Tag Archives: Spielberg

Doc Edge 18 | Spielberg

United States | 2018 | 147 min | English | Susan Lacy

Stephen Spielberg had always wanted to be a director, but when he watched Lawrence of Arabia at age sixteen he decided to give up on his dream because the perfection of that film had set the bar too high. How, he thought, am I ever going to make anything that good? Thank God, he changed his mind.

No director has ever made so many films that are universally loved. Especially if you grew up in the 90s, Spielberg movies were a huge part of your childhood. Blockbuster hits like Jaws, Jurassic Park, and E.T. made him a household name. The documentary Spielberg, directed by Susan Lacy, explores the person behind the Hollywood living legend. It provides illuminating insights into Spielberg’s relationships, personality and life experiences.

This documentary is extremely interesting in a surprising way. You know all his movies, so you almost feel as if you have grown up with Spielberg and that you know who he is. Spielberg may be a movie-making machine, but the documentary does a great job of revealing how human he really is.

The famous director talks openly about how nervous he gets each day he walks on set and his insecurities when he was young. Making films was a way he could focus and escape from his anxiety – a kind of therapy. “When I had too much time to think, all those scary whispers would start up. It was not fun to be me in between ideas or projects”, says Spielberg. When you understand his personal life, including that he was bullied as a child and the divorce of his parents, you realise how he has weaved those themes of the underdog and family ties into his movies.

It is amazing to see someone so revered reveal such vulnerable and sensitive aspects of himself. However, one would have to be sensitive to be able to create films grounded in humanity that speak to the audience the way Spielberg’s do. The documentary features interviews with his peers, such as directors and producers Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Martin Scorcese and Kathleen Kennedy. All say that Spielberg has a natural, intuitive talent for the art of telling stories through images like no one else. That is why he has such popular appeal.

The producer Walter Parkes said it best: “Stephen is arguably the most commercial director in the history of motion pictures. And I think it’s because he has a deep understanding of how the language of cinema elicits an emotional reaction in an audience.” Spielberg’s road to success was by no means smooth and paved with moments of doubt, but he persisted because he knew that film was his calling and there was nothing else for him.

Spielberg has come a long way from sneaking into Universal Studios to learn how to make films. Fascinating and endearing, the documentary Spielberg is an intimate look at one of the greatest directors of all time.

5 Stars


Spielberg is showing at the following times in Auckland as part of the Documentary Edge Festival 2018:

Rangatira/Q Theatre: 3 June, 6.30pm.