Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster

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Overall, I found Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster by Warren Buckland, to be a very informative read. Going into the book, I really did not know much about Steven Spielberg. I was aware that he had directed some of my favorite films, such as Catch Me If You Can, Saving Private Ryan, and War of the Worlds, and that the name Spielberg is synonymous with the Hollywood blockbuster, but really never considered taking a deeper look into Spielberg's visual style or speculated as to what makes his films so successful. It seems to me that very commonly, someone is comparing a film to one of Spielberg's blockbusters to measure its success. Probably because Spielberg produces successful blockbusters on a more consistent basis than anyone else out there.

In the book, Buckland takes a deep look into the way Spielberg manipulates the form of his films including the use of stylistic and narrative techniques and does a good job of demonstrating the way Spielberg structures his blockbusters. Some of the techniques that come to mind are the way Spielberg uses wide lenses and very dramatic over the shoulder shots. His use of a wide lens in filming over the shoulder of the protagonist gives of a feeling of dominance.

It was interesting to see the role a powerful and extremely successful director plays in making a film and the amount of work that can go into a Spielberg movie. He made it sound like Spielberg took pride in doing things he really didn't have to and played a part in every decision that needed to be made such as visualizing the film via storyboards, and deciding how to narrate the story to the audience, to deciding camera movement and placement. At one point, Buckland simplifies the definition of a blockbuster to roughly a paragraph stating it dates back to when studios controlled every aspect of a film from production to distribution. Essentially coming down to how much money is spent on a film, and...
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