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What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

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What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Old 06-08-21, 08:03 PM
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What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Considering the sheer breadth of his filmography,
what single movie would you choose that defines STEVEN SPIELBERG
for the man who he is, and the kind of movies he creates?
Old 06-08-21, 08:19 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

E. T.
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Old 06-08-21, 08:26 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Jaws.
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Old 06-08-21, 08:40 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Poltergeist.

Thirded for Jaws: it set the template for how most all of his movies play out, regardless of genre, and it contains aspects of almost everything he does. Tension, sense of wonder, a little humor, populism, eccentric individualism, thrills, etc.
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Old 06-08-21, 08:43 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Originally Posted by Dr. DVD View Post
E. T.
I think probably E.T. but I so badly want to say Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

I know the OP only wants one movie but I think there are two Spielbergs. There the director who has an enormous sense of imagination and wonder. This was the Spielberg of the late 70s and the 80s. Thatís where Iíd choose CE3K.

Then thereís the serious Spielberg who shows the dramatic and complicated real world. Iíd choose Schindlerís List for that Spielberg.
Old 06-08-21, 08:52 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Great responses from everyone so far!

I agree, GoldenJCJ - There are two sides to Spielberg's career - The imaginative Spieberg / The serious Spielberg.

Now, imagine Spielberg's tombstone - If there was room for only one movie title on that tombsstone that covers both sides of Spielberg, could there be one?
Old 06-08-21, 09:09 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Originally Posted by GoldenJCJ View Post
I know the OP only wants one movie but I think there are two Spielbergs. There the director who has an enormous sense of imagination and wonder. This was the Spielberg of the late 70s and the 80s. That’s where I’d choose CE3K.
Right, I believe his is too varied to be defined by a single movie. I'm sure you could argue Star Wars defined Lucas, but even a filmmaker like Zemeckis I don't think has a single film that defines his career (is it the perfect storytelling of Back To The Future? The technical achievements of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?/Forrest Gump? The motion capture films?)

I think there are films that define a period of time in their careers, but not the whole thing.
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Old 06-08-21, 09:51 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Originally Posted by jeffkjoe View Post

Now, imagine Spielberg's tombstone - If there was room for only one movie title on that tombsstone that covers both sides of Spielberg, could there be one?
Impossible.

If you had to sum up Spielberg in one brief sentence for his tombstone: Director of Schindler's List and Jurassic Park, both released in 1993.
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Old 06-08-21, 11:43 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

And for the Schindler's List autograph seekers, forget it! (:54)
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Old 06-09-21, 01:13 AM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

My choice is Raiders of the Lost Ark since it's a fun adventure movie, features Nazis and is a franchise starter.
Old 06-09-21, 01:26 AM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Jurassic Park

Kicked off a multi-billion dollar franchise complete with sequels, TV spinoffs, Theme parks, toys, reigniting dinosaurmania. Not to mention the contributions to film making and the refinement of using CGI along side traditional puppettering to revolutionize special effects in movies.

Last edited by tanman; 06-10-21 at 02:17 AM.
Old 06-09-21, 08:25 AM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

1941-He showed he could survive after a complete failure.







Old 06-09-21, 10:19 AM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Originally Posted by Mondo Kane View Post
And for the Schindler's List autograph seekers, forget it! (:54)
That's interesting (yet makes total sense) to hear he doesn't autograph Schindler's List stuff.
Old 06-09-21, 10:39 AM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Jaws and Close Encounters are both probably the best choices.

For "fun" I'll throw out Saving Private Ryan, which, like those two proceeding films, embodies both the spectacle and emotionality of his career.
Old 06-09-21, 05:32 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

I remember on the Barbara Walters interview before he won the Oscar in 1994 he said that he feels E.T. and Schindler's List encapsulate his career. I agree.
Old 06-09-21, 05:47 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

It's E.T.
Old 06-09-21, 05:55 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Originally Posted by tanman View Post
Jurasic Park

Kicked off a multi-billion dollar franchise complete with sequels...
You could say the same thing about Raiders. The two films are within spitting distance of one another on the highest grossing films (adjusted) of all time as well. I have no doubt that the JP franchise has grossed more and your points about special effects and dinosaur enthusiasm/interest are quite valid as well.

Yet, between JP and RotLA, I would still pick Raiders for this reason alone: Spielberg helped substantially in developing the original script with Kasdan and Lucas. JP, on the other hand, was already extremely cinematic in novel form and, of course, Crichton himself adapted it. There is a funny story about Crichton being asked what he was working on when he was writing the novel. He answered that he was "writing the most expensive movie ever made", albeit somewhat in jest.

IMHO, Jaws remains the best film that Spielberg has ever made, but if I had to pick the single defining film of his career to date, it would be E.T. or Raiders. But, again, your argument for JP is pretty strong. It is just that screenplay development issue that lowers it down the list a little for me.
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Old 06-09-21, 07:10 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

E.T. Family dynamics, tug at your heartstrings movie moments, (with manipulation of course, to a fault in some cases) embodies most of his films. That old fashioned romanticism can still be found in his more serious pics as well.

Old 06-09-21, 11:11 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

I think one could give the ďbiggest impact on cultureĒ answer which have to be something like E.T. or Jurassic Park or especially Schindlerís List.

But the personal impact answer would have to be Close Encounters. The incredible journey of one man hearing something from the stars and doing whatever it takes to answer that call. And the incredible climax with the music and the imagery canít be understated.
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Old 06-10-21, 02:43 AM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Originally Posted by jfoobar View Post
You could say the same thing about Raiders. The two films are within spitting distance of one another on the highest grossing films (adjusted) of all time as well. I have no doubt that the JP franchise has grossed more and your points about special effects and dinosaur enthusiasm/interest are quite valid as well.

Yet, between JP and RotLA, I would still pick Raiders for this reason alone: Spielberg helped substantially in developing the original script with Kasdan and Lucas. JP, on the other hand, was already extremely cinematic in novel form and, of course, Crichton himself adapted it. There is a funny story about Crichton being asked what he was working on when he was writing the novel. He answered that he was "writing the most expensive movie ever made", albeit somewhat in jest.

IMHO, Jaws remains the best film that Spielberg has ever made, but if I had to pick the single defining film of his career to date, it would be E.T. or Raiders. But, again, your argument for JP is pretty strong. It is just that screenplay development issue that lowers it down the list a little for me.
That's an excellent point. And actually I mainly picked JP because no one mentioned it yet. Honestly you could make a point of just about any of his movies.

Originally Posted by d2cheer View Post
1941-He showed he could survive after a complete failure.
Case in point. I was about to choose 1941 as a joke but damn if you didn't find a really compelling reason to choose even this movie. People always like to point to other's success but it's oftentimes failure that truly define what we can do and of course failure is our greatest teacher.

Schindler's List - though I think is his magnum opus in terms of film making and importance culturally and historically. I don't think it's hyperbole to say it's one of the most important films ever made. I always though holocaust deniers were just a small fringe group of deranged people but recently I think we have been shown how important it is to fight people like that.

Jaws - kicked off and defined THE summer blockbuster and also showed what Spielberg was capable of in adverse conditions.

E.T. - probably one of the first family blockbusters

Raiders - I'm not even going to bother writing pages on this movie

Saving Private Ryan - I'm going to say this is his second most important movie technically, culturally, and historically. The gritty realism in this movie was never seen before. No one ever made war movies like this. Remember the wide spread reports of veterans leaving the theaters due to it's realism? This movie did so much to revitalize interest in the greatest generation. Since then the National D-Day museum in New Orleans was created with Steven Spielberg's help, The National WW2 memorial was built, There were more documentaries made and renewed interested in capturing the stories of these heroes who saved democracy before they're gone forever. In addition to that, for better or worse, shaky cam footage is staple of modern day film making. It also kicked off a whole renewed interest and created a whole subgenre of FPS video games relating to WW2 starting with Medal of Honor and leading to the multi-billion dollar industries of Battlefield and Call of Duty. Come to think of it, I think in terms of shear amount of cultural impact this was his number one movie in terms of how many different things it inspired and changed.
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Old 06-10-21, 09:34 AM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

I'll go with something different, even if mainly for sake of discussion: Catch Me If You Can

I'm certainly not saying it's his best movie or most influential, but I think it could be argued that it can define his career. It came after Spielberg went more serious, and I think it hangs on to some of those more adult themes while still acting as a fun adventure flick like some of his earlier work. It's a period piece (quite common for him) and is based on a book and real person (also common for him). It also has a lot of other telltale Spielberg touches from the people involved (all-star cast, Kaminski as cinematographer, Kahn as editor, another John Williams score) to the family issues centered on divorce and issues with dad.

Also, since people brought up other things, it also was a commercial and critical success, even earning some Oscar nominations, and inspired a musical adaptation.

Again, I'm not saying it's the greatest Spielberg movie, but it serves as a pretty good bridge between his more serious work and the side of him that is known more for light-hearted adventure, which makes it a pretty good candidate for a film that defines his career.
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Old 06-10-21, 10:23 AM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

Originally Posted by ddrknghtrtns View Post
Jaws.
Without question.
Old 06-10-21, 10:47 AM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

How about this:

What if you said DUEL?

This, being his first mainstream Hollywood movie, established him as the wunderkind that he would prove himself to be.
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Old 06-10-21, 03:45 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

JAWS - Considering all of its problems, it completely changed the way Spielberg shot a film. IIRC, he never again went over budget and pretty much competed everything on time if not sooner. He sticks to his storyboards and pre-vis, everything is realized before cameras roll.
Old 06-10-21, 07:52 PM
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Re: What SINGLE movie of STEVEN SPIELBERG defines his entire career?

As others have pointed out, I don't think you can truly define his career with any one movie, but if I had to pick one it would be E.T. It may not be his best movie (though it is one of my favorites), but it captures much of what people think of when they think "Spielbergian." The fairy-tale story centered around a suburban family. The childlike innocence and sense of wonder at discovering the world is bigger than you thought. The iconic shots and swelling musical score. You can make the same case for CE3K, but I think it lacks some of the sentimentality that becomes more prevalent in his work from E.T. and onward.
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