Thursday, May 9, 2013
Heath Holland On...The Spielberg Hypothesis
Psssst! Hey! You! Over here, in the alley! Wanna hear something crazy?
Way back in the late '60s, The Beatles faced (and perpetuated) outlandish rumors that Paul McCartney was killed and replaced by a man named Billy Shears. Billy Shears, it was said, had plastic surgery to look like Paul and could even sing like Paul, but was NOT Paul. You’ll find clues about Paul being dead all over The Beatles records, as well as in their songs. I propose that this didn’t just happen to Paul McCartney, but to others as well. It’s still happening right under our noses. After years of exhaustive research, all my evidence points to a massive hoax. I have reason to believe that Steven Spielberg died in 1993 and was replaced by a lucky unknown filmmaker -- someone who looks like him and sounds like him, but doesn’t make movies like him. I even have a name for this bearded, baseball-capped imposter: Spieven Steelberg.
Do you want to know more? Can you keep a secret? Then let me elaborate. I’ll have to start at the beginning.
Jurassic Park. It had been SO LONG since I last watched the movie, and I had forgotten just how much I loved it. Sure, the highlights had stuck with me over the years: the music, the glass of water in the car, and the T-Rex running wild (like Hulk-a-Mania). It had been about ten years since I last watched it, so seeing it with fresh, adult eyes was revealing. I laughed. I cried. Much to the discomfort of those around me, I climaxed three times. And somewhere around the time that the sad bird music kicks in at the end, I came to the conclusion that Jurassic Park is an example of “The Perfect Movie.”
The Perfect Movie is something that is often aimed for (though apparently not as much as we’d all like to think), but seldom achieved. Everything that is set up in Jurassic Park is paid off. The screenplay is tight and jam-packed with everything we need to know and none of what we don’t. Like all of Spielberg’s best films, there’s a sense of wonder in the story; we’ve created these dinosaurs that may kill us, but look how wonderful they are. The T-Rex is terrible and ferocious; he eats people and chases your car, but he’s also a pretty remarkable thing to watch. He’s one of nature’s crowning achievements. I came out of the theater on cloud nine, and revisited the movie again a few days later on Blu-ray because I just wanted to be in that world again. That’s one of the fantastic things about Jurassic Park: you can watch it as many times as you want and it still holds up. There are no boring bits, because all the talky parts are there to inform the action. The slower first half is all in service of the insane, balls-to-the-wall second half. Even now, writing this column and discussing the merits of this film, I want to watch Jurassic Park.
Then I made a big mistake.
I thought to myself: “Hey, that movie held up so well, I should keep going! Bring on The Lost World: Jurassic Park!” And that’s what I did. I watched The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park.
Do not watch The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park is a really bad movie. Where the first movie is full of an optimistic wonder at these creatures, the second movie is dark and mean-spirited. No one seems to have their heart in it at all. In fact, the entire film feels really cynical. I get that the first movie made ALL of the dollars, but they didn’t HAVE to make a sequel. Well, okay, so they HAD to make a sequel. But it’s amazing to me that pretty much the same group of people (the same director and same effects team and the same producers) made a movie (based on a book by the guy who wrote the first book) and it feels NOTHING like the first Jurassic Park.
You could MAYBE say that the film is intended to reflect the dark consequences of what happens when man tries to meddle in nature. But isn’t that what the first movie was about? And things that they took great pains to establish in the first movie are completely ignored. Watching the special features for Jurassic Park, much time is spent on how one of the leading paleontologists (Jack Horner) believed that the closest modern species related to dinosaurs are birds. Scenes where Raptors stuck their tongues out like lizards were completely scrapped in an effort to make them more bird-like. But in The Lost World, not only does a dinosaur stick its tongue out, it eats the paleontologist that looks a lot like Jack Horner. What are we to take from this? Tellingly, Spielberg himself actually admits that the sequel is not as good as Jurassic Park.
But that’s the thing. Maybe that’s not Spielberg talking. Maybe it’s Steelberg. Let’s face it: the Spielberg we know NEVER would have ended the movie the way he did.
Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, and The Color Purple (I know, I’m writing it like you don’t already know). Also, he acted as a producer of even more great movies: Gremlins, The Goonies, Poltergeist, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and a slew of others, including their sequels.
But in 1993, both Jurassic Park AND Schindler’s List were released (both tremendous successes), and by the end of the year Spielberg was exhausted. The toll of making two movies that covered the return of dinosaurs and the holocaust was high. It would be FOUR years before Spielberg would return to directing.
But did he really ever return? It is my belief that during this period, the real Steven Spielberg died and was replaced by the imposter, Spieven Steelberg. The real Steven Spielberg passed away from complications caused from exhaustion in 1993. The strain of two huge movies had been too much. His heart gave out on a Wednesday morning at 5 o’clock.
Four years were spent training an imposter to look like Spielberg, act like Spielberg, and teach him to make movies like Spielberg. He studied those old blockbusters endlessly, honed his craft, grew his beard, and shopped for baseball caps that only Spielberg would wear. This man was probably an unknown before his recruitment by the shadow society that pulled this hoax, most likely a film school dropout with high potential. At the end of this intensive training period in 1997, it was time to put all that hard work to the test.
The first Spieven Steelberg movie was The Lost World. It made 17 jillion dollars. Worldwide, more money had to be printed because all of the existing dollars went to theaters, who sent it directly to Universal, who sent it directly to Spieven Steelberg. The hoax was a success, and it would be years before anyone really started asking questions.
Buoyed by the success of the charade, Steelberg just kept going. For years he kept making movies that looked like Spielberg movies, but were just missing something: A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, War of the Worlds, and the most glaring of all of his failed attempts at matching Spielberg’s magic, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That one is the worst because all the elements are there for a classic Spielberg story; all the pieces are in place. Harrison Ford even brought his A-game. It looks and feels like an Indiana Jones movie, but it’s missing something. What it’s missing is Steven Spielberg.
Super 8, the transformation was nearly complete, and that movie was even released with Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment logo. There are many clues in that Amblin logo for those of us who know the truth and are willing to search. For instance, the moon in the logo is in the exact position and fullness that it was at the time of Spielberg’s death. And what at first appears to be E.T. covered in the bike basket is actually Spielberg’s shrouded, mourning widow, Kate Capshaw. And everyone knows that the bicycle is the Inuit symbol of death.
Need more evidence? George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were always friends and frequent collaborators. But with his friend gone, Lucas turned to Spielberg’s replacement J.J. Abrams to direct the new chapter in the Star Wars franchise. The next step in the evolution has not been announced yet, but I have inside sources (TOP MEN) who say that Abrams will take over the next Indiana Jones project before working on Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind. Lucas has been working closely with J.J. Abrams for a while now, teaching him how Steven used to do things and grooming him as Steelberg’s replacement.
But what does that mean for Steelberg? What was/is his fate? Was the failure of the last Indiana Jones movie too much? Or even more ominous…did THEY….THEY, the ones who perpetuated this whole hoax in the first place…have him killed for too many near misses? Is George Lucas IN ON THIS? Did it have anything to do with Francis Ford Coppola? How deep does the conspiracy run? It’s the old Hollywood (not me, the city) rule: keep your friends close, but keep your enemies even closer. I hope J.J. Abrams has made peace with his god, because he’s treading on thin ice.
Hook enough to turn his love of movies sour? He was the king of the box office blockbuster, so maybe he was ready to walk away from it all and retire to an island off the coast of Costa Rica with Kate Capshaw (K-Caps, not to be confused with Keurig K-Cups).
Or maybe it was George Lucas who had the dirty deed done, knowing that if he didn’t bump off Spielberg, his Star Wars sequels would never make any money when people could go see better movies full of heart and wonder.
Or maybe it was Colonel Mustard in the library with a lead pipe.
The point is, those early Spielberg movies are long gone. They had a magic that I don’t know if we’ll ever see or get again. Even when a concentrated effort is put into replicating them or recreating that magic, it fails. I suppose that a non-believer would tell me that the explanation for this is simple, and that every filmmaker creates his best art when he’s young. They’d probably say that Spielberg is alive and well, he just grew up. They’d probably say that an older, successful filmmaker well into his later years won’t (no, CAN’T) make the kinds of movies that he did when he was young and hungry. They’d probably try to tell me that we all change, and we deepen as we grow older; we develop new interests and we let go of others. They’d remind me that Quentin Tarantino wants to retire soon because he believes older filmmakers lose the voice they had when they were young. These people would then try to tell me that Steven Spielberg is now a mature, sage master of his craft who has simply moved on stylistically, technically, and thematically.
And to that person, I would reply: “Come on. Don’t you think that sounds a little far fetched?”