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Steven Allan Spielberg KBE (born December 18, 1946) is an American film director, screenwriter, and film producer. In a career of over four decades, Spielberg's films have touched on many themes and genres. Spielberg's early sci-fi and adventure films, sometimes centering on children, were seen as an archetype of modern Hollywoodmarker blockbuster filmmaking. In later years his films began addressing such issues as The Holocaust, slavery, war and terrorism.

Spielberg won the Academy Award for Best Director for 1993's Schindler's List and 1998's Saving Private Ryan. Three of Spielberg's films, Jaws (1975), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Jurassic Park (1993), broke box office records, each becoming the highest-grossing film made at the time. To date, the unadjusted gross of all Spielberg-directed films exceeds $8.5 billion worldwide. Forbes magazine places Spielberg's personal net worth at $3.0 billion. In 2006, Premiere listed him as the most powerful and influential figure in the motion picture industry. Time listed him as one of the 100 Most Important People of the Century. At the end of the twentieth century, Life named him the most influential person of his generation.

Early life

Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Jewish parents Leah Adler, a restaurateur and concert pianist, and Arnold Spielberg, an electrical engineer involved in the development of computers. He spent his childhood in Haddon Township, New Jerseymarker and Scottsdale, Arizonamarker, an upscale suburb of Phoenixmarker. Throughout his early teens, Spielberg made amateur 8 mm "adventure" films with his friends, the first of which he shot at the Pinnacle Peak Patio restaurant in Scottsdale. He charged admission (25 cents) to his home films (which involved the wrecks he staged with his Lionel train set) while his sister sold popcorn.

He became a Boy Scout and in 1958, he fulfilled a requirement for the photography merit badge by making a nine-minute 8 mm film entitled The Last Gunfight. Spielberg recalled years later to a magazine interviewer, "My dad's still camera was broken, so I asked the scoutmaster if I could tell a story with my father's movie camera. He said yes, and I got an idea to do a Western. I made it and got my merit badge. That was how it all started." At age 13, Spielberg won a prize for a 40-minute war film he titled "Escape to Nowhere." In 1963, at age 16, Spielberg wrote and directed his first independent film, a 140-minute science fiction adventure called Firelight (which would later inspire Close Encounters). The film, which had a budget of US$500, was shown in his local cinema and generated a profit of $1. He also made several WWII films inspired by his father's war stories.

After his parents divorced, he moved to Saratogamarker, Californiamarker with his father. His three sisters and mother remained in Arizona, where he attended Passover Seders at the home of Zalman and Pearl Segal on an annual basis. Although he attended Arcadia High Schoolmarker in Phoenix, Arizona for three years, Spielberg ended up graduating from Saratoga High Schoolmarker in Saratogamarker, California in 1965. It was during this time Spielberg attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

After moving to California, he applied to attend the film school at University of Southern Californiamarker School of Theater, Film and Television three separate times, but was unsuccessful due to his C grade average. He attended California State University, Long Beachmarker. While attending Long Beach State in the 1960s, Spielberg became member of Theta Chi Fraternity. His actual career began when he returned to Universal Studios as an unpaid, seven-day-a-week intern and guest of the editing department. After Spielberg became famous, USC awarded him an honorary degree in 1994, and in 1996 he became a trustee of the university. In 2002, thirty-five years after starting college, Spielberg finished his degree via independent projects at CSULBmarker, and was awarded a B.A. in Film Production and Electronic Arts with an option in Film/Video Production.

As an intern and guest of Universal Studios, Spielberg made his first short film for theatrical release, the 24 minute film Amblin' in 1968. After Sidney Sheinberg, then the vice-president of production for Universal's TV arm, saw the film, Spielberg became the youngest director ever to be signed for a long-term deal with a major Hollywood studio (Universal). He dropped out of Long Beach State in 1969 to take up the television director contract at Universal Studios and began his career as a professional director. In 1969, Variety announced that Spielberg would direct his first full length film, Malcolm Winkler, written by Claudia Salter, produced by John Orland, with Frank Price being the executive producer. However, because of the difficulty in casting the key male role, the film was not made.

During his early life, Spielberg suffered from numerous acts of anti-Semitic prejudice. He later said, "I was embarrassed, I was self-conscious, I was always aware I stood out because of my Jewishness." He also said, "In high school, I got smacked and kicked around. Two bloody noses. It was horrible."


Early career (1968–1975)

His first professional TV job came when he was hired to do one of the segments for the 1969 pilot episode of Night Gallery. The segment, "Eyes," starred Joan Crawford , and she and Spielberg were reportedly close friends until her death. The episode is unusual in his body of work, in that the camerawork is more highly stylized than his later, more "mature" films. After this, and an episode of Marcus Welby, M.D., Spielberg got his first feature-length assignment: an episode of The Name of the Game called "L.A. 2017." This futuristic science fiction episode impressed Universal Studios and they signed him to a short contract. He did another segment on Night Gallery and did some work for shows such as Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law and The Psychiatrist before landing the first series episode of Columbo (previous episodes were actually TV films).

Based on the strength of his work, Universal signed Spielberg to do four TV films. The first was a Richard Matheson adaptation called Duel about a monstrous tanker truck which tries to run a small car off the road. Special praise of this film by the influential British critic Dilys Powell was highly significant to Spielberg's career. Another TV film (Something Evil) was made and released to capitalize on the popularity of The Exorcist, then a major best-selling book which had not yet been released as a film. He fulfilled his contract by directing the TV film length pilot of a show called Savage, starring Martin Landau. Spielberg's debut theatrical feature film was The Sugarland Express, about a married couple who are chased by police as the couple tries to regain custody of their baby. Spielberg's cinematography for the police chase was praised by reviewers, and The Hollywood Reporter stated that "a major new director is on the horizon." However, the film fared poorly at the box office and received a limited release.

Studio producers Richard Zanuck and David Brown offered Spielberg the director's chair for Jaws, a horror film based on the Peter Benchley novel about an enormous killer-shark. Spielberg has often referred to the grueling shoot as his professional crucible. Despite the film's ultimate, enormous success, it was nearly shut down due to delays and budget over-runs.

But Spielberg persevered and finished the film. It was an enormous hit, winning three Academy Awards (for editing, original score and sound) and grossing $470,653,000 worldwide at the box office. It also set the domestic record for box office gross, leading to what the press described as "Jawsmania." Jaws made him a household name, as well as one of America's youngest multi-millionaires, and allowed Spielberg a great deal of autonomy for his future projects. It was nominated for Best Picture and featured Spielberg's first of three collaborations with actor Richard Dreyfuss.

Mainstream breakthrough (1975–1994)

Rejecting offers to direct Jaws 2, King Kong and Superman, Spielberg and actor Richard Dreyfuss re-convened to work on a film about UFOs, which became Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). One of the rare films both written and directed by Spielberg, Close Encounters was a critical and box office hit, giving Spielberg his first Best Director nomination from the Academy as well as earning six other Academy Awards nominations. It won Oscars in two categories (Cinematography, Vilmos Zsigmond, and a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing, Frank E. Warner). This second blockbuster helped to secure Spielberg's rise. His next film, 1941, a big-budgeted World War II farce wasn't nearly as successful and though it grossed over $92.4 million dollars worldwide (and did make a small profit for co-producing studios Columbia and Universal) it was seen as a disappointment, mainly with the critics. It has since become a cult classic thanks to television showings and home video releases.

Spielberg then revisited his Close Encounters project and, with financial backing from Columbia Pictures, released Close Encounters: The Special Edition in 1980. For this, Spielberg fixed some of the flaws he thought impeded the original 1977 version of the film and also, at the behest of Columbia, and as a condition of Spielberg revising the film, shot additional footage showing the audience the interior of the mothership seen at the end of the film (a decision Spielberg would later regret as he felt the interior of the mothership should have remained a mystery). Nevertheless, the re-release was a moderate success, while the 2001 DVD release of the film restored the original ending.

Next, Spielberg teamed with Star Wars creator and friend George Lucas on an action adventure film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first of the Indiana Jones films. The archaeologist and adventurer hero Indiana Jones was played by Harrison Ford (whom Lucas had previously cast in his Star Wars films as Han Solo). The film was considered a homage to the cliffhanger serials of the Golden Age of Hollywood. It became the biggest film at the box office in 1981, and the recipient of numerous Oscar nominations including Best Director (Spielberg's second nomination) and Best Picture (the second Spielberg film to be nominated for Best Picture). Raiders is still considered a landmark example of the action genre.

A year later, Spielberg returned to the science fiction genre with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It was the story of a young boy and the alien whom he befriends, who was accidentally left behind by his people and is trying to get back home to outer space. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial went on to become the top-grossing film of all time. E.T. was also nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

Between 1982 and 1985, Spielberg produced three high-grossing films: Poltergeist (for which he also co-wrote the screenplay), a big-screen adaptation of The Twilight Zone (for which he directed the segment "Kick The Can"), and The Goonies (Spielberg, executive producer, also wrote the story on which the screenplay was based).

His next directorial feature was the Raiders prequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Teaming up once again with Lucas and Ford, the film was plagued with uncertainty for the material and script. This film and the Spielberg-produced Gremlins led to the creation of the PG-13 rating due to the high level of violence in films targeted at younger audiences. In spite of this, Temple of Doom is rated PG by the MPAA, even though it is the darkest and, possibly, most violent "Indy" film yet. Nonetheless, the film was still a huge blockbuster hit in 1984. It was on this project that Spielberg also met his future wife, actress Kate Capshaw.

In 1985, Spielberg released The Color Purple, an adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, about a generation of empowered African-American women during depression-era America. Starring Whoopi Goldberg and future talk-show superstar Oprah Winfrey, the film was a box office smash and critics hailed Spielberg's successful foray into the dramatic genre. Roger Ebert proclaimed it the best film of the year and later entered it into his Great Films archive. The film received eleven Academy Award nominations, including two for Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. However, much to the surprise of many, Spielberg did not get a Best Director nomination. The Color Purple is the second of two Spielberg films not to be scored by John Williams, the first being Duel.

In 1987, as China began opening to the world, Spielberg shot the first American film in Shanghai since the 1930s, an adaptation of J. G. Ballard's autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun, starring John Malkovich and a young Christian Bale. The film garnered much praise from critics and was nominated for several Oscars, but did not yield substantial box office revenues. Reviewer Andrew Sarris called it the best film of the year and later included it among the best films of the decade.

After two forays into more serious dramatic films, Spielberg then directed the third Indiana Jones film, 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Once again teaming up with Lucas and Ford, Spielberg also cast actor Sean Connery in a supporting role as Indy's father. The film earned generally positive reviews and was another box office success, becoming the highest grossing film worldwide that year; its total box office receipts even topped those of Tim Burton's much-anticipated film Batman, which had been the bigger hit domestically. Also in 1989, he re-united with actor Richard Dreyfuss for the romantic comedy-drama Always, about a daredevil pilot who extinguishes forest fires. Spielberg's first romantic film, Always was only a moderate success and had mixed reviews.

In 1991, Spielberg directed Hook, about a middle-aged Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams, who returns to Neverland. Despite innumerable rewrites and creative changes coupled with mixed reviews, the film made over $300 million worldwide (from a $70 million budget).

In 1993, Spielberg returned to the adventure genre with the film version of Michael Crichton's novel Jurassic Park, about a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs. With revolutionary special effects provided by friend George Lucas's Industrial Light & Magic company, the film would eventually become the highest grossing film of all time (at the worldwide box office) with $914.7 million. This would be the third time that one of Spielberg's films became the highest grossing film ever.

Spielberg's next film, Schindler's List, was based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a man who risked his life to save 1,100 people from The Holocaust. Schindler's List earned Spielberg his first Academy Award for Best Director (it also won Best Picture). With the film a huge success at the box office, Spielberg used the profits to set up the Shoah Foundation, a non-profit organization that archives filmed testimony of the Holocaust survivors. In 1997 the American Film Institute listed it among the 10 Greatest American Films ever Made (#9) which moved up to (#8) when the list was remade in 2007.

Since 1997

Spielberg in 1990
In 1994, Spielberg took a hiatus from directing to spend more time with his family and build his new studio, DreamWorksmarker, with partners Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. In 1997, he helmed the sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park with The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which generated over $832 million worldwide despite mixed reviews, and was the second biggest hit of 1997 behind James Cameron's Titanic (which topped the original Jurassic Park to become the new recordholder for box office receipts).

His next film, Amistad, was based on a true story (like Schindler's List), specifically about an African slave rebellion. Despite decent reviews from critics, it did not do well at the box office. Spielberg released Amistad under DreamWorks Pictures, which issued all of his films from Amistad until Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in May 2008 (see below).

In 1998, Spielberg re-visited Close Encounters yet again, this time for a more definitive 137-minute "Collector's Edition" that puts more emphasis on the original 1977 release, while adding some elements of the previous 1980 "Special Edition," but deleting the latter version's "Mothership Finale," which Spielberg regretted shooting in the first place, feeling it should have remained ambiguous in the minds of viewers.

His next theatrical release in that same year was the World War II film Saving Private Ryan, about a group of U.S. soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) who try to bring home a paratrooper missing in France, whose three brothers were killed in action. The film was a huge box office success, grossing over $481 million worldwide and was the biggest film of the year at the U.S./domestic box office. Spielberg won his second Academy Award for his direction. The film's graphic, realistic depiction of combat violence influenced later war films such as Black Hawk Down and Enemy at the Gates. The film was also the first major hit for DreamWorks, which co-produced the film with Paramount Pictures (as such, it was Spielberg's first release from the latter that was not part of the Indiana Jones series). Later, Spielberg and Hanks presented a TV mini-series based on Stephen Ambrose's book Band of Brothers. The ten-part HBO mini-series follows Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division's 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The series won a number of awards at the Golden Globes and the Emmys.

In 2001, Spielberg filmed fellow director and friend Stanley Kubrick's final project, A.I. Artificial Intelligence which Kubrick was unable to begin during his lifetime. A futuristic film about a humanoid android longing for love, A.I. featured groundbreaking visual effects and a multi-layered, allegorical storyline, adapted by Spielberg himself.

Spielberg and actor Tom Cruise collaborated for the first time for the futuristic neo-noir Minority Report, based upon the sci-fi short story written by Philip K. Dick about a Washington, D.C., police captain who has been foreseen to murder a man he has not yet met. The film received strong reviews with the review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes reporting that 199 out of the 217 reviews they tallied were positive. The film was praised as a futuristic homage to film noir, with its intelligent premise and "whodunit" structure. The film earned over $358 million worldwide. Roger Ebert, who named it the best film of 2002, praised its breathtaking vision of the future as well as for the way Spielberg blended CGI with live-action.

Spielberg's 2002 film Catch Me If You Can is about the daring adventures of a youthful con artist (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). It earned Christopher Walken an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film is known for John Williams' score and its unique title sequence. It was a hit both commercially and critically.

Spielberg collaborated again with Tom Hanks along with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Stanley Tucci in 2004's The Terminal, a warm-hearted comedy about a man of Eastern European descent who is stranded in an airport. It received mixed reviews but performed relatively well at the box office. In 2005, Empire magazine ranked Spielberg number one on a list of the greatest film directors of all time.

Also in 2005, Spielberg directed a modern adaptation of War of the Worlds (a co-production of Paramount and DreamWorks), based on the H. G. Wells book of the same name (Spielberg had been a huge fan of the book and the original 1953 film). It starred Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, and, as with past Spielberg films, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) provided the visual effects. Unlike E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which depicted friendly alien visitors, War of the Worlds featured violent invaders. The film was another huge box office smash, grossing over $591 million worldwide.

Spielberg's film Munich, about the events following the 1972 Munich Massacremarker of Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games, was his second film essaying Jewish relations in the world (the first being Schindler's List). The film is based on Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, a book by Canadian journalist George Jonas The film received strong critical praise, but underperformed at the U.S. and world box-office; it remains one of Spielberg's most controversial films to date. Munich received five Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture, Film Editing, Original Music Score (by John Williams), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director for Spielberg. It was Spielberg's sixth Best Director nomination and fifth Best Picture nomination.

Spielberg directed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which wrapped filming in October 2007 and was released on May 22, 2008. This was his first film not to be released by DreamWorks since 1997. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, and has performed very well in theaters. As of June 30, 2008, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has grossed $315 million domestically, and over $786 million worldwide.

Production credits

Since the mid-1980s Spielberg has increased his role as a film producer. He headed up the production team for several cartoons, including the Warner Brothers hits Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, Toonsylvania, and Freakazoid!, for which he collaborated with Jean MacCurdy and Tom Ruegger. Due to his work on these series, in the official titles, most of them say, "Steven Spielberg presents" as well as making numerous cameos on the shows. Spielberg also produced the Don Bluth animated features, An American Tail and The Land Before Time, which were released by Universal Studios. He also served as one of the executive producers of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and its three related shorts (Tummy Trouble, Roller Coaster Rabbit, Trail Mix-Up), which were all released by Disney, under both the Touchstone Pictures and the Walt Disney Pictures banners. He was furthermore, for a short time, the executive producer of the long-running medical drama ER. In 1989, he brought the concept of The Dig to LucasArts. He contributed with the project from that time to 1995 when the game was released. He also collaborated with software publishers Knowledge Adventure on the multimedia game Steven Spielberg's Director's Chair, which was released in 1996. Spielberg appears, as himself, in the game to direct the player. Spielberg was branded for a Lego Moviemaker kit, the proceeds of which went to the Starbright Foundation.

In 1993, Spielberg acted as executive producer for the highly anticipated television series seaQuest DSV; a science fiction series set "in the near future" starring Roy Scheider (who Spielberg had directed in Jaws) and Jonathan Brandis akin to Star Trek: The Next Generation that aired on Sundays at 8:00 p.m. on NBC. While the first season was moderately successful, the second season did less well. Spielberg's name no longer appeared in the third season and the show was cancelled mid way through the third season.

Spielberg served as an uncredited executive producer on The Haunting, The Prince of Egypt, Shrek, and Evolution. In 2005, he served as a producer of Memoirs of a Geisha, an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Arthur Golden, a film he was previously attached to as director. In 2006 Spielberg co-executive produced with famed filmmaker Robert Zemeckis a CGI children's film called Monster House, marking their first collaboration together since 1990's Back to the Future Part III. He also teamed with Clint Eastwood for the first time in their careers, co-producing Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima with Robert Lorenz and Eastwood himself. He earned his twelfth Academy Award nomination for the latter film as it was nominated for Best Picture. Spielberg served as executive producer for Disturbia and the Transformers live action film with Brian Goldner, an employee of Hasbro. The film was directed by Michael Bay and written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and Spielberg continues to collaborate on the sequels, including Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Other major television series Spielberg produced were Band of Brothers and Taken. He was an executive producer on the critically acclaimed 2005 TV miniseries Into the West which won two Emmy awards, including one for Geoff Zanelli's score.

In 2007, Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett co-produced On the Lot an ill-fated TV reality show about filmmaking.

Acting credits

Steven Spielberg had cameo roles in The Blues Brothers, Gremlins, Vanilla Sky, and Austin Powers in Goldmember, as well as small uncredited cameos in a handful of other films. He also made numerous cameo roles in the Warner Brothers cartoons he produced, such as Animaniacs, and even made reference to some of his films.

Involvement in video games

Other than films, Spielberg has also revealed an interest in video games. In 2005 the director signed with Electronic Arts to collaborate on three games including a currently unnamed action game and a puzzle game for the Wii called Boom Blox. Previously, he was involved in creating the scenario for the adventure game The Dig. He is also the creator of the Medal of Honor series by Electronic Arts. He was also credited in the special thanks section of the 1998 video game Trespasser.

Upcoming projects

Spielberg is planning a motion capture film trilogy based on The Adventures of Tintin, with Peter Jackson. He will direct the first film The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, which will be released by 2011 due to the necessary computer animation, while Jackson will direct the second which Spielberg will produce. The two will co-direct a third. Afterwards, Spielberg is expected to film an Abraham Lincoln biopic, titled Lincoln, starring Liam Neeson, with a script by Tony Kushner. He is also directing and producing the film Interstellar, and adapting Old Boy (with Will Smith), Ghost in the Shell and Chocky.

Another upcoming project is a miniseries which he will produce with Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, titled The Pacific. The miniseries will cost $250 million and will be a 10-part war miniseries in conjunction with the Australian Seven Network. The project is centered on the battles in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Writer Bruce McKenna, who penned several installments of the first miniseries (Band of Brothers), is the head writer. Filming is expected to begin in August 2008 and will continue for a year, with locations mostly in Australia, to include Far North Queenslandmarker, Melbournemarker, and the Northern Territorymarker. Producers have chosen to base the series at Melbourne's Central City Studios. He is also producing two untitled Fox TV series, one focusing on fashion, another on time-travellers from World War II.

He may also work with Spike Lee on adapting the African novel "Things Fall Apart" which was written by Chinua Achebe, with Lee set to direct.

In 19 May 2009 Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King. Spielberg will be involved not only as producer but also as a director.[4441]

In August 2009 it was announced that he is to direct a remake of 1950 James Stewart classic Harvey, the tale of a man who claims his best friend is a giant invisible rabbit.

In August 2009, rumors also appeared suggesting that Spielberg is in active negotiations with Microsoft in a possible deal to take up the Halo Movie based on Stuart Beattie's original script, after 20th Century Fox's dropout from Peter Jackson's project in 2006.

Actor Shia LaBeouf has stated that the director is fascinated by the video game BioShock, suggesting he may become involved in a forthcoming film adaptation .

Director Michael Bay announced that the third Transformers film produced by Spielberg is set to be released in 2011.

He also got the rights to work with Scholastic to do a series of movies based on the bestselling series, The 39 Clues with the first one coming in 2011.


Spielberg's films often deal with several recurring themes. Most of his films deal with ordinary characters searching for or coming in contact with extraordinary beings or finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances. This is especially evident in the Indiana Jones series. In an AFI interview in August 2000 Spielberg commented on his interest in the possibility of extra terrestrial life and how it has influenced some of his films. Spielberg described himself as feeling like an alien during childhood, and his interest came from his father, a science fiction fan, and his opinion that aliens would not travel light years for conquest, but instead curiosity and sharing of knowledge.

A strong consistent theme in his family-friendly work is a childlike, even naĂŻve, sense of wonder and faith, as attested by works such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Hook, and A.I. Artificial Intelligence. According to Warren Buckland, these themes are portrayed through the use of low height camera tracking shots, which have become one of Spielberg's directing trademarks. In the cases when his films include children (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Empire of the Sun, Jurassic Park, etc.), this type of shot is more apparent, but it is also used in films like Munich, Saving Private Ryan, The Terminal, Minority Report, and Amistad. If one views each of his films, one will see this shot utilized by the director, notably the water scenes in Jaws are filmed from the low-angle perspective of someone swimming. Another child oriented theme in Spielberg's films is that of loss of innocence and coming-of-age. In Empire of the Sun, Jim, a well-groomed and spoiled English youth, loses his innocence as he suffers through World War II China. Similarly, in Catch Me If You Can Frank naively and foolishly believes that he can reclaim his shattered family if he accumulates enough money to support them.

The most persistent theme throughout his films is tension in parent-child relationships. Parents (often fathers) are reluctant, absent or ignorant. Peter Banning in Hook starts off in the beginning of the film as a reluctant married-to-his-work parent who through the course of his film regains the respect of his children. The notable absence of Elliott's father in E.T., is the most famous example of this theme. In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, it is revealed that Indy has always had a very strained relationship with his father, who is a professor of medieval literature, as his father always seemed more interested in his work, specifically in his studies of the Holy Grail, than in his own son, although his father does not seem to realize or understand the negative effect that his aloof nature had on Indy (he even believes he was a good father in the sense that he taught his son "self reliance," which is not how Indy saw it). Even Oskar Schindler, from Schindler's List, is reluctant to have a child with his wife. Munichmarker depicts Avner as man away from his wife and newborn daughter. There are of course exceptions; Brody in Jaws is a committed family man, while John Anderton in Minority Report is a shattered man after the disappearance of his son. This theme is arguably the most autobiographical aspect of Spielberg's films, since Spielberg himself was affected by his parents' divorce as a child and by the absence of his father. Furthermore to this theme, protagonists in his films often come from families with divorced parents, most notably E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (protagonist Elliot's mother is divorced) and Catch Me If You Can (Frank Abagnale's mother and father split early on in the film). Little known also is Tim in Jurassic Park (early in the film another, secondary character mentions Tim and Lex's parents' divorce). The family often shown divided is often resolved in the ending as well. Following this theme of reluctant fathers and father figures, Tim looks to Dr. Alan Grant as a father figure. Initially, Dr. Grant is reluctant to return those paternal feelings to Tim . However, by the end of the film, he has changed, and the kids even fall asleep with their heads on his shoulders.

Most of his films are generally optimistic in nature. Critics frequently accuse his films of being overly sentimental, though Spielberg feels it's fine as long as it is disguised. The influence comes from directors Frank Capra and John Ford.


In terms of casting and production itself, Spielberg has a known penchant for working with actors and production members from his previous films. For instance he has cast Richard Dreyfuss in several films: Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Always. Spielberg has also cast Harrison Ford for several of his films from small roles, as the headteacher in a cut scene from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as well as in leading role in the Indiana Jones films. Although Spielberg directed him only once (in Raiders of the Lost Ark, for which he voiced many of the animals), veteran voice actor Frank Welker has lent his voice in a number of productions Spielberg has executively produced from Gremlins to its sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch, as well as The Land Before Time (and lending his voice to its sequels which Spielberg had no involvement in), Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and television shows such as Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and SeaQuest DSV. Recently Spielberg has used the actor Tom Hanks on several occasions and has cast him in Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, and The Terminal. Spielberg also has collaborated with Tom Cruise twice on Minority Report and War of the Worlds. Spielberg has also cast Shia LaBeouf in four films: Transformers, Eagle Eye, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Spielberg prefers working with production members with whom he has developed an existing working relationship. An example of this is his production relationship with Kathleen Kennedy who has served as producer on all his major films from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to the recent Munich. Other working relationships include Allen Daviau, a childhood friend and cinematographer who shot the early Spielberg film Amblin' and most of his films up to Empire of the Sun; Janusz Kamiński who has shot every Spielberg film since Schindler's List (see List of film director and cinematographer collaborations); and the film editor Michael Kahn who has edited every single film directed by Spielberg from Close Encounters to Munich (except E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial). Most of the DVDs of Spielberg's films have documentaries by Laurent Bouzereau.

A famous example of Spielberg working with the same professionals is his long time collaboration with John Williams and the use of his musical scores in all of his films since The Sugarland Express (except The Color Purple and Twilight Zone: The Movie). One of Spielberg's trademarks is his use of music by John Williams to add to the visual impact of his scenes and to try and create a lasting picture and sound of the film in the memories of the film audience. These visual scenes often uses images of the sun (e.g. Empire of the Sun, Saving Private Ryan, the final scene of Jurassic Park, and the end credits of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (where they ride into the sunset)), of which the last two feature a Williams score at that end scene. Spielberg is a contemporary of filmmakers George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, John Milius, and Brian De Palma, collectively known as the "Movie Brats." Aside from his principal role as a director, Spielberg has acted as a producer for a considerable number of films, including early hits for Joe Dante and Robert Zemeckis.

Personal life

Marriages and children

From 1985 to 1989 Spielberg was married to actress Amy Irving. In their 1989 divorce settlement, she received $100 million from Spielberg after a judge controversially vacated a prenuptial agreement written on a napkin. Their divorce was recorded as the third most costly celebrity divorce in history. Following the divorce, Spielberg and Irving shared custody of their son, Max Samuel.

Spielberg subsequently developed a relationship with actress Kate Capshaw, whom he met when he cast her in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They married on October 12, 1991. Capshaw is a convert to Judaism. They currently move among their four homes in Pacific Palisades, Californiamarker; New York Citymarker; East Hampton, NYmarker; and Naples, Floridamarker.

There are seven children in the Spielberg-Capshaw family:
  • Jessica Capshaw (b. August 9, 1976) - daughter from Kate Capshaw's previous marriage to Robert Capshaw
  • Max Samuel Spielberg (b. June 13, 1985) - son from Spielberg's previous marriage to actress Amy Irving
  • Theo Spielberg (b. 1988) - son adopted by Capshaw before her marriage to Spielberg, who later adopted him
  • Sasha Rebecca Spielberg (b. May 14, 1990, Los Angelesmarker)
  • Sawyer Avery Spielberg (b. March 10, 1992, Los Angelesmarker)
  • Mikaela George (b. February 28, 1996) - adopted with Kate Capshaw
  • Destry Allyn Spielberg (b. December 1, 1996)


In 1991 Steven Spielberg co-founded Starbright with Randy Aduana– a foundation dedicated to improving sick children's lives through technology-based programs focusing on entertainment and education. In 2002 Starbright merged with the Starlight Foundation forming what is now today â€“ Starlight Children's Foundation.


  • Spielberg usually supports U.S. Democratic Party candidates. He has donated over $800,000 for the Democratic party and its nominees. He has been a close friend of former President Bill Clinton and worked with the President for the USA Millennium celebrations. He directed an 18-minute film for the project, scored by John Williams and entitled The American Journey. It was shown at America's Millennium Gala on December 31, 1999, in the National Mallmarker at the Reflecting Pool at the base of the Lincoln Memorialmarker in Washington, D.C.marker.

  • On February 20, 2007, Spielberg, Katzenberg, and David Geffen invited Democrats to a fundraiser for Barack Obama,. But on June 14, 2007, Spielberg endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) for President. While Geffen and Katzenberg supported Obama, Spielberg was always a supporter of Hillary Clinton. However Spielberg directed a video for Obama at the DNC in August 2008 and attended Obama's inauguration.

  • In February 2008, Spielberg pulled out of his role as advisor to the 2008 Beijing Olympics in response to the Chinese government's inaction over the War in Darfur. Spielberg said in a statement that "I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual." It also said that "Sudan's government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes, but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more.." The International Olympic Committeemarker respected Spielberg's decision, but IOC president Jacques Rogge admitted in an interview that "[Spielberg] certainly would have brought a lot to the opening ceremony in terms of creativity." Spielberg's statement drew criticism from Chinese officials and state-run media calling his criticism "unfair." Academy Award-nominated Chinese director Zhang Yimou ultimately directed the ceremonies, to wide international acclaim.

  • In September 2008, Spielberg and his wife offered their support to same-sex marriage, by issuing a statement following their donation of $100,000 to the "No on Proposition 8" campaign fund, a figure equal to the amount of money Brad Pitt donated to the same campaign less than a week prior.


Spielberg is an avid film buff and when not shooting a picture, he will indulge in "movie orgies," watching many over a single weekend. He sees almost every major summer blockbuster in theaters if not preoccupied and enjoys most of them; "If I get pleasure from anything, I can't think of it as dumb or myself as shallow [...] I'll probably go late to that movie and go, 'What the dickens was everybody complaining about, that wasn't so bad!'"

Since playing Pong while filming Jaws in 1974, Spielberg has been an avid video gamer. He owns a Wii, a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and enjoys playing first-person shooters such as the Medal of Honor series (which he created) and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. He has also criticized the use of cut scenes in games, calling them intrusive, and feels making story flow naturally into the gameplay is a challenge for future game developers.


In 2001, Spielberg was stalked by conspiracy theorist and former social worker Diana Napolis, who accused him along with actress Jennifer Love Hewitt of controlling her thoughts through "cybertronic" technology and being part of a satanic conspiracy against her. Napolis was committed for a year in a state hospital before pleading guilty to stalking and released on probation with a condition that she have no contact with either Spielberg or Hewitt.

Spielberg was a target of the 2002 white supremacist terror plot.


Spielberg is a winner of three Academy Awards. He has been nominated for six Academy Awards for the category of Best Director, winning two of them (Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan), and seven of the films he directed were up for the Best Picture Oscar (Schindler's List won). In 1987 he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his work as a creative producer.

Drawing from his own experiences in Scouting, Spielberg helped the Boy Scouts of America develop a merit badge in cinematography. The badge was launched at the 1989 National Scout Jamboree which Spielberg attended, personally counseling many boys in their work on requirements.

That same year, 1989, was the release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The opening scene shows a teenage Indiana Jones in scout uniform bearing the rank of a Life Scout. Spielberg stated he made Indiana Jones a Boy Scout in honor of his experience in Scouting. For his career accomplishments and service to others, Spielberg was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.

Steven Spielberg received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1995.

In 1998 he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit with Ribbon of the Federal Republic of Germanymarker. The Award was presented to him by President Roman Herzog in recognition of his film "Schindlers List" and his Shoa-Foundation.

In 1999, Spielberg received an honorary degree from Brown Universitymarker. Spielberg was also awarded the Department of Defensemarker Medal for Distinguished Public Service by Secretary of Defense William Cohen at the Pentagonmarker on August 11, 1999. Cohen presented Spielberg the award in recognition of his film Saving Private Ryan.

In 2001, he was honored as an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.

In 2004 he was admitted as knight of the LĂ©gion d'honneur from president Jacques Chirac. On July 15, 2006, Spielberg was also awarded the Gold Hugo Lifetime Achievement Award at the Summer Gala of the Chicago International Film Festival, and also was awarded a Kennedy Centermarker honour on December 3. The tribute to Spielberg featured a short filmed biography narrated by Tom Hanks and included thank-yous from World War II veterans for Saving Private Ryan, as well as a performance of the finale to Leonard Bernstein's Candide, conducted by John Williams (Spielberg's frequent composer).

former President Clinton with Speilberg as he accepts the 2009 Liberty Award
November 2007, he was chosen for Lifetime Achievement Award to be presented at the sixth annual Visual Effects Society Awards in February 2009. He was set to be honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the January 2008 Golden Globes; however, the new, watered-down format of the ceremony result from conflicts from the 2007-08 writers strike, the HFPA postponed his honor to the 2009 ceremony. In 2008, Spielberg was awarded the LĂ©gion d'honneur.

In June 2008, Spielberg was the recipient of Arizona State Universitymarker’s Hugh Downs Award for Communication Excellence.

Spielberg received an honorary degree at Boston University's 136th Annual Commencement on May 17, 2009.In October 2009 Steven Spielberg received the Philadelphia Liberty Medal. Presenting him with the medal was former US president and Liberty Medal recipient Bill Clinton. Special guests included Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Clinton, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Praise and Criticism

After watching the unconventional, off-center camera techniques of Jaws, an aging Alfred Hitchcock praised "young Spielberg," saying "He's the first one of us who doesn't see the proscenium arch." Or, to paraphrase, he was the first mainstream director to visually think outside the spatial dynamics of the theater.

Spielberg, as a then co-owner of DreamWorksmarker, was involved in a heated debate in which the studio proposed building on the remaining wetlands in Southern California, though development was later dropped.

Spielberg's films are often accused of leaning towards sentimentalism at the expense of other aspects of the film.

French New Wave giant Jean-Luc Godard famously and publicly criticised Spielberg at the premiere of his film In Praise of Love. Godard, who has continuously complained about the commercial nature of modern cinema, holds Spielberg partly responsible for the lack of artistic merit in mainstream cinema. Godard accused Spielberg of using his film Schindler's List to make a profit of tragedy while Schindler's wife lived in poverty in Argentinamarker. In Spielberg's defense, critic Roger Ebert argues that Spielberg is very talented and has also said, "Has Godard or any other director living or dead done more than Spielberg, with his Holocaust Project, to honor and preserve the memories of the survivors?" American artist and actor Crispin Glover (who starred in the Spielberg-produced Back to the Future) also criticised Spielberg in his 2005 essay What Is It?.

Jacques Rivette criticized Spielberg while discussing the James Cameron film Titanic, saying that "Cameron isn't evil, he's not an asshole like Spielberg."

Critics such as anti-mainstream film theorist Ray Carney also complain that Spielberg's films lack depth and do not take risks.Some of Spielberg's most famous fans include film legend Ingmar Bergman.

In a TCM interview, Terry Gilliam expressed some harsh critique towards Spielberg and compared him unfavorably to Stanley Kubrick, saying "The great difference between Kubrick and Spielberg is - Spielberg is more successful. His films make much more money. But they're comforting, they give you answers, always, the films are answers, and I don't think they're very clever answers. (...) Spielberg and the success of most films in Hollywood, I think, is down to the fact that they're comforting, they tie things up in nice little bows, gives you answers, even if the answers are stupid, they're answers. Oh, you go home, you don't have to worry about it. (...) There was a wonderful quote in a book that Freddy Raphael wrote about the making of Eyes Wide Shut, it's called Eyes Wide Open, and he's talking to Kubrick about Schindler's List and the Holocaust, and he says: "The thing is, Schindler's List is about success, the Holocaust was about failure." And that's Kubrick, and that's just spot on. Schindler's List had "save those few people" happy ending. "A man can do what a man can do", and stop death for a few people. But that's not what Holocaust is about, it's about complete failure of civilization, to allow 6 million people to die. And I know which side I'd rather be on. I'd like to have a nice house like Spielberg, but I know which side I'd rather be on."

Gilliam also said the following after seeing Spielberg's War of the Worlds: "I saw 'War of the Worlds' and I thought, Steven Spielberg is a man who makes brilliant scenes but can't make a movie anymore."

In August 2007 Ai Weiwei, the artistic designer for the Beijing Olympic Stadium Bird's Nestmarker accused those choreographing the Olympic opening ceremony, including Steven Spielberg, of failing to live up to their responsibility as artists. Ai said "It's disgusting. I don't like anyone who shamelessly abuses their profession, who makes no moral judgment."

Imre Kertész, Hungarianmarker Jewish author, Holocaust concentration camp survivor, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, attacked Spielberg for falsifying the experience of Holocaust in Schindler's List, and for showing it as something that is foreign to the human nature and impossible to reoccur. He also dismissed the film itself as kitsch:

"Yes, the survivors watch helplessly as their only real possessions are done away with: authentic experiences. I know that many will not agree with me when I apply the term "kitsch" to Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. It is said that Spielberg has in fact done a great service, considering that his film lured millions into the movie theaters, including many who otherwise would never have been interested in the subject of the Holocaust. That might be true. But why should I, as a Holocaust survivor and as one in possession of a broader experience of terror, be pleased when more and more people see these experiences produced on the big screen—and falsified at that? It is obvious that the American Spielberg, who incidentally wasn’t even born until after the war, has and can have no idea of the authentic reality of a Nazi concentration camp. Why, then, does he struggle so hard to make his representation of a world he does not know seem authentic in every detail? The most important message of this black-and-white film comes, I think, at the end, with the appearance in color of a triumphant crowd of people. But I also regard as kitsch any representation of the Holocaust that fails to imply the wide-ranging ethical consequences of Auschwitzmarker, and from which the PERSON in capital letters (and with it the idea of the Human as such) emerges from the camps healthy and unharmed. If this were really possible, we wouldn't still be talking about the Holocaust, or at any rate would speak about it as we might discuss some event of which we have only a distant historical memory, like, say, the Battle of El-Alameinmarker. I regard as kitsch any representation of the Holocaust that is incapable of understanding or unwilling to understand the organic connection between our own deformed mode of life (whether in the private sphere or on the level of "civilization" as such) and the very possibility of the Holocaust. Here I have in mind those representations that seek to establish the Holocaust once and for all as something foreign to human nature; that seek to drive the Holocaust out of the realm of human experience. I would also use the term kitsch to describe those works where Auschwitz is regarded as simply a matter concerning Germans and Jews, and thereby reduced to something like the fatal incompatibility of two groups; when the political and psychological anatomy of modern totalitarianism more generally is disregarded; when Auschwitz is not seen as a universal experience, but reduced to whatever immediately "hits the eye." Apart from this, of course, I regard anything that is kitsch, as kitsch."

Kertész then went on to praise Life Is Beautiful as a film that is truthful to the spirit of Holocaust if not its reality.


This is a Steven Spielberg filmography, including those he directed, produced, and acted in.

One thing interesting to note about Spielberg is that he is very protective of his name. If he is the producer or executive producer of a film which he feels does not meet his standards, he will ask for his name to be removed from the credits.


This is a table of films that Steven Spielberg has been involved in. The lists below will eventually be incorporated into this table.

Year Film Credited as
Director Producer Writer Actor Role
1964 Firelight
1968 Amblin'
1971 Duel
1974 The Sugarland Express
1975 Jaws Voice of the radio respondent on the Orca's radio.
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind
1978 I Wanna Hold Your Hand
1979 1941
1980 The Blues Brothers Cook County Assessor's Office Clerk
Used Carsmarker
1981 Continental Divide
Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie
1984 Gremlins Man in Electric Wheelchair
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Room 666 Himself
1985 Back to the Future
The Color Purple
The Goonies
Young Sherlock Holmes
1986 An American Tail
The Money Pit
1987 *batteries not included
Empire of the Sun
Harry and the Hendersons
1988 The Land Before Time
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
1989 Always
Back to the Future Part II
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
1990 Arachnophobia
Back to the Future Part III
Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Joe Versus the Volcano
Roller Coaster Rabbit
1991 A Wish for Wings That Work
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
Cape Fear
Listen Up!: The Lives of Quincy Jones Himself
Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation
1992 The Magical World of Chuck Jones Himself
1993 Jurassic Park
Schindler's List
We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story
1994 The Flintstones
1995 Casper
Survivors of the Holocaust
1996 AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards: Clint Eastwood Himself
The Universal Story Himself
1997 Amistad
Men in Black
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
1998 Saving Private Ryan
The Last Days
The Mask of Zorro
Deep Impact
Invasion America
1999 Forever Hollywood Himself
The Last Movie: Stanley Kubrick & "Eyes Wide Shut" Himself
Wakko's Wish
2000 Chuck Jones: Extremes and Inbetweens - A Life in Animation
Shooting War
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Jurassic Park III
Price for Peace: From Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures Himself
Vanilla Sky Guest at David Aames' Party
2002 Austin Powers in Goldmember Himself
Catch Me If You Can
Men in Black II
Minority Report
2003 Double Dare Himself
2004 Cecil B. DeMille: American Epic Himself
Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust Himself
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing Himself
The Terminal
2005 Boffo! Tinseltown's Bombs and Blockbusters Himself
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Legend of Zorro
War of the Worlds
Directed by John Ford Himself
2006 Flags of Our Fathers
I Only Wanted to Live
Letters from Iwo Jima
Monster House
Searching for Orson
The Shark Is Still Working Himself
2007 Fog City Mavericks: The Filmmakers of San Francisco Himself
Spielberg on Spielberg Himself
2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Eagle Eye
2009 The Trial of the Chicago 7
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
The Lovely Bones
2011 Lincoln
When Worlds Collide
The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn
Year Film Director Producer Writer Actor Role

Highest-grossing films

This is a list of the top 10 highest domestic-grossing films in which Spielberg has written, directed, or acted, according to Box Office Mojo. This does not include films in which he had a minor role, or appeared as a cameo, according to the same site. Spielberg's films have grossed domestically a total of more than $3.5 billion, with an average of $156 million per film.

Rank Title Lifetime gross (US$)
1 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial 435 million
2 Jurassic Park 357 million
3 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 317 million
4 Jaws 260 million
5 Raiders of the Lost Ark 242 million
6 War of the Worlds 234 million
7 The Lost World: Jurassic Park 229 million
8 Saving Private Ryan 217 million
9 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 197 million
10 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 180 million


(lengths include commercials)
  • Night Gallery (1969, 1971)'
    • pilot movie segment B "Eyes" [aired November 8, 1969] (30 min)
    • ep4 segA "Make Me Laugh" [aired Jan 6 1971] (30 min)
  • Marcus Welby, M.D. (1970)' ep 1-27 "The Daredevil Gesture" (60 min) [aired March 17, 1970]
  • The Name of the Game (1971)' ep 3-16 "L.A. 2017" (90 min) [aired January 15, 1971]
  • The Psychiatrist (1971)'
    • ep. 1-2 "The Private World of Martin Dalton" (60 min) [aired February 10, 1971]
    • ep. 1-6 "Par for the Course" (60 min) [aired March 10, 1971]
: (this was released on a VHS named The Visionary after the other episode included)
  • Columbo (1971)' ep. 1-1 "Murder By the Book" (90 min) [aired September 15, 1971]
  • Owen Marshall: Counselor At Law (1971)' ep. 1-3 "Eulogy for a Wide Receiver" (60 min) [aired September 30, 1971]
  • Duel (1971)' TV-movie (90 min) (extended cut was released theatrically and on home video/DVD) [aired November 13, 1971]
  • Something Evil (1972)' TV-movie (90 min) [aired January 21, 1972]
  • Savage (1973)' TV-movie (90 min) [aired March 31, 1973]
  • Curse of the boobahs (1984)' TV series (introductory segments hosted by Dustin Hoffman) [aired May 1984]
  • Amazing Stories (1985)'
    • ep 1-1 "Ghost Train" (30 min) [aired October 6, 1985]
    • ep 1-5 "The Mission" (60 min) [aired November 3, 1985] (part of Amazing Stories: Book One)

Awards and nominations

Nominations for Academy Award for Best Director

Academy Award for Best Picture



External links

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