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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

AFICIONADO PREVIEW: STEVEN SPIELBERG - 'THE SOUTH BANK SHOW ORIGINALS'

Master of fantasy: Steven Spielberg - in 1982 conversation with THE SOUTH BANK SHOW. Image: SKY ARTS 1/LWT.

James Cameron may have joyfully self-proclaimed himself "King of the World" back in 1997 for the incredible success of ship meets iceberg drama TITANIC, but director and entrepreneur Steven Spielberg pipped him to the post long before, what with his into the eighties quadruple whammy box office blockbuster hits of JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (his first collaboration with friend of many years, George Lucas), and, by 1982, the phenomenally popular, a boy and his inter-galactic Lassie, long-time box office number one reigning E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL. It was in that very special and iconic year that the UK's top television arts programme, THE SOUTH BANK SHOW, fronted and edited by Melvyn Bragg, managed to catch Spielberg for a very insightful and memorable interview about his life and career up to that point. Never previously repeated after its original ratings-winning, late Sunday-night airing, parts of that terrific programme have now been put together by its original presenter for a half-hour retrospective, within a special classics revisited season (bearing the moniker "Originals"), airing on the UK's SKY ARTS 1 HD programme next Thursday 31st July, 2014, at 9.30pm.

This revised edition sadly misses out on the detailed look at the start of his television career (especially linked to projects like NIGHT GALLERY- his famously acknowledged directing of Joan Crawford at such a young age, and the incredible on the map success emerging from his nightmare road movie DUEL), though his interest in films from a very early age is included (literally recreating indelible scenes with his toys (especially trains!), filming them to notable effect). From there, we then pretty much go straight to the main four films that would make him such a seminal force in the industry, with showcase clips alongside Spielberg's talking about the genesis of each one, the selection of certain techniques to realize them, how certain classic scenes came to be, and how E.T. was his (then) most personal and relatable film to date. Spielberg is serious yet funny, intelligent and exuberant in this classic material- still the kidult and not yet the kind of settled and serious creative conglomerate he would be by the mid-nineties. Here's a guy who just loves making motion pictures that will genuinely entertain and live forever in people's hearts and as part of entertainment history. Flashing forward to the now, Bragg recalls his positive time and meetings with Spielberg, the American director already aware of the arts show critical reputation at that tine, and there's an additional contribution that will interest STAR WARS spin-off movie fans from rising star UK talent Gareth Edwards, the man behind the recent re-imagining of GODZILLA, talking on and off about his favourite Spielberg movie scenes and how he has been such an instrumental creative force in shaping his own career as a film-maker.

AFICIONADO REVIEW: Being honest, the original version of this "Original" could, and should, have been repeated in its entirety, but what's been selected within this half-hour is certainly enjoyable, informative, and well worth a look. 3 out of 5

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