It seems in today’s age of blogging, internet movie sites and message boards that fans of films have become extremely fickle. We no longer watch movies as a complete piece of work and then decide if we like it. Nowadays, we pick one scene and beat it to death, blaming it for ruining the entire film.
The phenomenon now even has its own catch phrase: “nuke the fridge.” It refers to the one scene in a film that was so unbelievable that it crushed an entire movie. In the case of “nuke the fridge” it’s referring to the scene in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” when Harrison Ford hid in a refrigerator to avoid an atomic blast. Other films have been said to have a “nuke the fridge” moment, such as when Jar-Jar Binks showed up in Star Wars Episode I or when Peter Parker breaks into a dance in “Spider-Man 3.” I bring this up because no filmmaker since the internet age hasthe brunt of criticism more than Steven Spielberg. It’s fitting that the majority of his most successful films were at a time when his only critics were actual film critics. Movie audiences flocked to his work and didn’t dissect every single moment or they would have realized most of his popcorn films have “nuke the fridge” moments in them and yet we consider these flicks classics. Here’s a list of what could be considered “fridge” moments from his earlier work:
All these scenes could be considered movie killers by today’s standards, and yet each of these films holds a special place in my heart. They’re not just great movies but they have been ingrained in our popular culture.
Steven Spielberg may be the greatest American film director in history. There are other filmmakers that may be more artistic, more daring, and even more influential, but there are none that can weave a story as well as he can. His films are captivating from beginning to end. Think back on watching Jaws and how quickly the time watching it lapsed between when the first victim swam out into the water and when Chief Brody and Hooper swam back to shore at the end. It takes a great director to take you out of your body and make you feel like you’re experiencing the story. No one has ever done that better than Spielberg. I suppose why I feel he’s under appreciated is that film buffs love to praise people like Terrence Malick for creating realism but then bash Spielberg for creating the unbelievable. All films were not made to create a sense of real world believability. Some are meant to take us out of our day-to-day lives and show us fantastic worlds and stories that we could never experience without the imagination of great filmmakers.
Spielberg also takes a lot of shit for trying too hard to appeal to a mass audience. I completely disagree. He really has a child’s wonder when it comes to the process of storytelling and it is easy to see on the screen. Whether Elliott is flying across the screen on his bicycle, Richard Dreyfuss is watching the landing of the first U.F.O., or Sam Neill is battling a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Spielberg knows how to capture our inner child and make us wonder about more than what is real. It’s not a marketing decision. It’s just how he sees the story.