Tuesday 24 May 2022 | 10:25 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 24 May 2022 | 10:25 | SYDNEY

Spielberg American humanism


Sam Roggeveen


21 December 2011 13:31

If you're a film buff, and in particular a Spielberg admirer, this is pay-dirt: a new multi-chapter video essay on the films of Steven Spielberg.

Below is a short lead-in to the series, a meditation on the 'Spielberg face':

That clip seems to be the only one that's embeddable, but the real reason to feature this series on The Interpreter is for Chapter 3, which has just been released, all about Spielberg's treatment of communication. From the narration:

Many of his movies are transcendently cheerful. Even the bleakest offer a shred of hope for humanity, or else lament when it falls short of its potential. And all share an underlying belief: that misunderstandings could be fixed, problems solved, and disasters averted if we could all just learn to get along. And before we can get along, we must communicate.

Spielberg has been criticised in the US for taking 'liberal' positions in some of his movies ('Munich' was seen by some as insufficiently pro-Israel) and his personal politics do lean towards the Democrats. But beyond policy and party affilliation, the above quote captures the real heart of Spielberg's politics and reflects a strain of liberal humanism that has had an enormous impact on US politics and foreign policy, for good and ill.

Do keep an eye on this video series over your summer break, and do yourself a favour by revisiting some of Spielberg's classics. I recently caught Close Encounters of the Third Kind again, and it reflects Spielberg's liberal humanism as well as any of his movies. I was also reminded of the incredible visual power of the film, in particular this scene set in India, ending with all those fingers raised to the sky. Spine-tingling.