1. Spielberg has attracted polemical attention for his films over the years. The most notable was various attacks on the portrayal of Palestinians in Munich. (see Wieseltier). [return to essay]

2. The right-wing columnist David Brook, in one of his NewsHour appearances, describes the passage of the 13th Amendment as an exercise in bipartisanship that should inspire the current president Obama to greater efforts to reach out to current Republicans. But it is easily countered that the lesson for Obama is Spielberg’s portrayal of Lincoln’s refusal to give in to the Southern peace negotiators.

3. Spielberg’s famous continuing motif in all his stories is the absent and/or flawed father. It is hard to ignore that Darryl Zanuck has become Spielberg’s unmentioned mentor. Of course Darryl was the biological father of Spielberg’s early producer and mentor; the late Richard Zanuck. Spielberg increasingly tackles serious stories that resonate across two cultural moments with the great productions of the elder Zanuck ranging from I Am A Fugitive from a Chain Gang (dir. LeRoy 1932) to Gentlemen’s Agreement (dir. Kazan 1947).

Works cited

Cahiers du Cinema Editors. “John Ford’s Young Man Lincoln.” In Narrative, Apparatus and Ideology: A Film Theory Reader. Edited by Philip Rosen, 444-482. New York: Columbia University Press, 1970/1986.

Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006.

McBride, Joseph. Steven Spielberg : A Biography Second Edition. Jackson MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2011.

Morris, Nigel. The Cinema of Steven Spielberg: Empire of Light. New York: Wallflower Press, 2007.

Wieseltier, Leon. “Hits.” The New Republic. 233(4) December 19, 2005. 38.

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