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'Indiana Jones' Another Hit for Spielberg

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" earned more than $150 million in just its first weekend at the box office, another in a long string of Steven Spielberg hits. NPR's Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr talked to a scholar of Spielberg who's come up with one explanation for why his movies succeed.

JEFFREY FREYMANN-WEYR: Lester Friedman is chairman of the media and society program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and wrote the book "Citizen Spielberg."

Professor LESTER FRIEDMAN (Chairman, Media and Society Program, Hobart and William Smith Colleges): Almost all of the Spielberg films are about a breakup of some sort within a family and the ability of someone to put that family together.

FREYMANN-WEYR: Friedman says that Spielberg points to his parents' divorce and his own as the two worst events of his life, and bringing the onscreen family back together is just as important as the special effects and explosions.

Prof. FRIEDMAN: Spielberg is as interested in those characters as he is in the roller-coaster ride he's about to provide you. And that's what his imitators lack, quite frankly.

FREYMANN-WEYR: Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr
Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr (pronounced "FRIME ‘n’ WIRE") is a producer and editor for NPR's Arts Information unit, primarily dealing with the subjects of classical music and digital technology. Along with David Schulman, he co-produced the occasional series “Musicians In Their Own Words." Their profile of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Joseph Shabalala won a Silver Award at the 2004 Third Coast International Audio Festival.