The Spielberg Face

This video essay by Kevin B. Lee highlights a signature feature of director Steven Spielberg.

Whenever you watch a Spielberg movie there is a good chance you will see the camera zoom in on a character looking at something (or someone) in awe.

As the video points out it was not a new technique, but the enormous success of his movies meant that it became synonymous with the wonder of his films.

It is an effective technique as it literally draws us closer to the characters and stokes our imagination as to what is being looked at.

Perhaps it goes back to the famous “Dolly zoom” shot of Roy Scheider on the beach in Jaws (1975) where we get a disturbing close-up before cutting to glimpses of a dreadful shark attack (it’s around 2.01 in the clip below).

But the visual motif also functions as a metaphor for his career – a director who cares deeply about his audiences before providing them with something of wonder to look at.

> Transcript of the essay at Fandor
> Steven Spielberg at the IMDb, MUBi and TSFDT
> Chaos Cinema the Rise of the Avid