top of page

The Intersection Scene

Check out this list and see if you can tell what it’s for:

The Sugarland Express YES

Jaws YES

Close Encounters of the Third Kind YES

1941 NO

Raiders of the Lost Ark NO

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial YES

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom NO

The Color Purple NO

Empire of the Sun NO

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade NO

Always YES

Hook YES

Jurassic Park YES

Schindler’s List NO

The Lost World: Jurassic Park YES

Amistad NO

Saving Private Ryan NO

A.I. Artificial Intelligence NO

Minority Report NO

Catch Me if You Can NO

The Terminal YES

War of the Worlds YES

Munich NO

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull NO

The Adventures of Tintin NO

War Horse NO

Lincoln NO

Bridge of Spies NO

The BFG YES (but based on an old British book, so not really)

The Post NO

Ready Player One NO

West Side Story NO

The Fabelmans NO

Obviously this is Steven Spielberg’s directorial feature filmography.

The YES/NO answers a simple question: is it set in contemporary reality?

Of the 33 films, there are only 11 that are, and 22 that aren’t.

And of those 11, some don’t really count, like The BFG, which is based on a Roald Dahl book. And Always, people will point out, was based on a 1943 film.

Spielberg is the G.O.A.T. and a commercial genius. But his filmography basically consists of two things: fantasy worlds and history lessons, with the latter predominating as he has gotten older.

The thing about being super successful is that it makes you super famous—which makes it hard to live an everyday life. But the experiences that you have in an ordinary life are what help you, as an artist, stay connected to your audience—because they’re relatable.

Spielberg went from having one of the most typical midcentury suburban American lives imaginable (just watch The Fabelmans) to, since his twenties, having an extraordinary Famous Person Life.

So there are many reasons that people look so fondly on the first decade of his career. The films are absolute classics. But part of their power is that they are set in a contemporary America which was inspired by Spielberg’s actual existence. So they have a texture and power of observation that enhances and doubles his cinematic genius.

Those family arguments in Close Encounters and E.T. when the blocking and direction and camerawork is so effortless and transformative—those little details of consumer culture and suburban’s breathtaking.

Pretty much everything Spielberg does is breathtaking, cinematically, but as he is now a half-century removed from living an ordinary life—well, it’s only natural that his mind and heart go to recreating past time periods.

Which are so beautifully done, but it’s not the same as having somebody who is in the trenches with us, right now, in this crazy world.

And then there’s War of the Worlds. His last film, since 2005, set in plain old contemporary America—as a jumping-off point for some of the greatest, most gripping Disaster Porn ever filmed.

I love this film. I don’t watch it all that often. Some of it I find too upsetting. But as time as gone on, it has seemed more and more brilliant.

I remember seeing it in a theater and thinking—hm, that wasn’t what I expected.

You expect the Independence Day approach—an actual war of the worlds where you’re in the White House, with the military, etc., as the war unfolds.

But it’s the opposite of that: an everyman’s survival thriller with a total deus ex machina ending—the bad guys just die because of germs (spoiler, haha), courtesy the source material.

It is, with The Dark Knight, the apex of American 9/11 trauma movies from the Bush era: an extreme, paranoid fantasy about terrorism—a kind of disaster movie. And nobody does disaster, and especially brutality to the human body, better than Spielberg.

I was inspired to write this today because one of the YouTube channels I follow doing score reductions posted John Williams’ music to “The Intersection Scene”:

I have absolutely loved this cue since I first heard it in the film—that low-end, dissonant rumbling for the alien tripod that rises from underneath the street. Awesome!

So it’s a real joy to be able to go through and see what all the notes are, with detailed analysis by Patrick Suiter.

I cannot praise this sequence highly enough: the imagination, the detail, the terror. And every single aspect of the filmmaking, including the music.

I know this isn’t particularly articulate, but it’s as if everything you’re forced to eat is dogshit—and then once in a blue moon, there’s greatest filet mignon.

It is so gripping and human and textural, and also polished and elevated.

The people turning to dust as the alien ray zaps them—who thinks of that? It’s certainly something you never forget.

So, many thanks to Williams and Spielberg—the G.O.A.T.s!

460 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All

2 comentários

Popa Razzie71
Popa Razzie71
26 de jan.

I believe that Logan is an interpretation of Harrison Ford, I think they look alike


Robert Knaus
Robert Knaus
25 de jan.

This movie is criminally underrated (probably for coming out so soon after Tom Cruise's Oprah couch-jumping antics, which made people turn on him for a while), and one of the darkest non-historical films Spielberg has made. The intersection sequence is masterfully shot and scored. The whole film pulsates with directionless, post-9/11 dread, which was probably the most paranoid era of American life since the Cold War ended. Yet all I hear about the movie is bullshit like "The son should have died!", and "I couldn't stand Dakota Fanning's screaming!"

bottom of page