Luca Guadagnino Praises Steven Spielberg’s Use of ‘German Expressionism’ in ‘Jurassic Park’
18th February 2023

When it comes to influencing other filmmakers, Steven Spielberg is unparalleled among modern directors. His ability to move seamlessly between blockbusters and more serious fare has earned him fans of nearly ever stripe over the course of his five decade career. As he prepares to receive the honorary Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival next week, some of the independent film world’s biggest names paid tribute to him in a new story in Screen Daily.

Even Luca Guadagnino, whose arthouse sensibilities and interest in forbidden desires seems out of step with Spielberg’s more mainstream worldview, has a vast appreciation for the director. In the interview, Guadagnino reflected on the influence that Spielberg’s work has had on his own filmography.

“He influenced me in the way I’m not afraid of clear cinematic gestures,” Guadagnino said. “If you think of the Spielberg signature shot, moving towards a character who is approaching a mystery outside of the frame with a light crowning him from behind and the music rising, that’s a very clear maximalist gesture, and I humbly think that’s influenced me.”

He continued: “That moment in ‘Jurassic Park’ when the kids are chased by velociraptors in the kitchen. There you find the very idea of cinema as the place of mystery, dream and nightmare that comes straight from German expressionism.”

While Guadagnino might be the first critic to invoke German expressionism when discussing the dinosaur blockbuster, the film is certainly full of dreamlike mystery. On a recent panel with his longtime collaborator John Williams, Spielberg spoke about the way Williams’ score helped him portray dinosaurs in the way that children imagine them.

“When John first saw the picture, he talked to me about the nobility of these animals. He never called them monsters, he never called them dinosaurs, he called them animals,” Spielberg said. “John really wanted to put the dinosaurs where they belong, with the same kind of admiration and respect that little kids have when they go through a natural history museum and see the relics of this era. They’re in awe of just the bones, without even seeing the flesh on them! I feel like a kid scored this movie, with the heart of a child, because John knew how to create a sense of wonder about these magnificent animals.”

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