‘Spielberg: The First Ten Years’: The Conskipper Review

There is no shortage of books on Steven Spielberg or the many classics that he has directed since breaking into show business in the early 1970s.

This fact would surprise no one, and yet the latest entry in the catalog of Spielberg texts is one that any fan of the director or his early cinematic triumphs would be remiss to pass up.

Laurent Bouzereau’s decade-long retrospective, Spielberg: The First Ten Years, is a sumptuous coffee table book that contains just as much steak as it does sizzle. With entries starting with his early made-for-TV film Duel, his first theatrical release The Sugarland Express, the original summer blockbuster Jaws, the sci-fi epic Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the forgotten John Belushi comedy 1941, the introduction of Indiana Jones to the world in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the heart-breaking and life-affirming E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, The First Ten Years captures an astounding start to Spielberg’s career.

Bouzereau, Spielberg’s documentarian for over three decades who collaborated with Lucasfilm historian J.W. Rinzler on 2008’s The Complete Making of Indiana Jones: The Definitive Story Behind All Four Films and 2021’s West Side Story: The Making of the Steven Spielberg Film, dives into each film as a fan, critic, and archivist. This tri-tiered approach makes his connection to the material match more relatable, and offers a style that appeals to a wider audience, without losing any of the insight that he is known for.

In addition to Bouzereau’s history lessons and analysis, the book offers many interviews with the director himself, and Bouzereau asks all the right questions that allow the filmmaker to fully explain his process and the trials and tribulations from each stop in his early career.

The beautiful photographs enhance, but do not overwhelm the writing, and the book strikes a healthy balance between the written word and the visual exposés. Many other coffee table books skimp on the true story of the film(s), or try to tell the story primarily through photographs and artwork, so it is nice to see both mediums being given equal space in The First Ten Years.

The book is also chock-full of archival reproductions of promotional materials, posters, and even a Jaws envelope. If you’re like me, you will probably leave all of these items in the book, but they are easily detached if you are the type of fan that wants to display them in your home or office.

While some may assume that Jaws gets more page space than 1941, this is not the case here (and having said that, I think all of us are waiting for a Jaws specific book) and Bouzereau goes out of his way to make each film’s entry equally engaging and informative (in fact, many of the entries will probably send you back to your home video collection to rewatch them again).

As an added bonus, the book opens with a foreword by composer John Williams and an introduction by George Lucas,

Spielberg: The First Ten Years is a beautiful retrospective and one that any fan of cinema is sure to appreciate. And if you happen cherish Spielberg the same way that Bouzereau does, you’ll be in for a real treat.

Spielberg: The First Ten Years is currently available at finer book stores everywhere.

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