Now that I have watched a lot of fast-paced video essays from creators like Tony Zhou, watching video essays with a much slower tone is an interesting experience. The Spielberg Face is still a compelling video essay explaining some of the reasons for Steven Spielberg’s massive success as a director, but it doesn’t “feel” like it is trying to hold my attention and keep me from clicking away like some other video essays do. In a way this video essay “feels” more “genuine” than other faster paced video essays I’ve watched, because the video seems designed to talk about a compelling topic, instead of designed to keep a viewer from clicking away until the very end of the video. At the same time though, the argument and examples are interesting enough that I still didn’t want to click away from this video either, despite the comparatively slower nature of this video essay to some others.
Kevin B. Lee’s video essay the Spielberg Face is probably one of the more “conventional” video essays that I have seen from him. In this video essay, Kevin B. Lee uses text on screen (for movie titles and credits), voiceover narration, and various clips from Steven Spielberg’s films. There is an instance where Lee shows most of the instances of Spielberg face from one movie all at once using multiscreen, but other than that, Lee doesn’t manipulate the visuals very much. Because of the topic though, I think that the relative “simplicity” of this video essay lends well to talking about the Spielberg Face because of how entrancing all of the shots are, even if they are all very similar. This meant I was content watching all of these shots from Spielberg films without lots of split screens or fancy transitions or the use of other graphic design elements.
In terms of talking about film making and the actual content of this video essay, the Spielberg face is an interesting type of shot that Spielberg has mastered and used throughout his whole career. The “Spielberg face” as Kevin B. Lee refers to it is a shot of a character looking in awe at something off screen. While this shot was not invented by Spielberg, his films have been built around using these shots to build tension and awe. I think these close ups, and sometimes dolly shots, are effective because they let the viewer fully experience the character’s reaction to something, making the actual thing that the character is looking at seem more impressive once the viewer actually gets to see it. The Spielberg face acts to build up suspense for the actual awe inspiring event, so that when we (as the viewers) finally do see that event, we can’t help but be awe inspired ourselves. The Spielberg face is also powerful because it allows the viewer to spend “intimate” time with the characters and see their reactions to the world around them. While this technique may be overused in Hollywood blockbusters, I think that it makes sense that viewers are drawn to shots like this. As a viewer I am always looking for characters to connect to and understand. That means that for me at least, moments where I can begin to understand a character better simply through watching their facial expressions, are shots that are very effective at connecting the viewers to the characters in the movie.