Friday, 25 July 2014

Top 6 Underated Spielberg Moments

Unquestionably Steven Spielberg is one of a small amount of directors to achieve the status of a master director in his lifetime and to look at his back catalogue it is easy to understand why and over the years his films have featured countless memorable moments. However for every mash potato mountain, surprise shark appearance, boulder dash and bunch of kids managing to elude the FBI on BMX's (geez are they on steroids or something) there have been numerous moments which for one reason of another never seem to get a mention when discussing Spielberg's films.

So as part of French Toast Sunday's "Speilberg In July" I will now try and honour some of these overlooked moments, so please allow me to present you with my top 6 underrated Spielberg moments!

Hook - Captain Hook's Suicide Attempt

A surprising moment sneaked into what is supposed to be a family film, because we all know nothing says family entertainment like a beloved childhood character trying to kill themselves. Still Spielberg rolled the dice with this scene and it works, while unquestionably helped by having two titans like Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins in the scene ensuring that a pretty black humoured joke comes off pitch perfect, while the back and forth banter between Hook and Smeed only further adds to the fun. No doubt because of how well the scene works no one questioned its inclusion unlike the opening of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" which despite also being a family film memorably opened with a hanging.

Jurassic Park - Flea Circus

Unquestionably this film still holds up even now as here Spielberg gives a film unquestionably dripping in spectacle and wonder as well as one whose set pieces are still as exciting to watch even after repeat viewings. However I personally always loved this scene were John Hammond talks about his flea circus and while it might seem like a throwaway scene, it is one that Richard Attenborough truly sells on its pure simplicity. At the same time it serves to highlight the sheer delusion of Hammond who even at this point in the film with the park currently in chaos (as this scene shows) believes that he can control his creation, only for Ellie (Laura Dern) to give him a swift reality check.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park - Sarah Hits The Glass

True I was going to go with the truly random scene were the raptor is knocked through a window via gymnastics, but instead opted for this scene, just because you genuinely wonder how they will survive this. The key shot here is when the trailer first goes off the cliff and you see the back door fly off leaving a seemingly open void to fall through. Needless to say this shot caught a lot of people out on their original viewing, but on repeat viewing the slowly cracking glass makes it such a great moment and one reminiscent of the glass cracking in "The Abyss".

Jaws - Give Us A Kiss

The film which still today makes me weary about swimming in the sea and host to numerous classic moments, meaning that this scene far too often gets overlooked which is kind of a shame as with the spot on casting of the Brody family, you truly believed that they were a family and none more so during this scene. Honestly though I never appreciated until I had kids of my own and now its easily one of my favourite moments of the film and one which perfectly frames Chief Brody's frame of mind at this point of the film were he is pretty much defeated in his attempts to warn the town of the danger lurking in the waters around Amity.

This is a scene which could have easily been overplayed or drenched in smaltz, but thankfully here it is played straight, allowing the natural playful humour to shine through providing a slight moment of light relief from the bloody carnage the shark is carving through the town.

Schindler's list - Shower Scene

Unquestionably the most powerful of Spielberg's films it unquestionably pulls no punches with it handling of the profile of Oscar Schindler and its portrayal of the holocaust. So powerful and moving is this film that I have only twice managed to sit through it in one sitting, normally requiring a break to calm myself before returning to the second half. At the same time it is a film packed with so many memorable moments including most famously the little girl in the red coat, that it is hardly surprising that this scene is so often forgotten.

Resting on the suggestion that we are watching this group of ladies being prepared for their death in the gas chambers disguised as a shower block, there is an unquestionably sense of dread which runs throughout the scene as Spielberg slowly cranks up the tension to the point that it is the same relief these ladies feel when water comes from the showers that the audience also feel. Here we clearly see a master working at the height of his powers.

War of The Worlds - Ferry Attack

For years the Spielberg rumour mill was a buzz with talk of his adaption being a true to the source novel including the turn of the century setting, so it was kind of a disappointment when he finally gave us his adaptation that it was like the previous film adaptation set in modern times. Still atleast he did finally give us the tripods (even though the flying ships were equally cool) and managed to hit many of the main plot points missing from the previous version including this scene which originally I thought would see the appearance of the battleship HMS Thunder Child in one of my favourite moments of the book, though sadly it was not to be.

What we do get instead is one of the most surprisingly tense and realistic moments of the film and one Spielberg helped generate fear in his actors by playing the "Jaws" theme underwater and I think its safe to say it worked pretty darn well even if the rest of the film was pretty forgettable.

So there you have my top 6, but what would make your list? Let me know in the comments section below.

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