The Cinematic History of Steven Spielberg

In Features by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest and most influential directors of our time, with a CV that includes an incredible array of unforgettable films. To celebrate the 25th anniversary edition of Schindler’s List, which is available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on February 25th, we’ take a look back at some of the iconic director’s most memorable cinematic work. 

Jaws (1975)
Dun Dun. Dun Dun. Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun… JAWS. Spielberg’s first ever blockbuster movie, released in the summer of 1975, it became one of the first ever movies to gross over $100 million. Additionally, it was also one of the first movies to use animatronics extensively. Spielberg’s demands while directing Jaws was that it had to be shot in the sea rather than a tank. In an interview he stated “had we shot on the tank I don’t think Jaws would have been very successful, because it would look really phony”. Although this did bring many problems while shooting – to the point that Spielberg was almost fired because he went over-schedule and budget – producers were so confident in his work that they carried on and the result was of the most famous films of our time. 

ET (1982)
E.T…. phone home… a story of a gentle alien stranded on earth who befriends a young boy called Elliot. But where did this idea and vision come from? Spielberg revealed that it didn’t just come to him in a flash, but was inspired by everything from watching Peter Pan to witnessing meteor showers when he was six. Spielberg explains that when shooting E.T. he aimed for reality: although the narrative was a fantasy he believed that shots should appear as realistic as possible. His technique and drive paid off, and E.T. grossed $619 million worldwide.  

Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park is one of world’s largest and most popular film franchises. The first film made over $50 million on its opening weekend and became one of the biggest grossing movies of all time. In an interview, Spielberg said: ”Every single action sequence on this movie was storyboarded almost two years before we ever shot scenes”. Additionally, the dinosaurs themselves were a massive element in the success of Jurassic Park. Most of the dinosaurs shot were life-size, with cabled eyes, mouth and limbs, as Spielberg wanted to shoot the action sequences live. 

Schindler’s List (1993)
A more mature and serious directing role for Spielberg was Schindler’s List. Set during World War I, the narrative follows businessman Oskar Schindler who arranges to have his workers protected from the SS so that his factory doesn’t close down. However, an intern soon releases that the real reason for Schindler’s co-operation with the Nazis is that it allows him to save innocent people’s lives. Schindler’s List had been on Spielberg’s desk for over a decade before anything started moving. Filming only lasted 72 days, with a budget of just $22 million, which was roughly a third of the cost of Jurassic Park. Spielberg did double-duty during this project, over-seeing the special effects for Jurassic Park at the same time. Schindler’s List made over $96 million and, 25 years on, is still one of his most significant films.