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Paul Joannides, 10 January 1983

... after Jaws, Close Encounters, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Poltergeist – by the wunderkind Steven Spielberg, a film so effectively pre-sold that distributors were fretting over revenue lost to pirate video well before the British opening, a film that had a Venice Film Festival audience cheering and received a standing ovation in London – E.T. is ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Lincoln’, 20 December 2012

... There’s a lot of waiting in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln: for news, for a decision, for a vote, for an opinion, for the end of the Civil War. Not much happens during the waiting. People articulate positions, let us know what they stand for. Lincoln himself doesn’t say much. He listens, does quite a bit of walking off down lonely corridors, plays with his small son, gets periodic barrages of abuse from his wife ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: HBO, 10 June 2010

... in Britain and elsewhere, as the television event of the year. Produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg at a cost of more than $200 million, it was filmed in pretty gruelling conditions in Australia with a cast of hundreds, aiming to capture the story of America’s war in the Pacific. Nine of the ten episodes have now been shown, and the time ...

Star Warrior

John Sutherland, 6 October 1983

Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas 
by Dale Pollock.
Elm Tree, 304 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 241 11034 3
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Olaf Stapledon: A Man Divided 
by Leslie Fiedler.
Oxford, 236 pp., £17.50, June 1983, 0 19 503086 9
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... production cost of $750,000. Raiders of the Lost Ark (conceived and produced by Lucas, directed by Steven Spielberg) has taken $335m at the box-office (production cost $22.8m) and looks set to run in first-release theatres for as long as The Sound of Music. Lucasfilm Inc., the merchandising branch of Lucas’s empire, has turned over some $2bn from ...

Flavr of the Month

Daniel Kevles, 19 August 1993

Perilous Knowledge: The Human Genome Project and its Implications 
by Tom Wilkie.
Faber, 195 pp., £14.99, May 1993, 0 571 16423 4
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The Language of the Genes: Biology, History and the Evolutionary Future 
by Steve Jones.
HarperCollins, 236 pp., £16.99, June 1993, 0 00 255020 2
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... seems to trouble the public more than genetic engineering. Despite the cloying sentimentality that Steven Spielberg has introduced into Jurassic Park, the film expresses the sharp scepticism about the benefits of manipulating DNA that forms the moral core of the novel by Michael Crichton on which it is based. In the novel, Ian Malcolm, the conscience of ...

At Dulwich Picture Gallery

Peter Campbell: Norman Rockwell, 20 January 2011

... his covers but the drawing, both characterless and competent, reads as a task not a pleasure. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas admire and collect the paintings – not surprising, since they work in the same genres. Their films, like Rockwell covers, deal in constructed worlds and multiple sources. ‘Charwomen in Theater ...

Magician behind Bars

Michael Rogin: David Mamet in a Cul de Sac, 2 July 1998

The Old Religion 
by David Mamet.
Faber, 194 pp., £9.99, May 1998, 0 571 19260 2
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... a recent comment by a Dreamworks executive that the relations between the company’s co-owners, Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, had ‘David Mamet overtones’. Increasingly, Mamet has extended his interest in the confidence games that made his reputation to a search for the pure victim of these games. Leo Frank is not the only ...

Monkey Sandwiches

Robert McCrum, 20 October 1983

The Vanishing Hitchhiker: Urban Legends and their Meanings 
by Jan Harold Brunvand.
Picador, 156 pp., £1.95, April 1983, 9780330269506
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... nuclear parents, sex-starved executives, bored housewives. The urban legend is to folklore what Steven Spielberg is to the Brothers Grimm. Brunvand does not make with sufficient force the point that not only are these tales repeated as true but the storytellers themselves will find it almost impossible to accept that their narrative is apocryphal and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘De Palma’, 20 October 2016

... everything but Al,’ De Palma says, so he played with multiplying camera angles for the climax. Steven Spielberg stopped by and suggested a few more viewpoints to shoot from, and the killing went on and on. De Palma’s pleasure in telling this story, along with the lurid clips that accompany it, make you think again about his ideas on film and ...

You know who

Jasper Rees, 4 August 1994

Jim Henson – The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination 
by Christopher Finch.
Aurum, 251 pp., £20, April 1994, 1 85410 296 6
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... contemporary purveyors of special effects, because puppetry is an essentially cumbersome skill. Steven Spielberg chose to use computer graphics to get his dinosaurs on the move, rather than put himself at the mercy of so much less manoeuvrable three-dimensional models. All you can say for Henson is that the physical parameters which hampered him when ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: David Lean, 3 July 2008

... of Cecil B. DeMille with taste, imperial godfather to the Star Wars movies and much of the work of Steven Spielberg. There is nothing wrong with this evocation except that it invites us to forget Lean’s earlier, quieter or darker films, which notably include Brief Encounter (1945), a black and grey masterpiece, and Oliver Twist (1948), an extraordinary ...


J. Hoberman: Did the Jews invent Hollywood?, 7 March 2002

Hollywood and Anti-Semitism: A Cultural History up to World War Two 
by Steven Alan Carr.
Cambridge, 342 pp., £42.50, July 2001, 9780521798549
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... anti-capitalist, anti-Communist or anti-American. That, at any rate, is the argument of Steven Alan Carr’s Hollywood and Anti-Semitism, an impressively researched and closely reasoned cultural history, which takes up its theme in 1880, 25 years before the appearance of the first nickelodeons, and pursues it through to the US entry into World War ...


Colin McGinn: A Philosopher in LA, 4 September 1986

... Oz). One evening in Westwood Village, after seeing Scorsese’s film The King of Comedy, I noticed Steven Spielberg coralled by rain in the cinema foyer, preferring multiple recognition to getting wet on his way to the parking lot. Sunday jogging between the smoggy carriage-ways of San Vicente came to a halt, which must have been a relief to the ...

Pink and Bare

Bee Wilson: Nicole Kidman, 8 February 2007

Nicole Kidman 
by David Thomson.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp., £18.99, September 2006, 0 7475 7710 2
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... they needn’t waste their time asking if she believed in witchcraft. Thomson compares this with Steven Spielberg, who hired ‘a reliable UFO expert’ to advise him when making Close Encounters of the Third Kind. ‘And some asked Spielberg if he believed in unidentified flying objects. No, he replied, but I believe ...

How a desire for profit led to the invention of race

Eric Foner: Slavery, 4 February 1999

Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America 
by Ira Berlin.
Harvard, 512 pp., £18.50, October 1998, 0 674 81092 9
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The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern 1492-1800 
by Robin Blackburn.
Verso, 602 pp., £15, April 1998, 1 85984 890 7
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... in which slavery, for both races, seems little more than an occasion for a prolonged party. When Steven Spielberg tried recently to update the celluloid portrayal of slavery, he chose to do so via the Amistad case, which involved not American slaves but Africans who seized control of a Spanish slave ship. The rebels ended up in the United States, but ...

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