The director received the honorary Golden Bear from the German festival, and is the protagonist of a Tribute which was an opportunity for the German public to see many of his masterpieces again. Here’s what he told, enthusiastic and generous, to the press present at the Berlin Film Festival.
“If you’re all so interested in talking to me, it means I must have done two or three things right over the years”dice Steven Spielberg smiling. He has just extended the meeting with the press present at the Berlin Film Festivalwhich this year awarded him theGolden Bear for Lifetime Achievement has dedicated a retrospective tribute to him. A meeting that was the occasion for Spielberg to tell and tell.
“I don’t think anything has changed in me since I started directing”, begins the author of countless masterpieces, one of the greatest and most influential directors of our times. “I still feel within me the power of cinema that drags me along and I know many of my colleagues, I feel the same level of incredible excitement when I come up with an idea for a new film, an excitement that in my life has only been surpassed by the one for the birth of my children”.
Children. Some of them, Spielberg says, had returned to live with him and his wife during the toughest months of the war pandemic, those in which Spielberg felt “sequestered inside the house, and luckily my family was with me”. It was at that juncture, says the director, that he thought the time had come to tell the story that, in one way or another, he has always told, “but never in such an explicit way”. The story is obviously that of his family, that of The Fabelmans“the story of my father and my mother”.
“The pandemic,” Spielberg explains, “really scared me at first, and made me start thinking like never before about mortality, and the fact that I was getting old. I’ve been thinking about the past since my mom died six years ago, but it was at that moment that I found the courage to tell my story”.
The Fabelmanssays the director, “it was the most emotionally difficult film that it has turned (before it had been Shindler’s Listand the hardest from a physical point of view was The shark) and many times on the set I was overwhelmed by emotions”. In addition, explains Spielberg, the production of The Fabelmans it also overlapped with that of West Side Storyanother film that was close to his heart for various reasons, and the emotional and mental commitment was such that, he says, “I didn’t have time to think about what I was going to do next like I usually do, so much so that now I find myself for the first time without knowing what I’m going to work on: a beautiful and horrible feeling at the same time. I’ll spend the rest of this year wondering what I’m going to do“.
Steven Spielberg he says he doesn’t think too much about the influence it’s had on generations of moviegoers: “I don’t usually think much, as for years I’ve been making one film after another without interruption.” He says though, citing for example of The Daniels’s Everything Everywhere All at Oncetoday he finds more influence in young authors, with their audacity, than in the great masters who have guided him for years.
He talks about when his parents went to see Wild trails to the movies without him, and how he took two quarters the next day and went to the movies by himself; of when his secretary made him read the story of Richard Matheson on Playboy which turned into Duel (“the film that convinced the producers to trust me”); of how E.T. one owes to Truffaut, who told him “you have the heart of a child, and you should make a film with children”; of having chosen Janusz Kaminski as director of photography after seeing Diane Keaton’s TV movie Wild Flower (“I asked him if he felt like shooting a black and white film, he replied that in Poland, at film school, they only had money for films in black and white”).
On the scene of meeting with John Ford which closes The Fabelmans Spielberg says that “it is the most faithful to reality of the whole film, so it went word for word. For years I was ashamed of that meeting, and a little bit of what Ford had told me too, but then I understood that in that rough and brisk way he had given me an enormous gift, given great advice”.
To young or aspiring directors he certainly wouldn’t say “and now get the fuck out of here”. “IThe advice I usually give is to pay close attention to the story being told: it is the one that attracts the attention, not the shots. I advise directors to write, or to partner with good screenwriters. AND to pay attention to the details, while not worrying about the bigger things, which resolve themselves, because a film is the sum of all the details that make it up”.
But there is one thing, he says Spielbergand he has shown it in all his cinema, which is fundamental for him: “If I don’t play while I work, if I don’t have fun, something is wrong. This is why I always try to add humor to even the most tragic situations”.