Steven Spielberg: “Ready Player One is my time convector”

Eighties nostalgia, virtual reality, his remake of West Side Story and Indiana Jones 5: King Spielberg takes stock.

Ready Player One will return at 9:15 p.m. on TMC. We are republishing to wait for some comments from its director, Steven Spielberg.

Interview from March 28, 2018: Last week in London, Steven Spielberg had invited the European press to the launch of Ready Player Onean orgasmic sum film which, among other miracles, arrives in theaters two months later Pentagon Papers, his ode to seventies journalism and the paper press. How to shoot two films so imposing and different at the same time ? What effect does it have on the beloved entertainment genius to confront himself with Ready Player One to the fetishes of a pop culture that he himself shaped? And what cinema fantasies does he have left to realize? The septuagenarian Stakhanovist responds.

Ready Player One: Steven Spielberg returns to the real world with joy in an exclusive making-of

80's nostalgia
“Ernest Cline's book is full of references to 80s pop culture. It was a bit like I was winking at myself. Grabbing the DeLorean Back to the future – a film of which I was the executive producer – and to bring her back to life was an incredible, powerfully nostalgic moment. As if I was leaving my own body! Summarizing all these fetishes of the era made me realize how rich the eighties had been from a cultural point of view. But these references mainly served as an excuse for me to be nostalgic even in my production. I said to myself: “What if I tried to infuse this film with the same energy that ran through Jurassic Park, The Raiders of the Lost Ark Or AND ? “I wanted to make a film that gave audiences the same excitement as the ones I made in the 80s.”

Time travel
“What if I had a DeLorean to go back in time? I'm not going anywhere, I'm not moving from here! I am very happy in my life today. I never fantasize about traveling to the past. My DeLorean was the realization of Ready Player One, which gave me the opportunity to pay homage to lots of films that I love. That's it, my temporal convector! But now that the film is over, I look ahead. I keep moving forward.”

“I identify a lot with the character played by Mark Rylance in Ready Player One, James Halliday, the creator of the Oasis. Of all the characters I have portrayed in my career, this is the one who is closest to my life, to my truth, to who I really am deep down. Who was my James Hallyday when I was young? Without hesitation: Sid Sheinberg, the boss of Universal, who got me started in the 70s. I was 22, I left college thanks to him to become a television director. He created a world that I was allowed to play in. He gave me the keys to a small kingdom… whose contours I then sought to enlarge.”

With Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg signs a phenomenal self-portrait [critique]

Virtual reality
“VR and cinema are two very different mediums. Traditional storytelling, as practiced in cinema, cannot exist in a virtual universe. Because VR gives too much freedom to viewers, they can look wherever they want, it's too complicated for directors to direct the audience's gaze and tell the story they want to tell. I think that “traditional” cinema, public screenings, will always exist, even if the size and shape of the screens will undoubtedly change. The problem with VR is that you can't meet a girl or a boy at the cinema and then put on a headset that cuts you off from the world and immerses you in an alternative reality… It's not very practical for flirting! Same problem for parents who take their children to see the new Disney in VR. They will remove the headset at the end of the projection and realize that their offspring has disappeared! It seems a bit dangerous to me.”

The reign of superheroes
“Personally, I don’t believe in superheroes. I prefer characters who get by thanks to their intelligence and natural physical strength rather than superhuman powers. Indiana Jones rather than Superman. But I have nothing against superhero films! It is the dominant genre, as the western was for 70 years. And like the western, superhero films will eventually run out of steam, they will give way to another fashion – I don't know which one… But the current domination of the genre is a good thing. They are good entertainment, they stimulate our imagination, they make us dream, they give us the feeling that we are bigger and stronger than we really are. Does America need superheroes? We had a real superhero in America, his name was Barack Obama! But he’s not here anymore.”

His cinema fantasies
“There are musical numbers in many of my films, but I have yet to do a real musical. I love the idea that dance can tell a story, that choreographies write a visual narrative, without any dialogue. Watch the long dance scene between Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly in An American in Paris ! It’s an art form that I would really like to explore. And then… why not a western? I have two projects in development. It's a genre that no longer excites the crowds but, sometimes, a director manages to offer one that stands out from the crowd, like Clint Eastwood with Ruthless. The day I shoot my first western, I will do it without expecting great commercial success in return.”

Warner Bros.

Shoot two films at the same time
“My career is bipolar. But that's a good thing. It allows me to keep something precious and that directors easily lose, namely: objectivity about my own work. When we are too immersed in a film, we are no longer able to look at it from the outside, we lose all perspective. However, we must always try to maintain a form of freshness, to better anticipate the reactions of the spectators. When I work in parallel on two projects as different as Pentagon Papers And Ready Player One, a historical drama and a futuristic fantasy, the two feed into each other. In the morning, I direct Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks and, during my lunch break, I view and validate the digital effects of Ready Player One. But it is never to the detriment of one of the two films. The only time it was painful was when I worked in parallel on Jurassic Park And Schindler's List. I came back from Krakow, Poland, where I had made a film about the Holocaust and found myself polishing scenes with dinosaurs attacking jeeps! I didn't like it at all, it even made me angry. I was furious with Jurassic Park ! But it’s the only time I’ve been unhappy with two very dissimilar films coming together.”

Turn West Side Story And Indiana Jones 5 at the same time ?!?
“No, I’m not going to be able to shoot these two at the same time! (Laughs) You will have to do them one after the other. Otherwise, I'm going to get confused, and Indiana Jones is going to break out into a dance routine. And that, I’m not sure Harrison Ford is very amused…”

(ultimately, he was only a producer on The Dial of Destinydirected by James Mangold)

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