In America he only had to go on television, but in Europe he found another way to cinema instead. Duel story by Steven Spielberg, the first step of an incredible cinema trip
ROMA – “So Mr. Spielberg, is yours a metaphor for how capitalism tries to crush the citizen?” «But, I really just wanted to make a film about the machines». Dozens of summer stories are heard, but this is a little different, because it was right here in Rome, at the beginning of his incredible journey, that Steven Spielberg in the summer of 1973 gave the lecture of his first work: Duel. Apparently only a film shot for television, actually a work that would have shocked everyone. At that time Spielberg was only a twenty-five year old boy who until then had moved only thanks to his imagination and was in Europe for the first time. But that film which for America was a small screen, met the refined European cinephile tastes.
Dennis Weaver on the run from the mysterious tanker
Duel was born from a short story by Richard Matheson (here you can read the original script) and was a work intended primarily for satellite channels, with no possibility of ending up in the room. Instead, the director’s strength, his love of cinema and his consequent knowledge and innate ability to construct a speaking scene made the passage of the film from the vision of the living room to the sensorial enjoyment of cinema inevitable. A real show that in Italy passed first from Taormina and then in many cinemas and which immediately marked the future destiny of its creator, a crystalline talent in knowing how to reconcile story, direction and emotion.
Strange encounters: Spielberg with Fellini in Rome in 1973
Like a postcard of what would later become his cinema, Duel – on TV in 1971, in theaters in 1973 after the blessing received even by Federico Fellini in a Roman vision – it already contained the cardinal elements of an entire filmography. In a mouse hunt in which the protagonist David Mann’s defenseless Plymouth Valiant desperately tries to escape from the uncontrollable fury of a mysterious tanker, Spielberg uses the reflexes, plays with speed and perspective, feeds the fear of vulnerability by bringing it back to the rules of the road.
The first page of Duel’s screenplay.
So here are directorial intuitions that follow precise shots even in the race for the salvation of the character of Dennis Weaver and that, with the simple presence of two vehicles, live with a constant and perceptible suspense. Entertainment filled with an authorship made of a direction capable of communicating, never dominated or canceled by history. Spielberg was already chasing the audience back then to make him love cinema, like him, ready to immerse himself completely in the creations of worlds and icons that are an alien, a dinosaur or a President of the United States. Or even, why not, a shark. But that’s another story …
- Do you want to read other revisions? You find them who.