Kirkus Reviews QR Code


A Biography

by Joseph McBride

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-81167-7
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 A penetrating, incisive biography of the young but already legendary filmmaker. Perhaps nothing reveals the importance of Spielberg (Schindler's List, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, etc.) at this moment in film history more than that this is the second full- scale work on the artist in as many months (see John Baxter, p. 181). But there is no contest. McBride, the author of Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success (1992), a landmark in film biography, leaves Baxter in the dust. McBride combines extensive research into Spielberg's life with lucid, well-considered analyses of his films, discovering in them a depth and originality that will surprise even Spielberg's greatest fans. McBride devotes nearly half the book to a consideration of Spielberg's childhood and his early evolution as an artist. He patiently debunks many of the myths generated by Spielberg himself and examines the ways in which his troubled early years manifest themselves in his work. For example, McBride demonstrates that the filmmaker's relationship with his eccentric mother and frequently absent father are reflected in even such apparently impersonal work as the Indiana Jones movies. Then McBride details the making of each of Spielberg's films and critiques them with vivid insight. His impassioned defense of such problematic works as The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun make the reader want to see them again. If, in the book's second half, the public persona dominates the private life, that's an accurate reflection of a man who increasingly seems to exist most fully and comfortably in his work. McBride leaves Spielberg as he, David Geffen, and Jeffrey Katzenberg establish a new studio, DreamWorks. Film history at its best: rich in information, often dazzling in perception. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)