Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video that explores the importance of the dinner table scene in the films of Steven Spielberg.
Amidst the long list of things that UNESCO is sworn to protect is something called “intangible cultural heritage.” Unlike a natural wonder or a painting, “intangible cultural heritage” designates concepts and practices like skills and festivities. But it also, interestingly, includes food. Which makes sense. After all, while food is an everyday thing, the process of making, eating, and sharing a meal isn’t all that dissimilar from a ritual.
Despite its real-world intangibility, the significance of food and the equally significant act of eating it has been cemented in a more tangible medium: film. Making food and sharing meals is one of those things that read on-screen as particularly cinematic: primed for sensuous montages and ripe for all the delicate human drama that unfolds around the dinner table.
Throughout his career, Steven Spielberg has made a real meal out of dinner table scenes. They don’t just pepper his filmography, they run through it like a vein of silver, underlining the director’s enduring concern with family and the importance of a sense of home. Consequently, the dinner table scenes in each of his films act as a consistently revealing thematic window, from the messy tables of disheveled souls to rest-stops for communal calm that solidify what’s at stake for Spielberg’s heroes.
For an in-depth look at the similarities and meaning of Spielberg’s dinner table scenes, we recommend you tuck into this compelling video essay:
Watch “Steven Spielberg: Setting the Table“:
Who made this?
Established in 1981 and focusing on arthouse films, De Filmkrant is the largest independent film magazine in the Netherlands. You can check out their official website (in Dutch) here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.
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- Here’s another sample of De Filmkrant‘s work: a montage love letter to on-screen projectionists in movies.
- And here’s another video from De Filmkrant that shows how Wonder Woman turns questions into weapons.
- The good folks at Fandor have a wonderful video on three ways Spielberg uses the language of film to build suspense.
- And here’s another from Fandor on the power of food in the films of Quentin Tarantino.
- A certified classic video essay from Every Frame a Painting on “The Spielberg Oner.”
- Queue favorite Accented Cinema has a fascinating video on the role of food in Chinese cinema.
- And here’s The Nerdwriter with an in-depth explanation of how Spielberg structures scenes with sound design.
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- Here’s The Discarded Image with a deconstruction of the “panic on the beach” scene from Jaws.