Steven Allan Spielberg was born on December 18, 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio. His mother, Leah Adler, she was a pianist and restorer. His father, Arnold, an electrical engineer from General Electric who helped develop components for the first computers. As the writer and journalist Daniel Lehman quoted on his blog: “His family moved several times when he was a child, from Ohio to New Jersey and from Arizona to California. While her mother was lenient with her interests, her father was emotionally distant and they did not have a good relationship. He has even said that he never gave his approval, until co-workers approached him and said that they had seen his son’s movies and that they really liked them. “ As reported by correspondent Anthony Breznican for Vanity Fair, the couple divorced when Steven was 19, and the separation hit him hard. “In addition to the wonders and mysteries of the universe, the other driving force behind many of the filmmaker’s stories is the longing to put a family back together,” explained.
During his teens, Spielberg became fond of filming 8mm stories with his friends. In 1964, at the age of sixteen, he wrote and directed his first independent film, a 135-minute sci-fi adventure called Firelight (which would later inspire the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind). It was screened in a local cinema in Phoenix, Arizona, had a budget of 500 dollars and at that time managed to raise 501, which generated a profit of one dollar. But his true career began when he entered Universal Studios as an unpaid intern within the editing department. There he would manage to take his first steps that, several years later, would lead him to make millionaire blockbusters with the most important stars in the acting world. His inexhaustible arsenal of ideas was present even in his first years of life and his imprint did not hesitate when producing stories that managed to make a place among the most unforgettable and endearing ever developed.
His early science fiction and adventure films, such as Shark (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), the franchise of Indiana Jones, ET, the alien (1982) and Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park, 1993) are considered archetypes of the Hollywood modern. But his productions also tackled humanist themes such as the Holocaust, the slave trade, civil and political rights, war and terrorism; on tapes like The color purple (1985), The Sun’s empire (1987), Schindler’s List (1993), Friendship (1997), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Munich (2005), War Horse (2011), Lincoln (2012) the Bridge of spies (2015). For all these pieces he was nominated several times for the Oscars in the category of best director, and won the award twice, with Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. In turn, three of his stories (that of the shark, that of the extraterrestrial and that of the dinosaurs) achieved box office records when they were released and became true mass phenomena, to the point of positioning themselves as the most convincing attractions of the theme park from Universal Studios located at Orlando, Florida.
And when it comes to working with stars, Spielberg had the luxury of directing Leonardo DiCaprio y Tom Hanks on Catch Me If You Can in 2002, the year in which he also premiered Minority Report with Tom Cruise y Colin Farrell. In 2004, he handed the lead back to Hanks, but this time in The terminal. In addition, as if that were not enough, on October 12, 1994 he founded the film studio DreamWorks SKG with his friends David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, which he ended up selling in February 2006 but which, during his tenure, was responsible for films such as: American Beauty (1999), Gladiator (2000), Castaway (2000) and Memories of a Geisha (2005); and animations like Shrek (2001) and Madagascar (2005), among others. Probably, the list falls short if we consider that he also created two video game sagas: Medal of Honor and Boom Blox. But it is worth clarifying that, among the cataract of successes, there are also some creations questioned by both critics and the audience, as happened with AI Artificial intelligence (2001), a tribute to Stanley Kubrick it wasn’t all applause. However, on the total balance, there is no doubt that the numbers favor him by a wide margin.
They rejected him at two universities
As a teenager, Spielberg attended Arcadia High School in Phoenix for three years, eventually graduating in 1965 from Saratoga High School in California. But when it came time for academic training, he found the doors closing in his wake. Both the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) as the University of Southern California (USC), two prestigious universities where the cinematography career is dictated, rejected it. Finally, he was accepted into the California State University on Long Beach, where he obtained his degree only in 2002, after resuming his studies after leaving them for a long period. And although it may be surprising, the truth is that the two refusals to his request were well founded: his grades in high school were poor, he hated going to school, and he suffered from dyslexia, which was later diagnosed. He just wanted to make movies. By the voracious standards set by Nordic institutions, he was not an eligible candidate.
As explained by columnist Jay Mathews for the Washington Post, who takes up the words of the book “Steven Spielberg: A Biography (Second Edition)” Written by Joseph McBride, the director’s mother, a free spirit with artistic talent, she gave free rein to her calling. “She was so tolerant of her son’s lack of interest in school that she often let him stay home, pretending to be sick, so he could edit his films,” wrote the author of the biography, adding: “Even his father, even though he was upset by Steven’s grades, used to do his science homework for him.” These circumstances in the development of the artist’s life did not go unnoticed, to the point that Stacy Berg Dale and Alan Krueger, two renowned American scholars, used his name to describe a surprising aspect of their research on selective university attendance.
According to Mathews, professionals “They found that students admitted to demanding colleges, but ultimately attending less selective schools, were doing just as well financially 20 years later as those who had been admitted to strict institutions relative to admission. The researchers then concluded that it was character strengths that mattered, not the name of the university on your diploma. “ On the other hand, Dale and Krueger were also surprised to find that many applicants rejected by selective schools were as successful in their careers as those accepted, and called it “The Spielberg effect”, where they speculated that the strong sense of purpose it was what made them transcend in their professions.
The bond with his father
“I first became aware of the sky when my father pointed out the Perseid meteor shower. I was about six years old and lived in Haddon Heights, New Jersey ”, Spielberg said in an interview in 2005, adding: “My father really had the key to the universe that opened my imagination, I give him full credit for that. He was an electrical engineer but also an amateur astronomer. He loved reading science fiction and it led me to these wonders of both nature and fiction. “ This fragment was recovered in Breznican’s note for Vanity Fair, who explained that the director’s films resonate so deeply with audiences because they refer to the “familiar”, even the most fantastic. “From very early in my career, everyone told me that I never made personal films, that I only made these great concept films. I always felt that they were all personal, because I never filmed one in which a part of the story did not come from some experience that I shared with my family “, the filmmaker knew how to say.
Arnold Spielberg, his father, married Leah Posner (1920-2017) in 1945 and had four children: Steven, Anne, Nancy y Sue. He died of natural causes on August 25, 2020, at the age of 103. Several articles agree that the divorce of his parents had a determining effect on the filmmaker’s filmography, especially because after it, he and his father also had a 15-year break during which they barely spoke. “His films contain a surprising degree of thematic unity that focuses on human relationships and the repaired and broken family model. The director has said that in fiction he tried to create the warm domestic environment that was absent in his childhood “, Lehman detailed on his blog, adding: “The absence of a father often requires the presence of a surrogate figure at work. This technique is used in Crazy Evasion (The Sugarland Express) and Saving Private Ryan, but it is also present in ET and Catch Me If You Can ”. Over time they were able to rebuild their relationship and Arnold managed to spend his last years of life surrounded by the affection and support of his children.
But what is Spielberg up to?
He is currently the owner of Amblin Entertainment, a film and television production company founded in 1981 by the director and two colleagues, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy. Its logo is the famous silhouette of ET and Eliott’s flight with the full moon in the background. The company has several premieres projected in the short term, among them, The Haunting of Bly Manor, a supernatural horror drama series co-produced with Paramount Television, which will be seen from October 9 on Netflix. But for the main course we will have to wait until April 2021 when it hits theaters. Bios, a science fiction drama film starring Tom Hanks, who will play an inventor, the last man on Earth, who builds an android to ensure the protection of his dog in a post-apocalyptic world. Fortunately, Spielberg continues to work to fill the screens with excitement, setting his own story of reference after having achieved the most incredible of his hallmarks: that it is almost impossible to look at the moon and not expect a bicycle to cross.
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What happened to the life of Steven Spielberg, the unique director who was rejected at two film universities?