Magisterial juvenilia: Amblin’ and Spielberg’s early television work

Morris, Nigel (2017) Magisterial juvenilia: Amblin’ and Spielberg’s early television work. In: A companion to Steven Spielberg. Wiley Blackwell Companions to Film Directors . Wiley-Blackwell, Boston, MA. ISBN 9781118726914

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Spielberg’s concern from the outset with managing perceptions and the status of his work is apparent from “Magisterial Juvenilia: Amblin' and Spielberg's Early Television Work,” Nigel Morris’s contribution to the section “Narration and Style.” This offers a detailed and comprehensive account of Spielberg’s professional output before – and indeed briefly after – his feature breakthrough. Spielberg utilized affordances of television directing – opportunities to work with knowledgeable and efficient technicians and experienced performers, against constraints such as tight schedules, routine practices and low budgets, as well as formulaic scripts structured around advertising – to produce a compendium of allusions and techniques that attract attention and assert ambition. Apparent in this early output are continuities with the self-reflexivity and intertextuality characteristic of Spielberg’s later features, even though television viewers’ attention may differ greatly from that pertaining from the prolonged intense gaze, and indeed auteur expectations, in cinema. By 1971, when Duel attracted huge acclaim – a television movie-of-the-week that, in Europe, became Spielberg’s first theatrical release – he had evolved a highly visual narrational style, often dialogue-free, with camera positions, movements and editing points strictly motivated. Cinema and television were distinct, and competing. Film, lacking synchronized sound, had elaborated a rich visual rhetoric during its formative years that continued into the classical and post-classical eras, and that Spielberg had internalized. Television was an extension of broadcasting – talk-based, an outgrowth of radio – limited by small screens, poor image quality and, until less then a decade previously, to live studio transmission. Drama was wordy, performance-centered and characterized by close-ups. Such distinctions the young Spielberg simply ignored in the move he helped pioneer from studio-bound drama to television films.

Keywords:Amblin', television drama, made-for-television films, Night Gallery, Rod Serling, "Eyes", Marcus Welby, M.D., "The Daredevil Gesture", "Make me Laugh", The Name of the Game, "L.A. 2017", Columbo, "Murder by the Book", Auteur theory, Intertextuality, adaptation, dystopia, ecological dystopia, self-reflexivity, Something Evil, movie-of-the-week
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P313 Film Production
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P301 Television studies
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P311 Television Production
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P310 Media Production
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
Relation typeTarget identifier
ID Code:23130
Deposited On:15 May 2016 16:10

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