Steven Spielberg, one of those rare directors to have balanced critical acclaim and huge box office returns with unmistakable élan, turns a year older today. We, at The Quint, bring you some interesting details about this movie maestro.
1. Only Spielberg Predicted that Star Wars Would Be a Success
When George Lucas screened an early cut of Star Wars to his friends and family, everyone hated the film – from his wife to Brian DePalma. It was only Spielberg who thought the film had a marvellous innocence and naivety which was bound to attract people. History proved him right when Star Wars beat Jaws at the box office.
2. Father-Son Issues
In all probability, you’re not aware of Spielberg’s father, and the fact that he holds more resonance in your daily life. Arnold Spielberg is credited as one of the developers of the first computers used in a business environment. He also invented the first cash register on an electronic network, and the first electronic library system, among other technical accomplishments. The duo has always had a problematic relationship. While the father has spoken publicly about not liking his son’s films, the son chose to portray him as a caricature with masculinity issues in his early films.
3. Birth of the Summer Blockbuster
Before the summer of 1975, Hollywood studios preferred the idea of a traditional progressive release, and stayed away from advertising their movies on network television, as it was too expensive. It was Jaws that introduced the trend of wide national release backed by heavy TV advertising. It also established the benefits of a high concept film, released during the summer season. In many ways, it was Spielberg’s Jaws that was a precursor to the summer mayhem that has become the norm now.
Like his peers, his love for films is infinite. Among the many movie memorabilia, he owns the only remaining copy of ‘Rosebud’, a prop that is the centrepiece of Orson Welles’ landmark film, Citizen Kane. He bought the most famous sled in Hollywood, at an auction for $60,500.
5. Creation of PG-13 Rating
For the sheer violence and gore in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins, Spielberg had come under serious censure for being associated with such films which were deemed suitable for kids. Finally, he called Jack Valenti (the then President of the Motion Picture Association) and suggested him to revise the rating system, and opt for PG-13 or PG-14, depending on the content. The end result was the introduction of PG-13.
6. Spielberg’s E.T. Owes a Lot to Satyajit Ray
Spielberg owes a lot to Indian auteur Satyajit Ray for his film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Ray was supposed to make a sci-fi film where a village boy befriends a friendly extraterrestrial, based on his Bengali short story. Columbia Pictures was interested in backing the project, and several big ticket names like Peter Sellers, Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando were in consideration. The project never took off, and Ray became disillusioned with Hollywood. By that time, the script was circulating all over. When E.T. released in 1982, there were several people, including Arthur Clarke, who noticed many similarities. Spielberg has always denied the inspiration, but many of his peers, from Martin Scorsese to Richard Attenborough, acknowledged it publicly.
7. Spielberg Appeared in a Michael Jackson Video
Spielberg can be seen in pop star Michael Jackson’s music video Liberian Girl.
(This article was first published on 18 December, 2015 and has been republished to mark Steven Spielberg’s birthday.)
(The writer is a journalist and a screenwriter who believes in the insanity of words, in print or otherwise. Follow him on Twitter: @RanjibMazumder)