Spielberg invades Bayonne

Twisted up in Twister

With so many names listed in the credits of Twister, you might be deceived into believing Steven Spielberg has less of a hand in it than in other so-called "Spielberg-produced" films.

This assumption would be folly since Twister has many of the signature elements that we have come to associate with films in which Steven Spielberg is listed as director.

His fingerprints, as Time Out once called his stylistic touches from other films, are everywhere in Twister - touches that trailers to War of the Worlds hint he continues in the 2005 release.

As in Harry & the Hendersons and other films, Spielberg's overwhelming influence is most apparent in details such as the continued use of television both to provide updated information and as a means of alluding and paying homage to other films. In Close Encounters, for instance, we got to see Moses going to Mt. Sinai, foreshadowing the hero's eventual journey to his own mountain and eventual ascension into the heavens. In Twister, we get pictures of Judy Garland (although not always in the role in which she was cast against a twister) and other classic films.

Even his filming style is evident. While he gives us none of his remarkably framed shots such as those in the van at the gas station in War of the Worlds, in Twister, he uses techniques he first unveiling in Sugarland Express with a helicopter often following the actions from above. We will see this again in War of the Worlds, especially in scenes depicting the approach to Boston (as shot on Staten Island).

While Twister lacks the insertion of children typical of some Spielberg-directed films, we do get a broken marriage similar to what we find in Minority Report as well as in War of the Worlds - with the conflict in each film bringing together the separated lovers.

Twister doesn't need Spielberg's usual smoke-filled woods, we get plenty of other Spielberg special effects from the rising nails on the bridge - we first saw in Close Encounter when the aliens began to unscrew the screws to the heating vent and even the tumbling gasoline tanker which trailers to War of the Worlds show crashing into the line of houses on the Bayonne shoot (i.e. the Iron Bound section of Newark). Even the twisters itself is similar to the vortex that sucks up the girl in Poltergeist. In fact, some of the film techniques are so similar, you might splice together storm scenes from Twister with those from Poltergeist and not notice the difference.

Most important to those of us looking forward to War of the Worlds, Twister presents us with a few critical scenes of carnage - especially in the village scenes where we see whole stunned families looking over the wreckage of their homes. War of the Worlds trailers show similar scenes, revealing against the pallet from which Spielberg draws color for his films.

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