Steven Spielberg: A Biography

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9780684811673: Steven Spielberg: A Biography

In this full-scale, in-depth biography of Steven Spielberg, Joseph McBride reveals hidden dimensions of the filmmaker's personality and shows how deeply personal even his most commercial work has been. With the same breadth of research and clarity of insight that characterized his acclaimed biography of Frank Capra, McBride has gone in search of the true Steven Spielberg, interviewing more than 325 of the director's friends and associates, many of whom had never spoken about him before. Drawing a vivid and highly detailed portrait of Spielberg's extraordinary childhood and his early amateur filmmaking, McBride uncovers the cultural and personal influences that came together to form Spielberg's artistic personality. McBride traces Spielberg's evolution from an introverted social outcast into the precocious talent who won a contract with Universal at age twenty-one. "Steven Spielberg: A Biography" explains how Spielberg's ambivalent attitude toward his Jewish heritage and painful experiences with anti-Semitism during adolescence turned him toward popular filmmaking by impelling him to seek approval from the widest possible audience. Perceptively analyzing Spielberg's work, McBride shows how the filmmaker transformed his own fears and obsessions into films that have entertained millions of people throughout the world. Eventually, Spielberg's artistic ambitions became unmistakable in such powerful but uneven films as "The Color Purple" and "Empire of the Sun," until finally, with "Schindler's List," Spielberg's emotional candor and courage yielded what is widely acknowledged as a cinematic masterpiece.

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Review:

Writing a biography is tough enough when the subject is dead and the biographer must rely on a paper trail and recollections of contemporaries to relate the essence of the man or woman's life. When the subject still lives--and especially when he is as powerful as Steven Spielberg--a whole new set of problems emerge. For one thing, it's difficult to find anyone willing to criticize a man who pulls as many strings in the film industry as Spielberg; for another, how does one evaluate a career that is still in progress? If the definitive Spielberg biography cannot yet be written, Joseph McBride's Steven Spielberg: A Biography will suffice in the interim. Though certainly affected by the aforementioned constraints, McBride still creates an impressive portrait of the man behind Schindler's List, E.T., Jurassic Park, and many, many more.

McBride is especially effective at limning the contours of Spielberg's childhood. Born in 1946 to Arnold and Leah Spielberg, the young Steven endured both frequent moves and his parents' unhappy domestic life. These factors, combined with the anti-Semitism he encountered as a teenager, drove the introverted Spielberg to seek approval through filmmaking. In addition to exploring Spielberg's private life, McBride offers some perceptive criticism of his work. Anyone interested in the film industry and Spielberg's place in it will find Joseph McBride's Steven Spielberg a valuable resource.

From the Inside Flap:

An extensive updating of the major critical biography of an acclaimed director

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