Catch me if you can and the terminal

(Welcome to 21st Century Spielberg, an ongoing column that examines the challenging, sometimes misunderstood 21st century filmography of one of our greatest living filmmakers, Steven Spielberg. In this edition: Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal.)

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in,” wrote Robert Frost. After the bleak future worlds of A.I. and Minority Report, Steven Spielberg made two seemingly light, breezy films that could very well be cinematic explorations of that Frost quote.

The main characters in Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal are both in search of home. Both in the literal sense, and the abstract sense. If home really is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in, then the main characters of Catch Me and Terminal perhaps have no real home at all. And what a terrifying thought that is.

Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal were Spielberg’s pivots out of darkness. Gone were the oppressive, often hellish futurescapes of A.I. and Minority Report. In place of the darkness came a sunny, funny trip back to the 1960s, followed by a stop-over into present day. On the surface, these two films were light hearted, brisk affairs. Yet even here, beneath the brightly lit retro fashions of Catch Me and the slapstick humor of The Terminal, melancholy still lurks. It was perhaps a confirmation that even when Spielberg tried to go light in the 21st century, darkness still found its way in.

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A.I. and Minority Report

(Welcome to 21st Century Spielberg, an ongoing column that examines the challenging, sometimes misunderstood 21st century filmography of one of our greatest living filmmakers, Steven Spielberg. First up: A.I. and Minority Report.)

“What if Peter Pan grew up?” pondered the tagline of Steven Spielberg’s 1991 fantasy Hook. It was an intriguing premise: what would happen if the perpetual child – the boy who refused to get older – embraced the cold, stark, finite nature of adulthood? Of course, the compelling concept of this tagline is all but forgotten in the runtime of Hook, where the adult Peter Pan quickly reverts to childhood in order to save the day. Still, what a notion!

Sometimes, life imitates art. In the 21st century, Steven Spielberg, the perpetual child – the pop culture impresario who found a way to turn childhood and nostalgia into a lucrative, highly entertaining art form – did something remarkable.

In the 21st century, Steven Spielberg grew up.

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