Overview: One of the most famous filmmakers in the world, Steven Spielberg pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career more than ever before in the exclusive HBO presentation Spielberg. Directed and produced by award-winning documentarian Susan Lacy, this unprecedented feature-length documentary examines the filmmaker’s filmography in depth. She draws on nearly 30 hours of exclusive interviews with the director, who opens up about his bittersweet childhood and lifelong obsession with moviemaking, his precocious early work as a TV “wunderkind,” his rise to fame through an incredible string of blockbusters, his later forays into more serious dramatic films, and the personal and professional relationships he’s cultivated through the years.
Expectations: It is simple, at 2 hours and 27 minutes in length I expect to get the whole story. With clocking in with 30 hours worth of interview time with the auteur I also expect the whole story. Is it doable to get the whole story? Perhaps, if it were a Ken Burns opus, but we will see.
Gut Reaction: Mighty good documentary if you are a big film buff. However, at almost 2 ½ hours long the adulation and awe for Steven Spielberg, even if he is the originator of blockbuster cinema, goes on a tad long and those 30 hours of conversation certainly boiled down to something concise. But, a lot was captured and revealed about the artisan and his process that made it interesting. In fact, I am not quite sure which I liked better, the film clips from movies I haven’t seen in ages or, believe it or not, have never seen or the one-on-one moments Spielberg had with the camera. The testimonials I wouldn’t have missed. That time should have been spent more with the honored filmmaker.
This documentary is not the complete story of the man or his work, it is just the highlights really. Oh, it mentions a couple critically panned works like 1941 and only his early TV work, but it doesn’t delve into them all. Nor did it delve into his DreamWorks venture at all. All of that, I guess, would have made it a multi-part epic. It could have been crafted that way, you know, more like THE DEFIANT ONES. It was still a good film.
In Conclusion: I am not a fan of Hollywood and celebrity, but a fan of movies and filmmaking and there is a difference. For those who, like me, love the movies this is a good solid look at how Steven Spielberg’s oeuvre fits into the scheme of cinematic history, though I didn’t think the documentary’s format was best suited for the topic. If you got an evening to kill, by all means, watch SPIELBERG.
Next: ROLLING STONE: STORIES FROM THE EDGE is a two-part tale of the iconic music magazine debuting 11.06 and concluding 11.07.