Steven Spielberg delivers a thought-provoking speech at Harvard University and once again proves to be highly entertaining – even from behind the lectern.

Read the transcript

The list of previous
Commencement Day Speakers

is quite impressive…


Bryan Cranston
plays President Lyndon B. Johnson in All The Way, directed by Emmy Award-winning Jay Roach. The stage-to-tv adaptation is produced for HBO by Amblin Television, Tale Told Productions and Moon Shot Entertainment, with Steven Spielberg, Darryl Frank & Justin Falvey, Robert Schenkkan and Bryan Cranston executive producing.

All the Way is based on Robert Schenkkan’s play of the same name and follows Johnson’s ascension to the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It depicts his efforts to maneuver members of the 88th United States Congress to enact, and civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King, Jr. to support, the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Anthony Mackie co-stars as Martin Luther King Jr. Also starring are Melissa Leo as Lady Bird Johnson and Bradley Whitford as Hubert Humphrey.

For his portrayal of Lyndon B. Johnson, Bryan Cranston has won a Tony Award in 2014. He has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in Trumbo (2015) which was also directed by Jay Roach. Cranston is best-known for his roles as “Walter White” on the AMC drama series, Breaking Bad (2008), for which he has won four consecutive Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy Awards.

According to Variety, Cranston didn’t hesitate when the offer to adapt All the Way came in from HBO because the lesson of the play, about the moral and political courage it took Johnson to push forward on the Civil Rights Act in 1964, was so vital: “We could now reach millions more and tell this important story by way of HBO.”

Production designer Sir Ken Adam dies at 95.

The five-time Academy Award nominee and two-time winner worked on more than 70 films. He created iconic set designs for the 007 franchise – including Dr. No’s secret island complex, Fort Knox in Goldfinger (1964) and a giant rocket base inside a volcano featured in You Only Live Twice (1967), for which Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay.

In the late 1970s, he also conceived the supertanker set for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) – for which he received an Oscar nomination – and a futuristic space station for Moonraker (1979), his last Bond film. The lighting for the super tanker set was supervised in secret by Stanley Kubrick (videoclip).

Ken Adam designed the famous War Room for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964) and collaborated with him again on Barry Lyndon (1975), for which he earned his first Oscar. He received his second Academy Award for The Madness of King George (1994).

Although Ken Adam never worked for Steven Spielberg (a big fan of the 007 series and Kubrick’s films), Adam had fond memories of the biggest compliment he ever received:

“I was in the States giving a lecture to the Directors Guild when Steven Spielberg came up to me. He said ‘Ken, that War Room set for Strangelove is the best set you ever designed’. Five minutes later he came back and said ‘no it’s the best set that’s ever been designed’.”

Klaus Hugo Adam was born in Berlin. When the National Socialist party came to power in Germany, Adam had to emigrate with his Jewish family
to England in 1934. He attended University College London and Bartlett
School of Architecture

In 2012, Ken Adam gave the entirety of his artistic life’s work to the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin.

Steven Spielberg in 30 Memorable Shots

Director and editor Jacob T. Swinney combines the most iconic shots from all 30 films directed by Steven Spielberg (so far).

This is what he says about his video:

“Before I knew what a director was, I knew who Steven
Spielberg was.  I believe that this is partially due to the fact that
Spielberg has crafted some of the most iconic shots in all of cinema.  
Many filmmakers have that one signature shot that will forever solidify
them in film history–  Spielberg has dozens.  This video showcases the
work of Steven Spielberg in 30 memorable shots, one from each of his
full-length films.  From something as magical as a silhouetted bicycle
streaking across the moon, to something as simple as tiny ripples in a
cup of water, this is Steven Spielberg.”

You can find background info to all the films used in the video here.

Films contained in the video (in order of appearance):
Duel (1971) DoP: Jack A. Marta
The Sugarland Express (1974) DoP: Vilmos Zsigmond
Jaws (1975) DoP: Bill Butler
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) DoP: Vilmos Zsigmond
1941 (1979) DoP: William A. Fraker
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) DoP: Douglas Slocombe
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) DoP: Allen Daviau
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) DoP: Douglas Slocombe
The Color Purple (1985) DoP: Allen Daviau
Empire of the Sun (1987) DoP: Allen Daviau
Always (1989) DoP: Mikael Salomon
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) DoP: Douglas Slocombe
Hook (1991) DoP: Dean Cundey
Jurassic Park (1993) DoP: Dean Cundey
Schindler’s List (1993) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
Amistad (1997) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
Saving Private Ryan (1998) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
Minority Report (2002) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
Catch Me If You Can (2002) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
The Terminal (2004) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
War of the Worlds (2005) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
Munich (2005) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
The Adventures of Tin-Tin (2011) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
War Horse (2011) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
Lincoln (2012) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
Bridge of Spies (2015) DoP: Janusz Kamiński
The BFG (2016) DoP: Janusz Kamiński”

Legendary British cinematographer Douglas Slocombe dies at the age of 103 in a hospital in London. His filmography amounts to 80 movies.

As a newsreel cameraman he films the Nazi invasion of Poland and goes on to work as director of photography on a series of classic British films in the 1940s and 1950s known as the Ealing comedies, including Kind Hearts and Coronets starring Alec Guinness. Later films include The Lion in Winter (1968), Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), Rollerball (1975), and Never Say Never Again (1983).

Slocombe wins three BAFTA award for The Servant (1963), The Great Gatsby (1974), and Julia (1977). He is a three-time Academy Award nominee, including for Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

Before Raiders, Slocombe shoots the acclaimed and technically complex India sequence for Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

When “Dougie” – as Spielberg calls him – is hired for Raiders, he is 68 years old. Harrison Ford claims that Dougie never used a light meter – he just
held up his hand and observed the shadow his thumb made on the palm.

Slocombe continues to work on two more films of the franchise: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), before Janusz Kamiński takes over as DP in the fourth installment.

In 1996, Slocombe receives a lifetime achievement award by the British Society of Cinematographers and is made an OBE in 2008 for services to the film industry.

Steven Spielberg calls Douglas Slocombe “a great collaborator and a beautiful human being”.

“Dougie Slocombe was facile, enthusiastic, and loved the action of
filmmaking. Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones in front of the camera, but
with his whip-smart crew, Dougie was my behind the scenes hero for the
first three Indy movies.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres in Los Angeles. More than 5,000 guests attend the world premiere in all three theaters on Hollywood Blvd.: Dolby Theatre, Chinese Theatre and El Capitan Theatre.

Before the screening, director J.J. Abrams thanks George Lucas, the mastermind behind the Star Wars universe, and his longtime mentor Steven Spielberg. “It is an honor to be here
with you at this incredibly low-key premiere
,” Abrams quips.

Then he speaks directly to Spielberg:

“I owed you everything already
before you lobbied for me to get this movie. Dude, I’m tapped

Abrams thanks the Star Wars crew before bringing the stars onstage. Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford all receive standing ovations.

Celebrity guests attending the premiere include directors Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler, Colin Trevorrow, Edgar Wright, Jon Favreau, and Roland Emmerich.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the 7th installment in the main Star Wars film series. The cast includes Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Simon Pegg and Max von Sydow

J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of the original trilogy films The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), rewrite an initial script by Michael Arndt

George Lucas serves as creative consultant during the film’s early production. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is overseeing production (budget: $245 million). 

John Williams, who created the music for the previous six films, returns to compose the score.

The film breaks many box office records, becoming the highest-grossing installment of the franchise, with a worldwide gross of more than $2 billionStar Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens receives five Academy Award nominations

Two sequels, Episode VIII and Episode IX, will be released in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

Walt Disney Pictures releases first teaser trailer for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming fantasy adventure film The BFG (2016). It’s the first time Spielberg directs a live-action 3D film.

The talents of three of the world’s greatest storytellers – Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg – unite to bring Dahl’s classic children’s book The BFG to life. The screenplay is written by Melissa Mathison who also penned Spielberg’s E.T. – The Extraterrestrial (1982).

The film tells the imaginative story of a young
and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant
Country. The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big
Friendly Giant
and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country, e.g. Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement).
Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he
is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), a precocious
10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious
giant who has brought her to his cave, but comes to realize that
the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a
giant before, has many questions. Sophie and the BFG soon depart for London to see the Queen
(Penelope Wilton) and warn her of the precarious situation, but
they must first convince the Queen and her maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall),
that giants do indeed exist. Together, they set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world.

After his impressive portrayal of Rudolf Abel in Bridge of Spies (2015), Mark Rylance once again plays a major role in a Steven Spielberg film. Principal photography for The BFG begins just three months after Bridge of Spies wraps.

Filming locations are: Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada), Blenheim Palace, Woodstock (Oxfordshire, United Kingdom), Buckingham Palace, Westminster (London, United Kingdom), Skye, Highland (Scotland, United Kingdom).

The film’s score is composed by John Williams. Other regular Spielberg-collaborators are: Director of Photography Janusz Kamiński, Editor Michael Kahn, as well as producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy. The stunning visual effects are created by Weta Digital.

The film is a co-production between Walt Disney Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, and Walden Media

Release dates

Melissa Mathison dies at 65.

By writing her Oscar-nominated screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial (1982) she did the groundwork for one of the most beloved film classics of all time – also serving as associate producer.

Mathison wrote screenplays for Carroll Ballard’s The Black Stallion (1979), Caleb Deschanel’s The Escape Artist (1982), the second segment in Steven Spielberg’s Twilight Zone – The Movie (1983), the TV film Son of the Morning Star (1991), and Frank OzThe Indian in the Cupboard (1995). Mathison had a particular feeling for children’s literature, telling stories about children who she portrayed as sensitively heroic.

She recently reunited with Steven Spielberg to write the screenplay for the Roald Dahl adaptation The BFG (2016) which is currently in post-production. After hearing of her death, Spielberg says in a statement:

“Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave E.T.”

On the 2002 DVD special edition, Spielberg describes her contribution:

“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.”

Mathison explains:

“I would write for four or five days in my little office in Hollywood, and then drive out to Marina Del Rey where Steven Spielberg was editing in a little apartment on the beach. I’d bring him my pages and we’d sit and go through them…It took about eight weeks for us to get the first draft, which was quite fast, I think.”

Her screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s Kundun (1997), a movie about the Dalai Lama’s childhood and growth into a young man, reflected her decades-long interest in Tibet. With the help of Richard Gere, a supporter of Tibetan causes, she and Harrison Ford met with the Dalai Lama in Santa Barbara in 1990. She later pitched the notion of a film based on his early years.

Mathison was born on June 3, 1950 in Los Angeles and attended U.C. Berkeley. She interrupted her studies in political science for a job in the movies with a family friend. The friend was Francis Ford Coppola, whose children she used to baby sit. Mathison became his assistant on the set of The Godfather, Part II (1974). After Coppola urged her to write, she came up with her script for The Black Stallion (1979).

She had two children, Georgia and Malcolm, from her marriage to actor Harrison Ford. They divorced in 2004 after a 21-year marriage. From 1983 to 1985, Mathison, Ford and their children lived on a 700-acre ranch outside Jackson Hole, Wyo., where the screenwriter put her career on hold.

“I didn’t want to be missing their childhood while I was away, busy writing about children.”