Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Spielberg the master storyteller

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg's Oscar nominations for Munich marks the latest chapter in the career of Hollywood's most commercially successful film-maker.

Now aged 59, the Oscar-winning director has more than 100 movies to his name.

He is the man behind some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, such as ET and Jurassic Park, as well as the classic horror hit Jaws and the highly-acclaimed Holocaust drama Schindler's List.

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Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, the shy but enterprising young Spielberg was clearly determined to make it in the film industry.

Self-taught

By the age of 12 he had already written and made his first self-funded film.

SPIELBERG'S FILM HIGHLIGHTS
Jaws (1975)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
ET: the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The Color Purple (1985)
Empire of The Sun (1987)
Schindler's List (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Minority Report (2002)
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
War of the Worlds (2005)

He paid for his first productions using the proceeds from his tree-planting business. He also charged admission to home movies.

And at 16, his work had its first public airing when his science-fiction movie Firelight was screened at a local cinema.

Largely self-taught, Spielberg honed his skills at California State University. But after his graduation - and despite his hunger for Hollywood - Spielberg went into TV.

But it was not long before his talent for "thrills and spills" productions shone through, beginning with the TV film Duel in 1971.

ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
ET's success established Spielberg in Hollywood's superstar league

Spielberg moved permanently into feature films in 1974 when he wrote and directed The Sugarland Express, starring Goldie Hawn.

Its success gave him the chance to direct horror hit Jaws.

The film about a man-eating shark terrorising beach-goers set several precedents. It was the most successful film of 1975 and confirmed Spielberg as one to watch in Hollywood.

The film, now considered a classic of its mass appeal genre, is also seen as the first summer blockbuster.

From sharks, he moved to alien life, with his next big hit, Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977.

OSCAR FORM GUIDE
Nominations for best director from:
Directors Guild of America
Golden Globes
Nominations for best picture from:
National Board of Review

Again, Spielberg set a standard for others to follow with the use of state-of the-art special effects.

It was Spielberg's spell-binding 1982 film ET: the Extra-Terrestrial that established him as the decade's most influential movie-maker.

Towards the end of the 80s, Spielberg began to change tack, directing movies such as Alice Walker's The Color Purple. It was followed by Empire of the Sun, from the wartime novel by JG Ballard.

However, it was not a hit and seemed to mark a downturn in Spielberg's fortunes. It was followed by further weak performances from Hook and Always.

But Spielberg returned to form in the 90s with the double whammy of dinosaur caper Jurassic Park and Holocaust drama Schindler's List.

DreamWorks success

Another turning point in his career was when he joined forces with David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg to form DreamWorks in 1994.

Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan starred Tom Hanks and won five Oscars in 1999

Hits from the DreamWorks stable include American Beauty, Gladiator, Meet The Parents, A Beautiful Mind, Collateral, Shrek, Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Match Point.

In 1999 Spielberg's Second World War drama Saving Private Ryan was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. It won five, including another best director Oscar for Spielberg.

2002 proved to be a good year, with both futuristic drama Minority Report and con-man caper Catch Me If You Can going down well with both critics and film-goers.

Last year's remake of War of the Worlds - another outing with Tom Cruise - garnered a mixed reaction from critics, but was still a huge box-office hit, taking 30.5m in the UK and making it the fifth most successful film of 2005.

It also proved that after more than three decades in film, Spielberg has not lost his touch.



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