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How Spielberg’s Cinematographer Got These Eleven Shots

Vulture dives into the collaboration of Steven Spielberg and Janusz Kaminski, starting with AI and working up to Lincoln. For Lincoln he chooses the opening shot. But I suspect the one that will be most remembered for the film is this one. It has stirred conversation by critics who believe the film should have ended there. And it easily could have. I prefer the way Spielberg chose to end it, though I might in the minority. Still, I like that there’s discussion about it.

Funnily enough, they bring up the often discussed sex scene in Munich. It marks one of the few times Spielberg has ever gone there. For many, that was when the film jumped the shark but I have to wonder now how it would play. Every time a director delivers a film that inches them forward in their career it causes you to rethink their body of work. I suspect after Lincoln that Munich will be reassessed.

26 Comments on this Post

  1. Ooh, loved that shot from Lincoln. While I do think the film would have been better to end there (I mean, we all know how he died, leave us with the image of him being alive), its nothing that causes me to lower its rank from the top of my list this year… Though admittedly, i still have some big films to see before my list is final.

  2. Just got home from seeing Lincoln, actually, Albany, NY. The audience was engaged and entertained, the show sold out, nobody walked out, and we all applauded at the end. :)

    Meanwhile, last night we saw Sessions. What started as a theater of 10 ended with 4. :P

  3. I haven’t seen film yet, but I think if Spielberg ends film like he wants it is most suitable one. A.I’s ending also made some complains but after years they accepted Spielberg’s choice.

  4. Matty Negs

    Just watched Munich tonight earlier based on this article and I have to say it is Spielberg when he’s on his A game with little sentiment. No commercialism, just a pure artist telling a story.

  5. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Matty, I really want to watch Munich again after Lincoln for some reason. I really like the films of his that have less sentiment in them. Jaws and Close Encounters among them. I didn’t think he would ever make a movie like that again but Lincoln is that movie. But I wrote off Munich when I first saw it because it was encased in the Oscar nonsense. I’d like to go back and look at it purely from a movie perspective.

  6. 70s Scorsese

    who cares?

  7. “But I wrote off Munich when I first saw it because it was encased in the Oscar nonsense. I’d like to go back and look at it purely from a movie perspective.”

    Munich’s the shit, a true “A” movie. I saw it last month and was transfixed the whole way through. Very, very intense flick that carries you through horrors and brutality with a visceral quality Spielberg rarely seeks these days, even in his best work. He’s a great “presentation” filmmaker, but Munich carries you into the frame with the same vibrance as Jaws.

  8. Munich will go down as one of his greatest films. I don’t know why it wasn’t properly assessed when it was released, maybe because he had the balls to say Israel isn’t totally in the right, but it’s fantastic. I feel that and Good Night, and Good Luck were the best films of ’05.

  9. That’s a great point to reiterate: Would Lincoln have been better if it ended with the shot of him walking down the White House corridor? I would love to hear Spielberg’s take.

    I’m split on this (spoilers here). In one regard, I’m really conflicted whether the “fake out” theater scene worked. I thought Tad’s presence indicated we were at Ford’s Theater (didn’t know he was actually at a performance that night), and as the scene was happening, I kept wanting the camera to reveal the balcony to the left of the stage where the president’s box was. But as soon as the flag wasn’t there and then the man appeared I knew something was up. This scene may be seen by scholars in particular as a gimmick, and I’m sure comparisons will be made to the shower scene lead-up in Schindler’s List. Does it take us out of the film’s reality?? ON THE OTHER HAND, the parting shot, the flashback through the candle light, I thought was enormously effective. The Second Inaugural is one of the great speeches…it was wonderful to hear it, especially when at that point I thought they had left it out. I found myself terribly missing Lincoln already–something I have never felt in a movie before–and this only reinforced the best of Daniel Day-Lewis’ character as well as Lincoln’s enduring legacy. So quite the dilemma here.

  10. Lincoln ad nauseum —-and cultural incest
    meets cultural sterility as franchise slum Hollywood
    continues to deliver PC mroal alibis —for itself.

    This is the —-‘mysteriously overlooked’—-
    ————-60th Anniversary—————-
    of the Globalism, mind control, RED China and
    EUEGNICS —-‘unfriendly’ – –

    ——————KOREAN WAR——————-

  11. I like Munich a lot, but that sex scene was dreadful.

  12. Tero Heikkinen

    Agreed, Paddy. Easily the worst scene in the otherwise solid film. Intercuts are just fine, but killing people and having an orgasm in one scene needs a braver director, if you know what I mean. It should’ve been mean as hell in order to work. It’s not offensive enough. Simultaneous blood spilling and cumshots could have worked. Though, what I wanted to see did not belong to this particular film.

    Spielberg usually avoids sex in his films (I think Schindler’s List was his first to show nudity/sex), so I guess it was brave on his scale. I would avoid violence and show everything sexual. The other one is normal and safe, the other one is not. This is what always puts me off in Tarantino, for example – he thinks on-screen violence is cool, because it is safe. I’m sure he’s not too happy about real violence in the world. In Munich the violent scenes are generally done in good taste and are justified, because they DID happen.

  13. The violence worked in the scene. The sex was tacky. Like something from a bad ’80s B-movie, only with less nudity. And the concept of the scene is corny enough. Watching that scene made me wonder if Steven Spielberg had ever actually had sex. I concluded that he had not.

  14. Another bad Spielberg ending :(

    It’s like the movie forgot it was about the 13th Amendment and then tried to become a biopic. The entire conflict and tension of the film is over, and yet it just keeps going for whatever reason.

  15. Tero Heikkinen

    One thing that I was thinking (that may come into play for Hollywood insiders), Kathleen Kennedy has been nominated SEVEN times (four of them from a Spielberg film) with ZERO wins and if Lincoln wins BP, she finally gets one. She’s a hot item now for Lucasfilms alone. As we know, for Spielberg it would be his fourth Oscar, fifth if he takes BD as well.

    In the same breath one must add that Argo is also very attractive to them – for awarding Affleck, Clooney and Heslov in one category.

  16. ” I suspect after Lincoln that Munich will be reassessed. ”

    That comparison actually went through my mind after seeing it yesterday. And I liked Munich.

  17. People are turning up in their droves. $21million estimated weekend!! Great news!

  18. Tero Heikkinen

    Hmm… people said it’s gonna be an uphill to get its 65M budget back. It probably needs less than 150M to do so (promotion was not too costly, I imagine), so it will easily make profit. If not from North American markets alone, overseas would help. Them 10+ Academy Award nominations will boost more sales.

  19. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    ” I suspect after Lincoln that Munich will be reassessed. ”

    A few longtime readers might remember seeing me say I never got embroiled in the Crash vs Brokeback arguments because Munich was my personal favorite of the BP nominees from 2005.

    I try to say so 2 or 3 times a year and I’m always a little disappointed when nobody wants to fight about it.

  20. I, too, was among the minority who believed that “Munich” was one of the best films of its year. Watched it again last year and it still holds up for me.

  21. “I try to say so 2 or 3 times a year and I’m always a little disappointed when nobody wants to fight about it.”

    I’ll fight, I’ll fight! And I thought the sex-violence editing near the end was frightening in a very good way. After all the knocks on Spielberg’s sentimentality following War Horse, seeing Munich for the 1st time knocked me on my ass. Friedkin himself couldn’t have made it more intense.

  22. I’m probably the only one who thought Good Night and Good Luck should have won in 2005! Screw all those other movies! GNAGL is just so well-researched, well-written, not overly-long or overly-sentimental, and masterfully acted and directed.

  23. Loved Munich at the cinema but the sex scene completely took me out of the movie and left a sour taste.

    Watched the film again recently on DVD, loved it even more than I did at the cinema, and not only did the sex scene not bother me at all this time round but I actually thought it worked very well.

    Not sure what all this means except that Munich is a terrific film and, as usual, the Academy got it completely wrong.

  24. So glad that “Lincoln” is causing people to take another look at “Munich”! It was my choice as the best film of 2005 and I put it in my top 10 for the decade. Really think it gets passed over when most people are considering Spielberg’s body of work.

    I’m interested to see how Spielberg and co. manage the balance of history and storytelling in “Lincoln.” What makes “Munich” such a special film for me is the way it is both a history lesson, moral statement, and a nail-biting spy thriller. It has that “All the President’s Men” vibe to it where you can just sense the urgency and vitality in the storytelling. If “Lincoln” is on that level then I’ll be absolutely over the moon.

  25. Always been a big Munich fan and was still holding onto a fool’s hope for it back in 2005 – so I’ll echo that I’m glad people are taking another look at it. I think an interesting case study would be to look at “Munich”, “War Horse”, and “Lincoln” all together. They show very distinct sides to the Spielberg.

    Also I feel Eric Bana was very unjustly shut out from every single awards body that year. One of the best lead performances in a Spielberg film, IMO.

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