Susan Lacy’s Spielberg (2017)

December 6, 2019 | By

A few weeks ago I reviewed Susan Lacy’s Jane Fonda in Five Acts (2018), one of several docs Lacy has directed or produced for PBS and HBO. In Spielberg (2017), the subject is the iconic director-producer-writer-studio-co-founder-humanist Steven Spielberg, whose impact on film has never been doubted, but whose legacy as an innovator will endure, much like the filmmaking heroes from his childhood.



When Spielberg was given the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the 1986 Oscars, the montage featured a clip in which the director was leading a flock of people of various ages on some exterior location trip (no doubt for the media). The director wore his familiar glasses, long coat, and long billowing scarf, which added to his image of a pied piper of pop culture artists.

His Amblin; Entertainment was making films and TV series, and one stark image projected in his family-oriented fodder was the tight-knitted nuclear family in an idyllic suburban environment – a fantasyland which Lacy identifies as an attractive, cosmetic alternative to his own youth which was affected by his parents’ separation & divorce – the last touching his mother, dimming, as Spielberg recounts, her bright energetic light.


George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, unhappy the photographer drank the last chilled bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade of the RAIDERS shoot.


The happy ending for the Spielbergs as a whole is sweet – director Steven is now an elder statesman working into his 70s with no sign of slowing down, and his parents have reunited after living through separate life experiences.

At almost 2.5 hours, Lacy’s doc is never dull nor slow – the wealth of archival materials are marvelous – but perhaps as a sign-off before my next blog, it’s worth poking a hole at Quentin Tarantino’s preposterous theory in which ‘a great director has 10 good films in his canon.’

Spielberg’s 10th film was the flawed drama Empire of the Sun (1987), after which should’ve come lesser works bearing feeble creative content and having minimal affect on pop and film culture as a whole, but what followed at #14 (Jurassic Park), #15 (Schindler’s List), #16 (The Lost World), #18 (Saving Private Ryan), #20 (Minority Report), #21 (Catch Me If You Can), and #24 (Munich) aren’t exactly the works of a weakened artist.

Tarantino’s 9th film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, streets on home video next week, and it’ll be interesting to see if this is the cultural event inferred by the ad pap, and why its reception among filmgoers and critics was divided.

But coming next: Severin Films rescues the preposterous shocker Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory / Lycanthropus (1961) on Blu, and a podcast interview with film historian Jason Pichonsky on the restoration of Julian Roffman’s feature film debut, The Bloody Brood (1959), the latter reviewed in tandem with John Huston’s worst film, the CanCon stinker Phobia (1980), both on DVD & Blu from KINO.

And in the works: a blog on whether it’s possible to watch, and enjoy, a film on laserdisc in a 1080p environment using a mish-mash of old consumer, broadcast, and relatively new gear.

Thanks for reading,



Mark R. Hasan, Editor


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