March 10, 2016

30 of Steven Spielberg's Most Iconic Shots from Each of His Films

Steven Spielberg has been in the game for a good 45 years, and in that time he has managed to win 3 Oscars, establish the archetype for Hollywood blockbusters, and direct 30 feature-length films.

That's right, Spielberg's films are to cinema what apple pie is to America — and not just because of the stories and characters alone, though that's what he's known for. Working with talented DPs like Janusz Kamiński, he has managed to capture some of the most iconic images ever put up on the big screen, and this video by Jacob T. Swinney celebrates one from each of his 30 films. Enjoy!

When we think of Spielberg we typically don't think of cinematography. His style, if you can call it that, is incredibly subtle, invisible, and refuses to call attention to itself. He does, however, have cinematographic trademarks, like the long take (or oner), tracking shots, as well as several others

So, how has Spielberg managed to create some of the most recognizable images ever shown on a movie screen? I mean, granted, that shot in E.T. where Elliott and E.T. are silhouetted against the moon as they pedal towards freedom is pretty epic (it became the logo for Amblin, Spielberg's production company), but what about the others? 

Indiana Jones about to do the ol' sandbag switcheroo in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Ripples in a plastic cup? A worm's-eye-view of a woman swimming in the ocean? Why are these shots so memorable?

Maybe the answer lies in the fact that Spielberg, at least earlier on in his career, brought the necessary ingredients to the table: great story, great characters, and great cinematography. So, in other words, it wasn't just the shots themselves that were iconic, but rather the combination of all of these elements together.

The shots are like fond memories that bring us back to a time we hold dear, or remind us of an experience we once had. Spielberg did this particularly well — and with just one single shot.      

Your Comment

6 Comments

A lot of lovely silhouette shots

March 10, 2016 at 11:57PM

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Joe Ludwig
Editor/Animator
80

Beautiful. Thank you.

March 11, 2016 at 4:22AM

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Bryan
Cinematographer / Editor
88

Bangarang!

March 11, 2016 at 10:57AM

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Danny T
Photographer
554

He is a master of mixing shots that show what's happening with shots that allow your imagination to take over. Jurassic Park had an excellent balance of both...the raptor feeding, the T-rex coming through the fence, the attack in the Jeep, all imagination shots.

Jaws had a lot of shots like that as well, underwater swimming combined with boiling red water. Excellent for building suspense.

March 12, 2016 at 12:34AM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
376

Lovely shots

March 12, 2016 at 12:10PM, Edited March 12, 12:10PM

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Speed Post Tracking
Lighting Assistant
161

I recognize fewer than half of those films - time to go watch some Spielberg films! The complete list is on this video's page: https://vimeo.com/157222602

March 13, 2016 at 1:04AM, Edited March 13, 1:04AM

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Suzie Park
Director & DP
142