Spiel­berg on His Child­hood Imag­i­na­tion

Steven Spiel­berg, at 70, main­tains that deep down he’s still a child

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Cover - BY DIETER OSSWALD

IN BOX-OF­FICE terms, Spiel­berg, who turned 70 on De­cem­ber 18, is the most suc­cess­ful movie di­rec­tor in the world. Jaws, E.T. the Ex­tra-Ter­res­trial, In­di­ana Jones … his movies are cinema clas­sics. But along­side th­ese pop­corn-sagas he has also turned his hand to sterner stuff. Movie­go­ers all over the world found his black-and-white Holo­caust drama Schindler’s List deeply mov­ing. Last year saw the re­lease of The BFG (short for Big Friendly Gi­ant), a movie ver­sion of the chil­dren’s book by Roald Dahl in which a benev­o­lent gi­ant ‘kid­naps’ a lit­tle or­phan girl.

Reader’s Digest: The lit­tle hero­ine of your lat­est movie is scared of gi­ants. What were you afraid of when you

were a child? Spiel­berg: I was my own mon­ster. My imag­i­na­tion was in­cred­i­ble, so I was afraid of every­thing. A chair could very quickly change into a spi­der. I re­mem­ber star­ing up at the sky when I was five. One of the clouds up there looked like a beau­ti­ful swan,

then sud­denly it was a di­nosaur. I ran home scream­ing.

What did your par­ents feel about

that? For my par­ents my imag­i­na­tion was a real prob­lem, so much so that they se­ri­ously con­sid­ered hav­ing me ex­am­ined by a doc­tor. Af­ter all I was con­stantly see­ing things that didn’t ex­ist ex­cept in my head. My mother and fa­ther thought I had some ma­jor men­tal prob­lems. I prob­a­bly did – but they were the gate­way to a great ca­reer!

How im­por­tant is it for you to pre­serve

the child within? The fas­ci­nat­ing thing about chil­dren is that they’re just there. When they’re small, they don’t know right from wrong­– it’s not im­por­tant to them. Those are years of com­plete free­dom, which come to an end when at some point the brain takes over and tells you how to be­have. I re­mem­ber that time very clearly.

You turned 70 this past De­cem­ber. What do you con­sider your great­est

ca­reer achieve­ment so far? The right to de­cide my own projects. That was ­al­ways my only goal, telling my sto­ries with­out any­one else in­ter­fer­ing. It was also why I es­tab­lished my own stu­dios. Artis­tic free­dom means every­thing to me.

Which movie did you en­joy mak­ing

most? That was E.T. the Ex­tra-Ter­res­trial, be­cause it was the first time I re­alised I wanted to be a fa­ther. Three years later I fi­nally made the grade with the birth of my first son.

Do you make home movies? Yes, I al­ways have a video cam­era with me. At Christ­mas it’s tra­di­tional for there to be a joint movie about the fam­ily that lasts one hour. I edit the footage I’ve col­lected in the course of the year and com­bine it with our chil­dren’s videos. And of course there’s a sound­track and spe­cial ef­fects. We all watch the film to­gether and ev­ery­one gets a DVD of it.

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