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How 9/11 changed Steven Spielberg and his films

“There was a period in Steven’s life, when 9/11 happened, where he did enter into a darker phase of filmmaking"
Steven Spielberg and 9/11
[Photo: Getty]

Susan Lacy’s HBO documentary Spielberg is an intimate and exhaustive look at the career of the beloved filmmaker who, thanks to the likes of “Jaws,” “Jurassic Park,” ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark,” “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Lincoln,” has long been regarded as the world’s most famous director.

One of the most interesting points raised in “Spielberg” is the impact that the 9/11 terrorist attacks had on the director’s work. Towards the end of September I had the opportunity to speak to Susan Lacy about "Spielberg,” and we discussed this shift in tone.  

“I think there was a period in Steven’s life when 9/11 happened where he did enter into a darker phase of filmmaking. There’s no question about that. How could he not?”

Lacy then went on to explain that the one film that was overtly influenced by 9/11, and the sight of the Twin Towers collapsing and New Yorkers looking for their loved ones, was 2005’s “War Of The Worlds.” This is something that Spielberg himself has previously admitted.


“As Spielberg says, the film that was most affected by 9/11 was ‘War Of The Worlds.’ He is an artist that is affected by what is going on in the world. A lot of people don’t think about it that way, and were surprised to hear that ‘War Of The Worlds,’ which a lot of people just think is a popular film, was actually influenced by 9/11.”

The links to 9/11 in “War Of The Worlds” have been a topic of discussion ever since it was originally released, and various think pieces have been written detailing the imagery that is present throughout the film that are a direct reference to the tragedy. This includes Tom Cruise being covered in dust, walls of missing persons posters, the sight of acrashed plane, while Dakota Fanning’s character even asks if the aliens are terrorists at one point.

Be sure to check out Susan Lacy’s “Spielberg” when it airs at 8 p.m. EST on Saturday, October 7 on HBO for further tidbits regarding the legendary filmmaker’s career, as there’s plenty more where the above came from.

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