With a career spanning more than four decades, Steven Spielberg has a number of Hollywood box office hits under his belt. Whether it’s soldiers, dinosaurs, or aliens, the US director has a talent for bringing any character to life. As US author Dean Kowalski put it, “Few movie directors have had a greater impact on popular culture than Steven Spielberg.”
His latest work Ready Player One was released in Chinese mainland cinemas on March 30. The sci-fi adventure scored 9.2 out of 10 on Chinese movie review platform Douban.
The movie tells a story set in 2045 about people who escape their tough reality by visiting a virtual world where imagination is the only limit. Ready Player One poses a question to its characters, and indeed to those who watch it: With a readily available world of fantasy to escape to, is it possible to strike a balance between real life and virtual reality?
In the film, people find it hard to say goodbye to their virtual life every night, because “the world of 2045 can no longer provide the social interaction and human connection they crave”, the Guardian noted.
This is a typical way Spielberg reflects both reality and humanity through his movies, drawing attention to how society could possibly change to work better.
The 71-year-old director believes that “the way you create a better future is by studying the past”, as he said during a speech at Harvard University in 2016.
His Jewish roots and his father’s experience as a soldier in World War II encouraged him to study the history of the Holocaust. In Schindler’s List (1993), Spielberg tells the story of this terrible incident through the eyes of German industrialist Oskar Schindler.
The director feels that one of the most fulfilling things in his career is having “the public discussing history again”, he told the National Endowment for the Humanities.
One of Spielberg’s best-known works, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), even presents sentiments about the Cold War through the loving story of a child and an alien from outer space. “If a young boy can bond with a life-form from a distant world, there is absolutely hope for one to be at peace with his fellow man, sharing the same small planet,” Matthew Honovic of Long Island Film Society commented.
To the average person, Spielberg’s movies are nothing more than entertainment. “However different their subjects, his productions have a common thematic DNA of humanity, so we are enlightened as well as entertained,” Tom Brokaw of Time magazine wrote. “The power of his films remained long after the closing credits, and so it is with his career.”