Friday, March 29, 2013

On Creativity: Spielberg Faces

Yesterday in the first-year seminar class I teach, we discussed this Keyframe video essay on The Spielberg Face (based on this article at The essay discusses a signature move that recurs in Spielberg’s work--a dolly shot of a close-up on an actor’s face, eyes wide in wonder and amazement, staring at something off-screen.

The essay celebrates The Spielberg Face, and explores the director’s recent experiments with the execution of this shot. It’s a fun essay, infused with a curious, appreciative spirit (which I always appreciate in analytical work).

It make me wonder about Spielberg Faces in poetry. Often, poems force the reader to look at a scene, idea, or situation (with, yes, wonder--the Oliver face!--or wistfulness, or disgust, or desire). Poems don’t exactly (perhaps they do, inexactly?) show their characters staring back past us at something we cannot yet see. But our response is anticipated by the lines in a poem, especially the ending. Poets stare through their poems, at us, is maybe how it works.

I think of how poems slow their roll as they unfold down the page. Mine frequently do. At readings, I notice how very many of us (myself included!) apply the brakes when we know that the end is coming. The poem is starting to leave the room, is how I hear it. I think of the tapering off and quieting of a line like blackberry, blackberry, blackberry,” or “though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.” I loved the last lines of this gorgeous Michael Marberry poem, which swing open and closed, open and closed, like saloon doors through which someone (the poem? the poet? the reader?) exits.

What poets do you think should win Best Cinematographer? What signature moves have intrigued you, in poetry or beyond? And what are your thoughts about ending poems, stories, or essays?


  1. HUH! We were literally just talking about Spielberg at OUR college yesterday here in oz. Great minds ;)


    P.S. Now every spielberg film I'm going to search for the 'moment'

  2. Last night my husband and I were talking about actors acting, holding an expression on their face, gazing into horizon, when they know it is only acting!

    I don't read enough poetry, analytically, to be able to answer. I like your poems' ending because there is an element of unexpected, even though after a while I come to expect it and before I get there I like to try and guess. I am too old-fashioned but I love happy where magic falls into my lap unexpectedly.

    Happy Easter weekend was great to see you over kitty mansions

  3. Mulberry's poem left me stilled.

  4. Most poems are ended poorly. Kind of like "I ran out of things." Not planned abruptness, but a total lack of caring what the reader will experience. I think endings should complement beginnings and middles, not be clear marks of when laziness took over.

    Edgar Allan Poe should win Best Cinematographer. He really focused on being coherent and concluding any ideas he introduced.


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