Spielberg] has dramatically opened a wider dialogue, helping to make the inarguable into the debatable.“ 

Ian Nathan writes in his review for Empire: Munich is Steven Spielberg’s most difficult film. It arrives already inflamed by controversy… This is Spielberg operating at his peak — an exceptionally made, provocative and vital film for our times.“

Munich concludes Spielberg’s 2005 double salvo of films which can both be read as parables on the nation’s mindset after 9/11.

2002
Catch Me If You Can
, “the true story of a real fake“: 15 years after Empire of the Sun (1987), Spielberg once again tells the story of a young man who loses his childlike innocence due to traumatic circumstances. It deals with Spielbergian themes of dysfunctional families, absent fathers and troubled childhoods.

The screenplay, written by Jeff Nathanson, is based on Frank Abagnale’s memoirs who, after his parents separate, runs away to Manhattan to start his "career” as one of the world’s most wanted con artists – cashing millions of dollars in fraudulent checks in 26 countries before his 19th birthday, by impersonating a Pan Am pilot, pediatrician, and legal prosecutor.

The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks; the excellent cast also includes Christopher Walken, Amy Adams, Martin Sheen, Nathalie Baye, Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Garner, Frank John Hughes, and Ellen Pompeo.

Spielberg’s breezily told, touching and profound film is done in the New Hollywood tradition of anti-establishment stories, with “anti-heroes” such as Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid turning out to be smarter and ultimately more sympathetic than the sheriffs and detectives that are hot on their heels. It is set in an era when women wore cocktail dresses and men wore hats and ties all the time – a period when transactions were done on a handshake and Kennedy’s optimistic phrase “To the Moon!” was coined. As Spielberg explains,

“Frank was a 21st century genius working within the innocence of the mid ‘60s, when people were more trusting than they are now. I don’t think this is the kind of movie where somebody could say, ‘I have a career plan.’“

The origins of the film go back to 1977, when Abagnale writes his autobiography after his performance in Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. A year later he sells the film rights, but the story remains in "turnaround” at several studios. At the time, Dustin Hoffman is considered for the lead role. Twenty years later, the rights are sold to DreamWorks. Over time, David Fincher, Lasse Hallström, Miloš Forman, and Cameron Crowe are considered as candidates for director. When Leonardo DiCaprio joins the project he wants to do the film with Gore Verbinsky directing but Verbinski drops out because DiCaprio has to do reshoots for Martin Scorsese’s troubled film Gangs of New York (2003). DiCaprio turns to Steven Spielberg, who finally decides to direct himself, dropping projects such as Big Fish and Memoirs of a Geisha

On Spielberg’s request, Tom Hanks is cast for the role of FBI inspector Carl Hanratty, replacing James Gandolfini. The search for Brenda Strong’s portrayer goes on for months before Amy Adams is eventually cast. Producer Walter F. Parkes comments that she is “as fresh and honest as anyone we’d seen”. Christopher Walken delivers a mesmerizing performance. Spielberg insists on a French actress for the part of Paula Abagnale to stay true to the story, so he asks his friend Brian De Palma (who lives in Paris) to do tests with French actresses; Spielberg decides to cast Nathalie Baye who played the script girl Joëlle in Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night (1973). When Spielberg sees Jennifer Garner on the TV series Alias, he offers her the part of the call girl Cheryl Ann, in a scene that is shot in just one day.

Filming of the more than 180 scenes is completed in only 52 days, taking place in 147 different locations in Los Angeles, New York and Montreal. According to DiCaprio, “Scenes that we thought would take three days took an afternoon”.

For Director of Photography Janusz Kamiński, the film marks a distinct stylistic departure from the grim historical events or sci-fi dystopias in Spielberg’s previous projects. His photography is very straightforward, with no major CG work or other tricks involved. During the scenes of the 60s, the lighting style is very warm, but when we enter the 70s, he tries to make the images flatter and uglier by placing the light source closer to the camera. Kamiński on his “quick and dirty” approach to shoot the film:

“This film is less ‘Spielberg’ than some of his other movies. Steven was very relaxed and interested in working with the actors, and because we were working so fast there was often not enough time to give him a traditional look. There are gorgeously lit scenes in the film, but there are also scenes that, well, just don’t look as good! Once we lit we just had to go with it. I love that method.“

Spielberg takes the opportunity to incorporate several references to (and even clips from) the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964) which was en vogue during that time but is not mentioned in Abagnale’s biography.

The fascinating, Saul Bass-inspired opening title sequence is created by Olivier Kuntzel and Florence Deygas. The “stamp style animation” lasts about 2 minutes 30 seconds and features silhouettes of the main characters acting out the plot, with the Spielberg-typical meteor shower added for fun. It is followed by excerpts from the 1977 episode of the television game show To Tell the Truth that featured Frank Abagnale – with DiCaprio digitally transplanted.

Catch Me If You Can is a critical success, and the real Abagnale reacts positively to it. Abagnale can be seen in a cameo as the French Policeman when Frank is arrested. In another cameo, Max Spielberg can be seen sitting behind DiCaprio during both parts of the airplane scene.

Grossing a worldwide total of $352.1 million, the film is extremely profitable, recouping its $52 million budget six times over. 2002 is a great year for Spielberg, delivering a double salvo of two successful films, Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can.

Film critic James Berardinelli concludes Catch Me if You Can never takes itself or its subjects too seriously, and contains more genuinely funny material than about 90% of the so-called ‘comedies’ found in multiplexes these days". He praises John Williams’ film score as “more intimate and jazzy than his usual material, evoking (intentionally) Henry Mancini”.

Fellow director Guillermo del Toro calls Catch Me If You Can “a masterpiece of timing and grace. Fluid but precise. Built like clockwork and with a huge human heart at its core.”  

Catch Me If You Can is nominated for only two Academy Awards (Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Christopher Walken and Best Music, Original Score for John Williams), winning none. After all, Christopher Walken wins the Screen Actors Guild Award

A Broadway musical adaptation is nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. 

2002
Minority Report
, starring Tom Cruise, is one of the most outstanding film adaptations based on source material written by Philip K. Dick. The cast includes Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Peter Stormare, Jessica Capshaw, Lois Smith, Tim Blake Nelson, and Max von Sydow.

Spielberg expands Philip K. Dick’s short story The Minority Report to a feature-length theatrical film (its running time turns out to be 145 minutes). His greatest challenge, though, is to transform the story which was first published in 1956 into a more contemporary setting that satisfies both connoisseurs of  Philip K. Dick’s short story and the average audience.

The dystopian story is set in Washington DC and deals with the consequences of a law enforcement system called „PreCrime“ that is authorized to arrest and detain people for murders even before they are committed (or not) – based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called Precog”.

Disguised in a captivating mix of film noir, science fiction, thriller and whodunit, Spielberg shares his critical view of current US politics, i.e. the Bush administration’s activities regarding “homeland security“ and Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.

The film’s multilayered themes examine whether free will can exist if the future is set and “known“ in advance, they also scrutinize the role of media when technological advancements make it ubiquitous. According to Spielberg

„The Internet is watching us now. If they want to. They can see what sites you visit. In the future, television will be watching us, and customizing itself to what it knows about us. The thrilling thing is, that will make us feel we’re part of the medium. The scary thing is, we’ll lose our right to privacy. An ad will appear in the air around us, talking directly to us.“

Spielberg’s repeated themes such as media-generated mass paranoia (”Everybody runs”) and dysfunctional families are also present in the film.

Before Spielberg steps in, the project is in „turnaround" for many years. Originally, Ronald Shusett (Alien) plans to adapt Philip K. Dick’s short story for a sequel of Total Recall (1990). In this version, earth’s population has been moved to Mars. Due to poor oxygen supply in the miners’ colonies on Mars, some settlers mutate to the Pre-Cogs from Philip K. Dick’s original. However, the project, with prospective director Jan de Bont attached, is eventually cancelled. Novelist Jon Cohen removes all Total Recall elements from his draft. and submits a rewrite which is set in a retro future, featuring a suburb that looks like straight from the 1950s.

This version comes to Tom Cruise’s attention during the filming of Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Since their first meeting on the set of Risky Business (1983), Cruise has tried to work for a Spielberg film. After Spielberg exits Rain Man (1988), he has to wait even longer. Finally, Spielberg “greenlights“ Minority Report, after Cruise has pitched the draft to him. However, Cruise has to finish Mission Impossible 2 (2000), and Spielberg directs A.I. – Artificial Intelligence (2001), so another two years pass. 

When Spielberg originally signs on to direct, he plans to have an entirely different supporting cast. He offers the role of Witwer to Matt Damon, Iris Hineman to Meryl Streep, Burgess to Ian McKellen, Agatha to Cate Blanchett, and Lara to Jenna Elfman. However, Streep declines the role, Damon opts out, and the other roles are recast due to the delays.

Spielberg makes the best use of the delays and has Scott Frank revise the draft. He scraps most ideas from Cohen’s drafts but keeps the sequence in the car factory, which is based on a concept by Alfred Hitchcock for North by Northwest (1959) which remained unfilmed due to the high production cost. For Minority Report, the sequence is filmed in a real facility using props such as a welding robot and practical effects.

During pre-production, Spielberg invites 15 experts from various disciplines to a three-days “think tank summit” to learn how daily life might look like in 2054. Production designer Alex McDowell (Fight Club) keeps what is nicknamed the “2054 bible”, an 80-page guide listing all the decided upon aspects of the future world: architectural, socio-economical, political, and technological. Some of the film’s technology designs actually become reality (e.g. Multi-touch interfaces, retina scanners, news on tablets and targeted marketing).

For Minority Report, cinematographer Janusz Kamiński creates a unique visual style, shooting the movie with high-speed film, alternating between handheld and Steadicam shots. He utilizes high contrast to create dark colors and shadows (as in film noir) as well as overlit shots with desaturated colors which are achieved by bleach-bypassing the film’s negative in post-production.

The film’s 14 minute opening sequence, depicting a distorted Precog vision of a murder, is the most complex of any Spielberg film and marks a highlight of Michael Kahn’s work as an editor.

Minority Report is the first film to have an entirely digital production design. „Previz" (a term borrowed from the film’s narrative) allows the crew to use Photoshop and 3-D animation programs to create a simulated set, which can be filled with virtual actors to block out shots in advance. Industrial Light & Magic provides most of the stunning visual effects, with DreamWorks-owned PDI responsible for the Spyder robots.

John Williams composes a gripping „black and white score“ taking inspiration from Bernard Herrmann’s work and including film noir elements such as a female singer in the Anne Lively scenes. Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 (commonly known as the Unfinished Symphony) is heard while Anderton “conducts“ his PreCrime investigation, because Anderton is described as a big fan of classical music in the script.

Minority Report is one of the best reviewed films of 2002, being praised for its writing, visuals and themes, but earning some criticism for its „happy end“ which is considered inconsistent (by critics who do not understand the filmmaker’s intention of applying a „false end“ that only exits in the protagonist’s imagination to underline the film’s underlying theme of reality vs. perception).

Roger Ebert calls the film a “masterpiece” and says that when most directors of the period are putting “their trust in technology”, Spielberg has already mastered it, and is emphasizing “story and character” while merely using technology as a “workman uses his tools”.

Produced by Amblin Entertainment and Cruise/Wagner Productions, Minority Report is distributed by 20th Century Fox (North America) and DreamWorks SKG (International) and turns out to be a huge commercial success, earning over $358 million worldwide against an overall budget of $142 million (including advertising).

Minority Report receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Editing, but is otherwise ignored by the Academy

1997
Steven Spielberg
’s historical drama Amistad – his first film released under the banner of DreamWorks SKG – is based on the true story of the 1839 mutiny, led by Joseph Cinque, aboard the slave ship La Amistad. After 53 kidnapped Africans, bound for slavery on a sugar plantation in Cuba, manage to gain control of their captors’ ship, they end up in a U.S. Supreme Court battle over their future. Former U.S. President John Quincy Adams makes an impassioned and eloquent plea for their release.

David Franzoni writes the screenplay which gets a rewrite by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) on Spielberg’s request.

John Quincy Adams is played by Anthony Hopkins after Sean Connery turned down the part. According to Spielberg, some US actors were furious with him for casting a British actor as The President as they felt the role should have gone to an American performer – which does not prevent Spielberg from casting Daniel Day-Lewis, another British actor, to play the US President in Lincoln (2012), another historical drama focussing on African-American history. Hopkins delivers the entire seven page courtroom speech in a single take.

Spielberg casts Djimon Hounsou in the pivotal role of Cinque, after considering more than 150 actors for the part (including Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Cuba Gooding Jr.). In a 10 day crash course, Hounsou learns the tonal language of Mende for the film.

Abolitionist Theodore Joadson, the character portrayed by Morgan Freeman, is a fictional composite of several historical figures – a storytelling technique that Spielberg has also applied to Schindler’s List (1993).

The impressive cast also includes Matthew McConaughey, Nigel Hawthorne, Anna Paquin, Stellan Skarsgård, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Arliss Howard. Harry A. Blackmun (who served as US Supreme Court Justice from 1970 to 1994) plays US Associate Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story.

The driving force behind Amistad is executive producer Debbie Allen. In 1978, Allen stumbles upon a literary journal that tells of the mutiny on La Amistad. However, when pitching the story to Hollywood studios, Allen is discouraged by studio executives, both black and white. No one wants to see a movie about slaves, they tell her. After watching Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993), Allen feels he is the man who could turn Cinque’s story into a compelling film.

Spielberg takes on the challenge of turning the complex historical events around the Amistad uprising into a feature film because he feels that everyone – especially his own children – need to know about the story, so infrequently taught in history class. Spielberg wants to transform a historical footnote into a human drama that transcends time and place. Academics later criticize Amistad for historical inaccuracy and the misleading characterizations of the Amistad case as a “turning point” in the American perspective on slavery.

Principal photography wraps after a mere 48 days. Post-production is done rarely with Spielberg, because he is already working on his next film, Saving Private Ryan (1998). Director of Photography, Janusz Kaminski, avoids the clichés of the historical genre as “the story required photography that was not too pretty. (…) The movie is about a slave rebellion in 1830, so it would have been wrong to apply lighting that conveyed romantic notions.” Spielberg adds: “I didn’t want to bring modern times – which I would equate with long, slick dolly shots – into the nineteenth century.“

Production designer Rick Carter uses the art of Francisco Goya as a primary source for the look of the film. Costume designer Ruth E. Carter dresses hundreds of extras in tattered loincloths while at the same time designing historic wardrobe for lawyers and abolitionists as well as a queen and a president.

In contrast to The Color Purple (which features a score composed by Quincy Jones), Spielberg decides to assign John Williams for the difficult job of creating a score for his second film about an African-American topic. It is the 24th year of their collaboration and their 15h film. Williams delivers a beautiful score with a stirring main theme: The “Dry Your Tears, Africa” adaptation of a 1967 poem is a rousing, victorious song with spoken African vocals.

Amistad receives mainly positive reviews and is nominated for four Academy Awards: Anthony Hopkins for Best Actor in A Supporting Role, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Music.

According to film critic Roger EbertAmistad, like Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, is […] about the ways good men try to work realistically within an evil system to spare a few of its victims. […] Schindler’s List works better as narrative because it is about a risky deception, while Amistad is about the search for a truth that, if found, will be small consolation to the millions of existing slaves. As a result, the movie doesn’t have the emotional charge of Spielberg’s earlier film — or of The Color Purple, which moved me to tears. […] What is most valuable about Amistad is the way it provides faces and names for its African characters, whom the movies so often make into faceless victims.”

Nevertheless, Spielberg’s double salvo (releasing The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Amistad in the same year) does not perform as expected. With an estimated budget of $36 million, Amistad achieves only a small profit, earning ca. $44 million.

Spielberg sums it up: “I kind of dried it out and it became too much of a history lesson.”

1997
Steven Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park
is loosely based on Michael Crichton’s 1995 novel The Lost World (screenplay by David Koepp).

The Lost World ’s plot and imagery is substantially darker than the previous film and features about 50 percent more dinosaur action. For the sequel, Director of Photography Dean Cundey is replaced by Janusz Kaminski who works on his first film that includes computer-generated imagery. Dennis Muren (ILM) encourages him to backlight dinosaurs, e.g. during the complicated
safari sequence that is full of lens flares.

This time, Jeff Goldblum (as Dr. Ian Malcolm) leads the cast that includes Sir Richard Attenborough, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn, Pete Postlethwaite, Peter Stormare and Arliss Howard.

Ian Malcolm gets some great lines to say such as “Mommy is very angry.” or “Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming.”

The story unfolds four years after the events of the original film, and climaxes with a T. rex charging through San Diego. Spielberg suggests the San Diego attack be added to the film story, inspired by a similar scene of a giant dinosaur in London in the 1925 film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel The Lost World. Nevertheless, The Lost World goes to great efforts to teach us that these “monsters” are also protective parents.

Accordingly, Spielberg brings a new twist to his favorite topic of fathers that are estranged from their children: Ian Malcolm actually learns how to become a better father spending time with his daughter Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester), under life-threatening circumstances – a plot device Spielberg will use once more in War of the Worlds (2005).

The story is driven by the motivations of women (human and animal), right from the beginning when little Cathy wanders off into the Isla Sorna’s wilderniss to feed some friendly-looking Compsognathus, before being attacked by them. The 52-seconds long take introducing Cathy and her parents at the beach leading to the match cut from her mother’s scream to yawning Ian Malcolm in front of a travel poster in the NY subway is one of the most sophisticated opening sequences in Spielberg’s career.

For the role of paleontologist Sarah Harding, Spielberg contacts Juliette Binoche (even after she refused to play Dr. Satler in the first installment). She replies she would appear in the film only if she could “play the dinosaur”. The part goes to Julianne Moore instead.

Initially, Joe Johnston lobbies for the director’s job until Spielberg decides to end his sabbatical after Schindler’s List (1993) and direct the sequel himself. In Jurassic Park III (2001), Johnston finally takes over for Spielberg.

Spielberg’s suspense techniques work perfectly well, e.g. when the research trailer is pushed over the edge of a cliff by an enraged T. rex and poor Julianne Moore is stranded on rapidly splintering glass dangling above the abyss.

Overall, the sequel cannot achieve Jurassic Park’s uniqueness. Spielberg confesses that during production he became increasingly
disenchanted with the film: “I found myself saying, ‘Is that all there is? It’s not enough
for me.’”

Nevertheless, The Lost World is a huge box office success (despite mixed reviews), and grosses $618 million worldwide, becoming the second highest grossing film of 1997 behind James Cameron’s Titanic.

Spielberg will cast three actors from The Lost World again: Pete Postlethwaite and Arliss Howard for Amistad (1997) and Peter Stormare for Minority Report (2002).

1993
Like no other film, Schindler’s List changes Spielberg not only as a director, but also as a person. For the first time, Spielberg confronts his Jewish identity and the Holocaust in one of his films. What Spielberg always feared in the anti-semitic suburbs of his childhood (and beyond) now comes only naturally to him: embracing his Jewish faith.

In his novel Schindler’s Ark, Thomas Keneally tells the story of several Jewish families between 1939 and 1945. They are saved from being murdered in concentration camps by the Sudeten German Oskar Schindler who hires them for “war-critical production” in his Krakow factory. The book is based on interviews with 50 of the 1,200 so-called “Schindler Jews”.

One of them is Leopold “Poldek” Pfefferberg. After the war, he makes it his life’s mission to thank his savior by communicating Schindler’s story to the world. As early as 1963, he tries to produce a biopic, but the project gets cancelled. In 1980, he meets Thomas Keneally and sparks his interest to write a book about Schindler. Spielberg later signs Pfefferberg as a consultant for the location shoot in Poland.

When Keneally’s novel is published in 1982 Universal studio boss Sid Sheinberg purchases the film rights for $500,000, with Steven Spielberg attached as director. However, Spielberg hesitates and nearly passes the project over to colleagues such as Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski and Billy Wilder, before he finally takes it into his own hands (encouraged by Billy Wilder). “I didn’t go to work on it right away because I didn’t know how to do it. The story didn’t have the same shape as the films I have made. […] I needed time to mature within myself and develop my own consciousness about the Holocaust.”

Spielberg’s decision to make the film is triggered by the growing media presence of Holocaust deniers and the rise of the neo-Nazi movement after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Spielberg waives his fee as a director and any profit sharing.

Screenwriter Steven Zaillian focuses on Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson) and combines several people to create the figure of Schindler’s accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley). Spielberg adds more stories of Schindler Jews that he is told. “I wanted the story to be less vertical – less a story of just Oskar Schindler, and more of a horizontal approach, taking in the Holocaust as the raison d’être of the whole project. What I really wanted to see was the relationship between Oskar Schindler – the German point of view – and Itzhak Stern – the Jewish point of view. And I wanted to invoke more of the actual stories of the victims […].”

Spielberg avoids simple explanations for Schindler’s motivation to help the Jews, and put at risk his business and his life. He portrays Schindler in an ambigious constellation similar to Faust & Mephistopheles: torn between the life of luxury and liquidation, represented by camp commandant Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), and his human conscience, represented by Itzhak Stern. His accountant eventually helps him to set up the titular list of persons that Schindler signs to work in his factory. Spielberg lets Itzhak Stern speak the famous phrases from the novel that are missing in Zaillian’s screenplay: “This list… is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its cramped margins lies the gulf.“

For the first time, Spielberg works with the Polish-born cinematographer Janusz Kamiński (and continues to do so in all his movies to this date). The two of them develop a cinematic language that has little in common with the techniques of Spielberg’s previous films and instead follows a documentary approach. To emphasize the authenticity of events, large parts of the film are shot with a handheld camera. Spielberg feels “like more of a journalist than a director of this movie. I feel like I’m reporting more than creating. […] I’m sort of interpreting history, trying to find a way of communicating that history to people, but I’m not really using the strengths that I usually use to entertain people.” „The authenticity of the story was too important to fall back on the commercial techniques that had gotten me a certain reputation in the area of craft and polish.“

Spielberg insists to shoot the film in black and white and categorically rejects advances by the studio to shoot the film on color negative (for a potential release of a color version). “The Holocaust was life without light. For me the symbol of life is color. That’s why a film about the Holocaust has to be black-and-white.“ In front of the black and white ghetto scenes, Spielberg can effectively employ his concept of the girl in a red coat: here, it is a symbol for life, but shortly after, Schindler and the audience discover the girl on a pile of corpses. The girl is a cipher, representing approximately 6 million murdered Jews.

Unlike Jurassic Park, the film he has finished just three months before, Spielberg directs Schindler’s List spontaneously – like in a fever – and abstains from using storyboards, creating up to 40 shots per day (the film wraps 4 days ahead of schedule). Some ideas emerge only a few hours before the shooting or on the film set. Amidst principal photography, Spielberg conceives a new epilogue in which we see the actual survivors together with their performers – building a bridge between past and present, reality and film.

Before the credits roll, Spielberg dedicates his film to Steve Ross. The philanthropist and CEO of Warner Communications has inspired Spielberg during the development of the film character Oskar Schindler: “Steve Ross gave me more insights into Schindler than anybody I’ve ever known. […] Before I shot the movie, I sent Liam all my home movies of Steve. I said, „Study his walk, study his manner, get to know him real well, because that’s who this guy is“. Ross supports Spielberg as mentor and – like Itzhak Stern – helps to turn a non-political showman into a mensch who is committed to contribute to a better world.

During the 72-day location shoot in Poland, Spielberg is drained physically, and pushed to the limits of his emotional strength. Kate Capshaw and his children rent a house near the set for the duration of filming, so they can give him support. Robin Williams calls Spielberg on a regular basis in order to cheer him up.

For Schindler’s List, film composer John Williams collaborates with famous violinist Itzhak Perlman (with whom he worked on the 1971 film adaptation of the musical Fiddler on the Roof). Williams creates a mournful score that remains one of his most cherished accomplishments. “When he showed me Schindler’s List,” says Williams, “I was so moved I
could barely speak. I remember saying to him, ‘Steven, you need a better
composer than I am to do this film.’ And he said, ‘I know, but they’re
all dead.’ ”

At the film’s release, the critics response is almost unanimously enthusiastic. Filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Lanzmann and Michael Haneke accuse Spielberg of using Hollywood techniques to depict the Shoah.

At the Academy Awards, Schindler’s List receives 12 nominations and is awarded in the categories Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. This is Spielberg’s first Oscar for Best Director. Brilliant actors Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are nominated, but go away empty-handed.

No one expects the enormous audience appeal of the more than three-hour black and white film. At a budget of $22 million Schindler’s List grosses more than $320 million worldwide. All proceeds from the film are used for the Shoah Foundation. It is founded by Spielberg with the goal of providing an archive for the filmed testimony of as many survivors of the Holocaust as possible.

1993
Spielberg directs two films in the same year. The first is Schindler’s List, in Spielberg’s own words his “most significant film”. The second is Jurassic Park, a groundbreaking movie full of wonder, thrills and adventure, which Spielberg describes as a mere “good sequel to Jaws, on land”.

Spielberg plans to shoot Schindler’s List first but MCA president Sid Sheinberg greenlights the Holocaust film on the condition that Spielberg makes Jurassic Park first. As Spielberg explains: “He knew that once I had directed Schindler I wouldn’t be able to do Jurassic Park.” Sheinberg’s decision forces Spielberg to supervise Jurassic Park’s post production via satellite hook-up while he is already shooting Schindler’s List in Poland.

Jurassic Park is based on Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel about a wildlife park on a remote tropical island featuring cloned dinosaurs. In a fierce bidding war, Universal buys the film rights for $1.5 million plus a percentage of the film’s gross receipts and pays Crichton another $500,000 for a first draft screenplay (compare Peter Benchley who received only $150,000 for the film rights to his novel Jaws plus $25,000 for a first draft script).

Crichton’s draft gets a rewrite by Malia Scotch Marmo (Hook) who tries to merge the characters of Grant and Malcolm – a film adaptation technique also used by Steven Zaillian for his Schindler’s List script. When David Koepp is brought in to write the final screenplay, Scotch Marmo’s idea of merging Grant and Malcolm is (luckily) dropped.

On Spielberg’s request, Koepp introduces significant changes to the novel such as the animated “pre-show” presented by Mr. DNA, a young female computer nerd and a “heroic” return of the T. rex in the film’s climax. Park creator John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough) is not portrayed as the book’s one-dimensional villain but as a flamboyant Walt Disney-type dreamer who is obsessed with showmanship – similar to Spielberg. Paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) is given more presence than in the novel, and paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill, replacing Spielberg’s original choice Harrison Ford) is allowed more character development: His discomfort with children eventually dissolves when “life finds a way” and T. rex & co. threaten the lives of Hammond’s grandchildren. They all have to get off the island before the park succumbs to chaos as predicted by mathematician Ian Malcolm (brilliantly performed by Jeff Goldblum). Unlike in the novel, Malcolm and Hammond survive, and Malcolm gets a lot more sarcastic one-liners to say, such as this: “If The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”

Spielberg not only enhances the book’s cardboard protagonists for his film, he even adds character to the dinosaurs. As Paul Bullock elaborates in his profound e-book analysis, Jurassic Park is much more than a triumph of technical expertise or an escape from reality, it is an “escape with reality”. Below the thrilling surface of his film, Spielberg wants to teach his audience the virtues of humility before nature over scientific arrogance as well as each one’s responsibility to act and help others (a topic Schindler’s List deals with more in detail). In his more ambiguous comment on the era of blockbusters, Spielberg depicts a store stuffed with merchandise that is actually available after the film’s release.

Contrasting worlds of lush landscapes and sterile high-tech environments are created by cinematographer Dean Cundey, with the help of production designer Rick Carter who is working on a Spielberg-directed film for the first time.

Fay Wray gets invited to the set and advises young actress Ariana Richards (Lex) on how to scream like hell. 

image

Fay Wray, sitting in center, lead actress from the original King Kong (1933), which is a huge inspiration for Jurassic Park, Also in the photo (left to right): Michael Crichton, Kathleen Kennedy, Stan Winston and Steven Spielberg. Photo: © The Making of Jurassic Park (Don Shay, Ballantine Books 1993)

Thanks to heavy use of storyboards and meticulous preparation by producers Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen, principal photography wraps after 98 days, 12 days ahead of schedule at a budget of $63 million (less than what was spent on Hook). Quite an achievement, considering the location was hit by Iniki, the most powerful hurricane to hit Hawaii in recorded history. While cast and crew spends a day in the shelter of their hotel, Spielberg kills time by telling ghost stories to the kids.

Steven Spielberg directing scenes on the Jurassic Park set.

Originally, Steven Spielberg wants to employ go-motion animated dino miniatures from Phil Tippett combined in post-production with larger animatronic dinosaurs constructed by special make-up effects creator Stan Winston. But then ILM visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren tells Spielberg about new CGI technologies and says he might be able to create dinos in the computer. When Muren shows Spielberg and Tippett a first CGI animatic of the Tyrannosaurus chasing a herd of Gallimimus, Spielberg says to Tippet, “You’re out of a job,” to which he replies, “Don’t you mean extinct?” Spielberg lets both the animatic and this dialogue write into the script (as a conversation between Malcolm and Grant).

The Tyrannosaurus’ roars are created by Gary Rydstrom as a combination of dog, penguin, tiger, alligator, and elephant sounds (inspired by the way sound designer Ben Burtt created alien “languages” and sound effects for Star Wars).

John Williams delivers one of the most beautiful (and memorable) scores of his career.

Jurassic Park receives widespread critical acclaim and three Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing. It grosses over $900 million worldwide and is the highest grossing film directed by Spielberg, his third “All Time Box Office” champion, replacing Spielberg’s own E.T. – The Extraterrestrial.

Today, Jurassic Park still holds 17th place (adjusted for inflation) and spawns three sequels, one of it directed by Steven Spielberg (The Lost World: Jurassic Park). Spielberg’s net worth gains $250 million through the first Jurassic Park movie alone. 

An animated TV series based on Jurassic Park’s events and characters is cancelled during pre-production when Spielberg objects for undisclosed reasons.