Now here’s something really fascinating. Cinephilia and Beyond via SlashFilm have unearthed a classic episode of At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. In the episode, broadcast in 1990, the duo interview Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and George Lucas on the future of cinema. It’s incredible to hear what these guys – widely considered to be among the most respected filmmakers alive today – thought back then.
Highlights include Spielberg scoffing at the idea of running a studio – something he would end up doing five years later with Dreamworks. It’s also remarkable hearing him talking about not wishing to grow up in the 1990s. Looking back, it was this decade that would completely change the way he approached cinema. Schindler’s List came out in 1993, Amistad in 1997 and Saving Private Ryan in 1998. Since then, he’s alternated between serious pictures (Munich, Lincoln) and hefty, ultra-serious popcorn entertainers (War of the Worlds, Minority Report). Interestingly, one of the first things he talks about in the interview is the desire to make a Howard Hughes movie – something that Scorsese would end up making 12 years later with The Aviator.
Scorsese too makes some intriguing statements. He talks about the desire to make a romance. Ebert in particular is shocked by that statement. Scorsese would make the beautiful, underrated The Age of Innocence three years later. He also hopes he would be able to make a hit movie someday. Although he’d have to wait for more than a decade, he’d eventually get there with The Departed and Shutter Island in the late 2000s.
As for Lucas – in hindsight, it’s kind of sad to hear him speak about making the Star Wars prequels – knowing how bad they’d turn out. However, he does come off very prophetic when talking about the nature of the future of cinema; about how HDTV will change the way we watch movies; how everyone will end up having their own filmmaking studio on their shoulders etc… Lucas was, is, and always will be one of the industry’s shrewdest businessmen. That’s always been his forte.
All in all, it’s a magnificent time-capsule. Check it out.
Oh, and if I had to pick only one film to represent each filmmaker for future generations – I’d go with Star Wars for Lucas, E.T. for Spielberg and Goodfellas for Scorsese. That mob picture would come out later that year, and is teased in the episode.