Steven Spielberg’s father passed away last week at the age of 103. Arnold Spielberg and his relationship with his son has been a major theme in the work of Spielberg. Writer Anthony Breznican took a really interesting look at the father and son dynamic that has influenced so much of the iconic director’s filmography.
From Vanity Fair:
Spielberg has never tried to hide the personal thread running through his films. “It’s a nagging theme in my work. A theme that also works into films that aren’t as fantastic, like Empire of the Sun, The Color Purple, or Catch Me if You Can,” he said in our 2005 interview for USA Today. “It’s a theme that interests me, that has always interested me.”
It’s there in the bond between Indiana Jones and Short Round in The Temple of Doom, and in Harrison Ford and Sean Connery’s combative chemistry in The Last Crusade. It came up again in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull between Ford and Shia LaBeouf, playing the son the archaeologist never knew. It’s in the scientists who find themselves surrogate parents of frightened young visitors in Jurassic Park, and the little robot boy seeking a family in A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
“From very early on in my career everybody said that I didn’t ever make personal movies, that I only made these big concept films,” Spielberg told me. “I always felt all of my films were personal because I’ve never made a film where some part of the story didn’t come from some experience I shared with my family.”
Steven had a strained and distant relationship with his father for many years after his parents divorced, and you can see him working out his feelings over their split in many of his early films. Close Encounters could be interpreted as an effort to see things from the father’s point of view, to understand what might lead someone away from those who love and rely on him.
“They’re all landmarks as we get older about how we’re changing and how we see the world,” Spielberg said. “I couldn’t have made Close Encounters of the Third Kind the same way today. My values are different.” A lot changed in him over the years.
Read more at Vanity Fair.