To date, Steven Spielberg has over 58 directing credits to his name, beginning his career in the early '60s before he'd go on to helm some of the most recognisable and best-loved films of an entire generation.
When you consider the sheer volume of his work - 'Jaws', 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark', 'E.T.', 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind', 'Jurassic Park', 'Saving Private Ryan' - it's almost impossible to come up with his greatest work and, more specifically, his greatest scenes.
So, with that in mind, we've simply gone out and picked our five favourite scenes from his films that have had the most lasting impact on us. Got some of your own? Let us know in the comments!
5. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND - "Mom, look! The sun's here!"
'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind' is one of those films that completely changes from the first to the second time you see it and this scene is a perfect example of this phenomenon. When you see this first without any prior knowledge, it's absolutely terrifying. The sound effects, Vilmos Zsigmond's incredible cinematography, the stupid little kid shouting as the lights beam in through every space - and then, when you see it a second time, it takes on a completely different tone and there's a sense of beauty and wonder to it that's almost childlike. The stupid little kid is, in reality, completely innocent and is simply interacting with something beautiful the way a child would.
4. SAVING PRIVATE RYAN - The Omaha Beach sequence
There's so much going in the opening sequence of 'Saving Private Ryan' that, in and of itself, it's basically a small film independent of the larger narrative. Hanks' squad are fully realised and developed over the space of about twenty minutes; Tom Sizemore is a grizzled veteran who collects dirt from around the world, Adam Goldberg is an angry soldier who's burdened with what he has seen, Barry Pepper is a sniper with religious faith, on and on it goes. However, what's more pointed about is that it sets the film's tone. It's not a glittering Hollywood take on it, there are no Steadicam moments or overt uses of camera. It's done in a straight, unfettered documentary style and that was - at the time, anyway - unheard of for a war movie.
3. JURASSIC PARK - "Keep absolutely still. His vision's based on movement."
It's said that, after 'Schindler's List', Steven Spielberg forgot how to make a fun film. It's easy to see why. 'Schindler's List' is much less a film and more of a tome; an accurate record of the worst atrocity in recent human history. 'Jurassic Park' was, in effect, everything that 'Schindler's List' isn't. 'Jurassic Park' was mindlessly entertaining, deeply funny in places and Spielberg using every one of his visual talents to make the definitive blockbuster. The key scene in Jurassic Park, for us, is the first appearance of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. It's so loud, so completely filled with terror and, yet, it's filmed so simply. There's no music, there are a few cuts here and there and there's almost no inventive camera angle or the like put on it. Spielberg smartly recognised that showing the monster in all its horrible glory was the right way to do it.
2. E.T.: THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL - "I'll be right here..."
The summer of 1982 was defined by a number of varying takes on sci-fi and, specifically, how films would relate to aliens. You had Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner' with its deeply philosophical take on the nature of reality. You had John Carpenter's 'The Thing' with its paranoia-ridden view on humanity and the enemy within. And then there was 'E.T.', a coming-of-age story about an alien that lands on Earth and befriends a small group of children. Hopeful, innocent, beautifully photographed, easily one of John Williams' most recognisable scores, 'E.T.' became an instant smash and its finale - where E.T. returns home, at long last - is heartbreaking to this day.
1. JAWS - "Anyway, we delivered the bomb."
Although Steven Spielberg is often considered to be the master of spectacle and so on, his greatest scene - in our opinion, anyway - features no CGI of any kind. Only has three actors and just a sliver of John Williams' music over it. It's Robert Shaw recounting a story from his days as a sailor during World War II and the ill-fated U.S.S. Minneapolis. John Milius punched up the script and Robert Shaw, apparently, got blacked out drunk before the scene. He begged to take another stab at it all.
Spielberg, for his part, underplayed it beautifully and simply aimed the camera at Shaw. Imagine how something like this would have played today. There'd be a cutaway to CGI sharks, an overbearing score and about twenty cuts to the reactions. Here, it's small, minimalist touches that just allows the scene to breathe. Like Dreyfuss and Scheider, you're draw in completely by what he's saying.