Spielberg, Steven

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Spielberg, Steven

Steven Spielberg, 1946–, American film director, b. Cincinnati, Ohio. Spielberg began his career as a television director, admired for his understanding portrayal of human character. His film Jaws (1975) was the first to earn more than $100 million, a record he surpassed first with E.T. (1983) and then with Jurassic Park (1993), which grossed more than $900 million. Spielberg's love of older movies was demonstrated with his serial-inspired trilogy of movies featuring Indiana Jones. Other films, many based on literary works, include The Color Purple (1985), Empire of the Sun (1987), and the widely acclaimed Holocaust drama Schindler's List (1993), for which he won an Academy Award. In 1994, Spielberg, former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, and recording industry mogul David Geffen formed Dreamworks SKG, a movie studio and entertainment company.

The director later explored a slave revolt and trial in Amistad (1997) and won his second Academy Award for the realistic World War II drama Saving Private Ryan (1998). He subsequently examined a ghastly future world of neurotic humans and sentient robots (the result of a collaboration with Stanley Kubrick) in A.I. (2001), for which he also wrote the screenplay, and portrayed another dark future in which crime is detected and stopped before it is committed in the allegory-thriller Minority Report (2002). He turned to a more comic vision in his tales of a young imposter and his pursuer in Catch Me If You Can (2002) and of a foreigner stranded in New York's Kennedy Airport in The Terminal (2004). Munich (2005) is a tale of Israelis and Palestinians, terrorism and vengeance. The animated Adventures of Tintin (2011) is an interpretation of the Hergé series, and War Horse (2011) adapted a novel about a boy's beloved horse caught up in the horrors of World War I. Lincoln (2012), acclaimed as one of his finest films, is the story of the adoption of the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery, as well as a study of the president and American politics. By the early 21st cent., Spielberg was Hollywood's most famous, influential, and successful mainstream director.

See biography by J. McBride (1997).

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