Three Life Lessons Steven Spielberg Films Have Taught Me

Spielberg Films

Greetings, readers, @Indy_Filmmaker here! Happy Anniversary! This week marks three cinematic anniversaries for three mammoth Steven Spielberg films: Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and Jurassic Park, and because these films all helped shape the modern blockbuster, each having a significant cultural impact, and because I am a huge Spielberg fan, filmmaker, and story nerd,  I’d love to have a minute of your time to share lessons I’ve learned from these influential Spielberg films.

I was born in the late 1980s but grew up mainly in the ’90s. So, growing up, I had a modest collection of VHS tapes of my favorite Speilberg films. Some I recorded from broadcast airings, and some of them my parents purchased from the store. I would sit in front of my Zenith television/VCR and watch film after film. But I wouldn’t realize until later, but I think what brought me back to these stories every time wasn’t the dinosaurs, temples, or aliens; it was the heart at the center of these films that captured my attention. 

RELATED: Jurassic Park: 27 Years Later, Life Still Finds A Way

Anniversary #1: Raiders of the Lost Ark (June 12th, 1981)

Indiana Jones is a bounty hunting, anti-hero, and obtainer of rare antiquities. He starts the story being ruthlessly double-crossed, showing the audience that he will not be able to trust anyone. Yet, as the story goes on, Indy’s reliance on his allies continues to grow. Marcus Brody sets him up with the government, Marion wants to be his partner, and Sallah his guide. Indy struggles with these relationships throughout the film—he even threatens to blow the ark sky high just for Marion, but ultimately fails to go through with it. In the end, though, Indy doesn’t get his prize, or does he? Indy ends up taking off with Marion at the end of the film, a relationship that was genuinely lost some time ago. You see, Raiders taught me that our relationships mean more than the greatest of treasures. 

Anniversary #2: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (June 11th, 1982)

And those relationships can come from anywhere. On its surface, E.T. Is about a young boy, Elliott, and his struggles with his parents’ divorce, him being the youngest sibling, and also being an older brother, but at its core, this film has a much broader message. Throughout the film, Elliot discovers he has a mysterious connection with E.T. In fact, the two have a lot in common. His parents abandon E.T., and one could argue Elliott is feeling the same way about his father. Each fills a hole in the other’s life regardless of how different they are. But that’s the thing about friendships; they can come from even the most unexpected places.

Anniversary #3: Jurassic Park (June 11th, 1993)

You could say they’re chaotic, which brings up Jurassic Park, a film about nature, chaos theory, and man-eating dinosaurs, right? Well, yes, but also something more profound. You see, I view Alan Grant as this film’s main protagonist. Grant is an anti-technology control freak who dislikes children. Like myself, he is uncomfortable with change in his daily routine and gets quite grumpy if that routine is thrown off. So his character’s arch throughout the film stands to be the most predominant. Grant ends up being a father to Hammond’s grandchildren, surviving a chaotic dino escape, and escaping with a new outlook: change, especially where relationships are concerned, can be a great thing.

In conclusion:

In times like these, I hope you settle in with your friends, family, or loved ones, pop one of these classic Speilberg films on, and let their positive messages inspire you. I hope you can not just look at them as popcorn schlock, but as masterful cinema that is capable of emotional catharsis. Be kind to one another, even if you don’t agree with each other. Appreciate that we are not alone in this world. Embrace change as we move forward. 

That’s it for me this week. As always, if you agree or disagree with me, let me know in the comments. Stay safe, everyone! Happy Spiel-versary! And in the words of E.T., “Be good.”

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James Burns

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