Steven Spielberg: The Unauthorized Biography

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9780002555876: Steven Spielberg: The Unauthorized Biography

John Baxter charts Speilberg's career from his boyhood 8mm home movies to the epic sweep of "Schlindler's List" and beyond. He tells the story from his unhappy adolescence on the fringes of American society to his present unrivalled position of power. Spielberg's story is also the story of modern Hollywood and of the "Movie Brat" generatin of directors - Martin Scorsese, Frnacis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, John Millius and Brian de Palma.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A slight biography of Spielberg, perhaps the most successful filmmaker of all time. Attempting a biography of an artist at mid-career is always a daunting task, but the remarkable success of director Spielberg (Jaws, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, etc.) makes such a book inevitable. Unfortunately, Spielberg would not be interviewed for the book. Thus Baxter (Fellini, 1994, etc.) is left with already- published reports and new interviews with co-workers. So while he describes the making of each film and probes the differences between the childlike visionary perceived by the public and the driven, often prickly director and businessman who operates behind the scenes, Baxter never finds the key to the unique personality and talent of this quixotic artist, nor does he get beyond the now- familiar story of Spielberg's evolution from film-obsessed child to filmmaker-phenomenon. Baxter also comes to his subject with the thesis, hardly original, that the superficial plot lines and comic- book mise-en-scŠnes of Spielberg's films have led to the decline of the narrative film as an art form. But because Baxter never seems to grasp the nature of Spielberg's dazzling style (which at its peak, in thrillers like Jaws and Jurassic Park, involved rigorously planned camera angles and deftly timed editing), he fails to adequately define how that style might have been misused (in more character-driven films such as The Color Purple). In addition, Baxter's credentials as biographer and critic are undermined by mistakes any freshman film student could have corrected (Frank Capra's remake of Lady for a Day is Pocketful of Miracles, not A Hole in the Head, Fran‡ois Truffaut's The Green Room is far from his ``last'' film, Broadcast News was directed by James L. Brooks, not Albert Brooks, etc.). Despite some entertaining behind-the-scenes gossip, Baxter's biography is ultimately as superficial as he accuses Spielberg's films of being. (24 pages b&w photos) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Steven Spielberg is pretty much America's official dream merchant, building upon the legacy of previous cultural fantasists such as Frank Capra and Walt Disney. "The first appeal of [an American popular artwork] is, and must be," says Baxter, "commonplace delight," at which Spielberg excels. "His films . . . are machines for delighting us," Baxter continues and then tells us how those machines are put together. Exploring the filmmaking, a portrait of the filmmaker emerges. Spielberg, notably comfortable with the idea that a hiqh-quality motion picture can be entertaining and vice versa, has met with so much commercial success that his artistic successes may be overlooked. Examining Spielberg's career film by film, Baxter redresses any lack of appreciation for the man's artistry and produces an excellent book about the contemporary director who just may have the best cumulative record of achievement to stand upon in public and declare himself to be "king of the world" --of popular culture, that is. Mike Tribby

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John Baxter
Published by Harpercollins (1997)
ISBN 10: 0002555875 ISBN 13: 9780002555876
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Baxter, John
Published by Harpercollins (1997)
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