My Golden Era Film Family
My Great Aunt* and Great Uncle, both working actors (one a silent film star in the era of Mary Pickford) also produced her own films (and her husband, My Great Uncle) sometimes directed them. My Golden Era famous Great Aunt* has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame due to her extensive silent film career. It used to be right in front of a porn theater, “the Pussycat” though even that, is gone now. Her star remains, but few know of her status as a woman trailblazer in Hollywood’s early days. I used to joke that getting into Hollywood wasn’t easy for me, because my relatives were either dead or completely forgotten. I started as a secretary at Kodak Films, just a few blocks away from the studios where my relatives used to work. Just steps away from the doors of Paramount Studios, when it used to be called TRIANGLE PICTURES. But I will leave that story for another day.
As the story of this seemingly typical American family unfolds, it is apparent from the start you have been invited into the personal story of a Hollywood Icon: Steven Spielberg. We understand his feelings of being different, acting as the observer, yet wanting to belong. It is a common thread in all of our stories growing up. Mr. Spielberg shares his family secrets in a sensitive and honest way. He also handles some difficult topics like ‘anti-semitism’ that still has relevance today. The early 1960’s era of his high school years exist in a bubble before the Vietnam war consumed the later years of the decade. I was reminded of that innocent time as I watched the high schoolers head to the beach. Many of these boys would head to the war front and never return.
The Story of a Lifetime
You could understand why it took him so long to tell it.
Holding the film together is the singular story of the young Spielberg’s appreciation, obsession and devotion to the art of filmmaking, starting with the crashing of his childhood train set, a high school beach party and a war film complete with a lone hero at the end. He discovers that he has a certain power to tell a story the way he wants it while paying attention to the horizon line.
The stark difference between the East Coast tight knit Jewish community that was both familiar and welcoming is compared to the landscape of Arizona and later Northern California. There is a stark contrast with the atmosphere to each place that is beautifully rendered by the scenic and costume designs. The lighting and mood of the weather also became a metaphor for the inner life of family as it begins to fall apart from the inside out. There is a moment when we begin to see that the love is always there; the individuals that are each unique and traveling along their own path. Always, the family encourages the leading man (Speilberg) to continue on his own path. We all know, where that led.