chapter  18
13 Pages

• Steven Spielberg: Childhood Forever

Steven Spielberg’s films tend to convey a certain “heaviness” with regard to adult life but joy and belief with regard to the children. He is at his most effective in his films that focus on childhood, such as “E.T.” (1982) and “Empire of the Sun” (1987), and in films where the adults act like enthusiastic adolescents, such as “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) and “Jurassic Park” (1994). His portrayals of adult life, on the other hand, are marked by destructive human behavior, such as “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “Amistad” (1997), in which Spielberg constructed stories about such human tragedies as the Holocaust and a slave revolt in such a way as to create a hero. Oskar Schindler and Roger Baldwin represent the triumph of humanism over barbarism. These optimistic interpretations of two of the darkest moments in human history contrast sharply with the work of Stanley Kubrick, for example. Perhaps it is fair to say that Spielberg’s director’s idea requires that he find a romantic hero to align the dark material of “Schindler’s List” and “Amistad” more closely with the core approach that characterizes his children’s films.