Earlier this year, my friend Matt Patches put together a feature at UGO about what he called "The Spielberg Face," a recurring moment in just about all of Spielberg's films in which a character is struck silent in wonder when seeing something or understanding for the first time. The most memorable examples are Richard Dreyfuss seeing the aliens exit the ship Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Laura Dern and Sam Neill seeing the dinosaurs for the first time in Jurassic Park, or Oskar Schindler noticing the girl in the red coat in Schindler's List. But Spielberg has used the technique in almost all of his movies, and now the people at Fandor have done Patches one better by putting together a video essay with all the examples, and explanation of why Spielberg returns to them again and again.


They're totally correct in pointing out Close Encounters as the breakthrough of the Spielberg Face, as that movie is completely full of people discovering something marvelous for the time, and allows Richard Dreyfuss to gaze off into the distance pretty much nonstop. But what's remarkable is how differently he manages to use the face-- in Saving Private Ryan it captures the brutality of war, but in E.T. it's all about magical childhood feelings. In a way the Spielberg Face sums up the power of Spielberg's films in general-- he believes so much in his characters, and wants you fully engaged in the wonder or horror of what they're experiencing. Every use of the Spielberg Face allows the audience a way into the story, whether it's experiencing the devastation of battle or the incredible sight of an alien spaceship. It makes his giant blockbuster spectacles relatable in a way few others are.

Watch the entire video, please, and keep an eye here for a forthcoming review of The Adventures of Tintin-- the best use of the Spielberg Face in years, if you ask me.

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