EARLY SCENE IN SPIELBERG/HOOPER CLASSIC NODS TO LUCAS, DE PALMA, MAYBE SCORSESE
Or make that a room full of Star Wars. The frame above is the first shot of a scene early in Poltergeist, which was officially directed by Tobe Hooper, but was produced, written, edited, and storyboarded by Steven Spielberg, who is rumored and in some cases stated to have been the true director of the film. The scene pictured in the frames above and below take place in the children's bedroom, the boy's side of which is, like many a bedroom in 1982, filled with Star Wars toys, posters, jackets, blankets, and more. The shot above that opens the scene throws this great feat of merchandising straight into viewers' faces, a clear nod by Spielberg to his good friend George Lucas, who by that time had made two Star Wars films and was on the verge of completing the initial Star Wars trilogy.
In 1982, Spielberg was still fairly close with his fellow "Young Lion/Movie Brat" director friends: Lucas, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and John Milius. In the shot below, on the very right, underneath a poster for Ridley Scott's Alien, what appears to be a toy yellow taxi sits on a shelf, possibly a nod to Scorsese's Taxi Driver.
After the mother makes the bed, she sits on it, and notices that she doesn't hear the bird tweeting. She looks toward the birdcage, concerned...
And when she gets up to get a better look, finds the bird lying upside down, dead, the positioning of which seems likely to be a visual nod to the Death Records logo in De Palma's Phantom Of The Paradise...
This last homage idea is further reinforced by the fact that, according to the recent book, Interviews Too Shocking To Print! by Justin Humphreys, Tobe Hooper himself had been a big fan of Phantom Of The Paradise, which led to him working enthusiastically with William Finley. Perhaps Spielberg storyboarded the scene above and Hooper ran with it. We could say it is just a dead bird, but since both visionaries in the room (Spielberg and Hooper) would have been so familiar with De Palma's film, it seems very likely each of them would have been thinking about the Death Records logo when they staged the shot.
Updated: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 4:27 PM CDT
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