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Face it: Steven Spielberg has a signature technique


Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan."

Close your eyes and picture an iconic character from a Steven Spielberg film. Do you see Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones? Richard Dreyfuss in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"? Roy Scheider in "Jaws" or Tom Hanks' war-weary gaze in "Saving Private Ryan"?

Chances are if you see the faces of these or any other Spielberg characters it's because the director has mastered a signature technique. Matt Patches at ugo.com first offered up a great essay on the subject and now Kevin B. Lee over at Fandor.com has compiled the video attached below. From Lee's own description:

If there is one recurring image that defines the cinema of Steven Spielberg, it is The Spielberg Face. Eyes open, staring in wordless wonder in a moment where time stands still. But above all, a child-like surrender in the act of watching, both theirs and ours.  It’s as if their total submission to what they are seeing mirrors our own.

The face tells us that a monumental event is happening; in doing so, it also tells us how we should feel. If Spielberg deserves to be called a master of audience manipulation, then this is his signature stroke. You can’t think of the most iconic moments in Spielberg’s cinema without The Spielberg Face.

It's kind of amazing to watch the video and see so many instances of the technique from so many recognizable films. That Haley Joel Osment kid in "A.I." seemed destined to be captured in no other way.

Spielberg is set to bring "War Horse" and "The Adventures of Tintin" to theaters soon and we'll have to be on the lookout for the face.

In the meantime, share your thoughts on Spielberg's work. What's your favorite film by the director?

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