Top 10 Steven Spielberg Moments

Steven Spielberg has presided over some of cinema’s most memorable scenes for the past 35 years. From the iconic lines “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” and “Smile you son of a b****” to the shot of water ripples in Jurassic Park and the kids flying through the night sky in E.T. Here’s ten of the director’s finest moments. What are your favourites?

10. Gourmet snakes, monkey heads, and beetles: Dinner Time! – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doomsee our comic strip look at Temple of Doom

indiana jones temple of doom, dinner scene

It’s surprising on reflection just how many great scenes populate Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. If indeed it is a film with lots of memorable bits that don’t quite come together as a whole, there’s enough entertainment to make the film worthy of revisiting time and time again. Here, at the Indian palace, Short Round and Willie enjoy a gourmet banquet of giant beetle, snake filled with living snakes, soup with eyeballs, and chilled monkey brain.

9. Dinosaurs revealed – Jurassic ParkSee also: “Spielberg dares to parody himself in Jurassic Park”

jurassic park

Awe-inspiring on two levels. The dinosaurs are first revealed in Jurassic Park with eye-popping grandiose, but it was also the moment Hollywood proved it could go further than it have ever done before with special digital effects.

8. Roy Neary waves by UFO – Close Encounters of the Third KindSee also our review of Close Encounters of the Third Kind

roy neary close encounters of the third kind ufo

Fabulous Spielberg moment as he has total control of the audience. Roy Neary waves a car to pass him. The audience think it is a UFO. It isn’t. Moments later, a similar event occurs. It must be a car again? Oh no it isn’t. This time it is a UFO.

7. Indy gets thrown out of a truck but clings on – Raiders of the Lost Ark

raiders of the lost ark, indy and truck, steven spielberg

One of the most memorable scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy gets thrown out of a truck only to manoeuvre under the truck and use his whip to cling on to the back of it. All the while the driver continues to throttle along at high speed.

6. Ripples in the glass of water. Boom…Boom. T-Rex attack – Jurassic ParkSee also: “Spielberg dares to parody himself in Jurassic Park”

cup of water ripples, t-rex attack, jurassic park,

Simple but effective is an often used phrase but it couldn’t be more apt for the rippling water. Here Spielberg tells us something very large is looming. Our anticipation, thanks to the fact we’ve already seen the ‘nice’ dinosaurs, is telling us that this is something to be afraid of.

5. “Smile you son of a bitch” – JawsJaws 5 coming soon…apparently!

steven spielberg, jaws, smile you son of a bitch, jaws ending

Could Jaws have ended any better? To conclude a great film with such a wonderful line of dialogue is the icing on the tastiest cake ever made.

4. Normandy landings on D-Day at Omaha Beach – Saving Private RyanSee also Classic Scenes #2

saving private ryan, world war II, omaha beach, normandy, steven spielberg

Aesthetically one of the best World War II sequences ever filmed. Brutal, realistic, groundbreaking.

3. Mine rail car escape – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doomsee our comic strip look at Temple of Doom

indiana jones tmeple of doom rail car escape

You could say the blockbuster is a rollercoaster ride of emotion depicted on film. Here, Spielberg literally takes the audience on the rollercoaster.

2. Children escape authorities through flight – E.T.: The Extraterrestrial

kids take flight on BMX bikes et steven spielberg

Evading the authorities who want to experiment on their peaceful alien friend, the kids take flight. At that moment there is a butterfly in my stomach that suddenly awakens and takes flight with them. It is an indescribable feeling but one I cherish each and every time I see the film.

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1. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” – JawsJaws 5 coming soon…apparently!

you're gonna need a bigger boat, jaws, steven spielberg, chief brody, roy scheider

The scene when Jaws is finally revealed is also the moment one of the most iconic movie lines of all time is uttered. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” Chief Brody says to Quint. The line has become part of popular culture and is the go-to phrase whenever a person is faced with an insurmountable proposition.

What’s your favourite moment in a Steven Spielberg film?

Part of Steven Spielberg Week on Top10Films (11th to 19th September 2010)

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Anna Reply

    The scene in Schindler’s List where Schindler tells Stern that he “didn’t do enough”. So heartbreaking.

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    joseph.b Reply

    For action it has to be the Velociraptor’s attacking the kids in Jurassic Park or Indiana Jones dodging the huge rock at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    For comedy I’d say Tom Cruise chasing his own eyes in Minority Report or the scenes involving Sean Connery and Harrison Ford in Last Crusade.

    For heartbreaking drama it has to be the ‘I’ll be right here’ bit from E.T! That scene gets me every time! 😉

  3. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Anna: Great choice Anna!

    @Joseph.b: Indiana Jones fan?

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    Thomas Reply

    Hey Dan, nice idea, and it is stunning, indeed how many scenes and moments are absolutely iconic in cinema history. My take:
    honourable mention: Falling asleep in “Empire of the Sun” (just me, kidding…)
    5. The Ferris Wheel on the Loose in “1941”
    4. Ripping out the Heart of the Victim’s Chest in “Temple of Doom”
    3. Raptors chasing the people in the kitchen in “Jurassic Park”
    2. The scene of the robot kid sitting in his ship under water for thousands of years in “A.I.”
    1. The absolute classic: The Huge Stone Rolling at the Opening of “Raiders”

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    Troy Laclure Reply

    …the rolling rock was one I’ll always remember.

    …and Indy grabbing his hat as the trap door is closing on his hand in Temple of Doom.

    Yep, another Indiana Jones fan here.

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    Rodney Reply

    My personal favourite (among the many), the amazing plane fight/brawl ending in human propellor splatter during Raiders of The Lost Ark. Fight, plus fuel leak, plus open flame, plus John Williams great music = classic Spielberg.

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    Grace Owen Reply

    The beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark stands out as memorable but I love the scene in ET when ET’s heart starts glowing red and the plant comes back to life. It’s such a warm and happy moment with a touch of comedy as Elliot tries to cover-up ET’s renewed health. Great top 10 btw!

  8. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Thomas: Some great choices there Thomas. A.I. is definitely one that could have been featured in the above list a lot more – there’s some wonderful moments in the film and Spielberg displays some of his most beautiful photography. I love some of the images of Osment and the little teddy bear.

    @Troy: Yeah, the rolling rock is a memorable one. I actually like the scene just before it when it doesn’t look like Indy will make it through the trapdoor.

    @Rodney: Great scene, Rodney. It’s surprising to think of a family film being so bloody – the ending of Raiders with the melting faces is horrific!

    @Grace: Love E.T. E.T. in a dress would be another good one.

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    MuLLen Reply

    Ben Gardner’s head popping out at Hooper in Jaws is tops for me – THE jump-out-of-your-seat moment! Nice list!

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    Gustavo Reply

    Mine is number 9 for sure…

    I’d have included the whole contact/symphony from CE3K and David’s defrost by advanced mechas in A.I..

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    Richard Reply

    Great list, Dan. And brilliant idea for a blog. Definitely got some classic moments in there. I’d have to go for the rolling boulder from Raiders as well. And the mashed potato sculpture in Close Encounters. And the tripod coming out of the ground in War of the Worlds. And the… okay, I’ll shut up now. 🙂

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    Jaccstev Reply

    I just can’t forget the hide-and-go-seek scene in the restaurant kitchen with a pair of velociraptors stalking the young children in Jurassic Park.

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    Dan Reply

    @MuLLen: That’s a definite classic. Great ‘jump’ moment and one that wasn’t actually conceived until Spielberg was in the editing room.

    @Gustavo: I think that scene in Jurassic Park is one of the most awe-inspiring – Spielberg sets us up for it beautifully.

    @Richard: Mash potato mountains – love that as well!

    @Jaccstev: Yeah, that’s a great scene. They tried to recreate in The Lost World but it wasn’t as good, especially when that little girl started doing gymnastics in order to escape the dinos.

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    The Dude Reply

    You’re gonna need a bigger boat – great number 1, that would have to be mine too.

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