“It’s about life and saying it while you’re here and doing it while you can.”
This is Spielberg discussing Always, one of his most overlooked pictures, but also one of his most important - if for nothing else than this quote. All Spielberg’s films are, up to a point, about “doing it while you can”, but with Always it became a fully formed theme.
Look, for example, at Last Crusade, in which Indy realises he has to make peace with his father while he still can, or Hook, in which Peter Banning realises he has to spend time with his kids while he still can. In Jurassic Park, Alan Grant has a similar experience after narrowly avoiding death in the park.
The theme can also be seen in Spielberg’s serious films. Oskar Schindler realises he has to take action against the Nazis and regrets not doing so sooner in Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan is almost entirely about the transience of life and “earning it” while you can.
Always may not be one of Spielberg’s better achievements, but it is a starting off point from which great things would emerge.
When Tom Hanks’s character tells the rest of the unit what he does for a living back at home, Hanks’ speech was much longer in the original script. But Hanks felt that his character wouldn’t have said so much about himself, and he told director Steven Spielberg so. Spielberg agreed, and the speech was shortened.
Janusz Kaminski, who has shot all of Spielberg’s films since Schindler’s List, gives his thoughts on some of his most famous images in this fascinating interview with Vulture.
Minority Report, A.I., Catch Me If You Can and Saving Private Ryan are among the films mentioned, and Kaminski has some very interesting things to say.
Of the above shot from Minority Report, he explains:
“It’s just a gorgeous shot of two lost people. I used a bluish side light, which to some degree glamorized them, but also made them very lonely and alienated from the rest of the scene. You work in metaphors through lights and composition, and the worst thing for me is to see a movie that doesn’t have that. You see a cinematographer’s work and there are no visual metaphors, or they are so afraid to create a style that it just becomes this nothing.”
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