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Steven Spielberg is responsible for some of the most successful films ever made: Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. and the ‘Indiana Jones’ series. Yet for many years most critics condescendingly regarded Spielberg as a child-man incapable of dealing maturely with the complexities of life. The deeper levels of meaning in his films were largely ignored. This changed with Schindler’s List, his masterpiece about a gentile businessman who saves eleven hundred Jews from the Holocaust. For Spielberg, the film was the culmination of a long struggle with his Jewish identity – an identity of which he had long been ashamed, but now triumphantly embraced.
Until the first edition of Steven Spielberg: A Biography was published in 1997, much about Spielberg’s personality and the forces that shaped it had remained enigmatic, in large part because of his tendency to obscure and mythologize his own past. In his astute and perceptive biography, Joseph McBride reconciled Spielberg’s seeming contradictions and produced a coherent portrait of the man who found a way to transmute the anxieties of his own childhood into some of the most emotionally powerful and viscerally exciting films ever made.
In the second edition, McBride added four chapters to Spielberg’s life story, chronicling his extraordinarily active and creative period from 1997 to 2010, a period in which he balanced his executive duties as one of the partners in the film studio DreamWorks SKG with a remarkable string of films as a director: Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, A. I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, The Terminal and Munich — films which expanded his range both stylistically and in terms of adventurous, often controversial, subject matter.
This third edition brings Spielberg’s career up to date with material on two recent films he directed, The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, analyzing what they represent in terms of Spielberg’s overall career development as an artist making both lighter and darker works alternately involving fantasy or history. The new sections also deal with the recent upheavals in Spielberg’s position as a minimogul, his uneven but prolific work as a producer, and his upcoming projects.
The original edition of Steven Spielberg: A Biography was praised by the New York Times Book Review as ‘an exemplary portrait’ written with ‘impressive detail and sensitivity’; Time called it ‘easily the finest and fairest of the unauthorized biographies of the director.’
Of the second edition, Nigel Morris – author of The Cinema of Steven Spielberg: Empire of Light – wrote: ‘With this tour de force, McBride remains the godfather of Spielberg studies.’
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David Lean by Kevin Brownlow, re-issued for the David Lean Centenary in 2008.