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Steven Spielberg: My animated tribute

In my copy of his book "Scorsese," Roger Ebert wrote these words: "Every movie lover needs a hero."

I've found mine in Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg has been my hero ever since I, in my childhood, saw his more popular films (" Jaws," "Temple of Doom," "Hook," " E.T.," "Close Encounters," et al.), but recently, as I covered areas in his filmography I hadn't before, and doubled back to some that I didn't quite remember, I was struck by how much he really is my hero.

For instance, have you ever thought about how many good films he has done? Reading through his filmography, I discovered that, of the films I've seen, there is only one that I consider a bad movie; "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."

I've also come to be amazed by his versatility, an attribute of his career I think more people should acknowledge. Spielberg can, and has, done it all.

He has given us a sensitive and yet epic war drama with "Schindler's List." He shocked us with a terrifying thriller, his first blockbuster "Jaws." He made us cry with the soaring, life-affirming, family classic that is "E.T. -- The Extra Terrestrial." He brought us to the edge of our seats with the rip-roaring, pulpy action adventures of Indiana Jones. He directed a daring fantasy that is at once both a fairy tale and a sci-fi drama, "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence." He has even branched out to do delicate, human comedies, like "The Terminal." And last year, he gave us a remarkably detailed depiction of politics and history, which even so tells a truly human story, with "Lincoln."

You get the idea. Across his filmography, there is immense variety. And I was just getting started; I haven't gotten to some of my favorites, like " Minority Report," "Duel," "The Adventures of Tintin," "War Horse," "Catch Me If You Can," or even "Hook," which is unfairly maligned, or that's what us '90's kids think anyway. Oh, and how could I forget "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," one of my favorites of all his films. I have yet to see that sheer sense of hope and wonder in any other film.

What an illustrious career.

And there's another thing I fully realized only last year: Though Spielberg has a distinct style (that he has, over the years, developed so beautifully with his frequent collaborators; Janusz Kaminski, Michael Kahn and the musical maestro himself, John Williams), he also knows when to step back and exercise restraint and subtlety.

This is the Spielberg I didn't know when I was a kid. This is the man who directed "Lincoln," "Schindler's List," et al., the man who doesn't make his presence known as much as the other Spielberg tends to do. The Spielberg I looked up to as a kid dealt in a brilliant combination of visuals and sounds to make an impact. This one affects us by holding back.

Spielberg has a way of inspiring emotions in us in ways that not many filmmakers can. I love how he can sometimes be uncompromisingly sensitive and emotional, and others, subtle and wise. I can't think of any other filmmaker who appeals to both to "general audiences" and "more serious cinema-goers."

I think I've said enough to get my point across: Spielberg means a lot to me. This animated tribute to him took me about four months to make, in part because frame-by-frame rotoscoping is time-consuming and tricky, and also because I'm not at all experienced in animation. And my numerous software and hardware hiccups might've also contributed to that long production time.

This was made simply as a salute to Spielberg, the man and the filmmaker, who has inspired me profoundly over the last decade, ever since I started watching movies, and who has affected not only the way I view film, but the way I view art (I was going to say "life itself," but even I think that may be a bit too much.)

I've tried to write about my appreciation of this great filmmaker before, but somehow, that wasn't enough. And so instead, I'd like to think this tribute conveys my admiration for him, perhaps, better than any words I can muster.

To Steven Spielberg.

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