Browsing IMDB last night, I noticed that Catch Me If You Can is credited as the closing chapter of Spielberg’s unofficial ‘Running Man’ Trilogy. The other two films in the trio are AI and Minority Report.
Spielberg has made a few loose trilogies during his career, the director bonding films together by theme, subject and mood. These are listed below.
Running Man - AI, Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can
All are films about characters running from and to things. David, Anderton and Frank are fleeing the law but also chasing a dream; David the dream of becoming a real boy, Anderton the dream that his son is still alive and Frank the dream that his parents will get back together. By the end of the films, these dreams have been recognised by the audience and characters as futile and, in many ways, destructive.
War - Empire of the Sun, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan
Each film takes on a different literal and thematic aspect of WWII. Empire of the Sun is set in a POW camp and is about the death of innocence; Schindler’s List is set around the Holocaust and is about the survival of hope in dark times and Saving Private Ryan is set around the conflict itself and is about memorialising those who lost their lives.
Suburbia - Close Encounters, E.T., Poltergeist
This is a trilogy mentioned by Andrew M Gordon in his book Empire of Dreams and, of course, it rests upon Poltergeist being credited as Spielberg’s film and not Tobe Hooper’s. All the movies in this trilogy are set in suburban households, but whereas Close Encounters and E.T. are hopeful, Poltergeist shows suburbia as a source of horror.
Terror - The Terminal, War of the Worlds, Munich
All take on a different aspect of the War on Terror. The Terminal focuses on the distrust of foreigners that rose in America after 9/11 and asks us to question the American Dream. War of the Worlds focuses on the visceral horror of the attacks and asks us to question the nature of screen violence. Munich focuses on the response to the terror attacks at the Munich Olympics in 1972 and asks us to question the morality of revenge.
You could also group Duel, Jaws and Jurassic Park as Spielberg’s ‘Monster’ Trilogy, but to do so you’d have to ignore The Lost World: Jurassic Park, so it doesn’t really work.