"... For Spielberg, violence is no Hemingway-esque test, it’s just an awful thing to be avoided at all costs and to be faced only if it’s absolutely unavoidable. He’s in the line of Eddie Cantor, Bob Hope, Woody Allen—a self-preserving adventurer, a timid homebody cast into troubled waters, an unambiguous opponent of death and anything that may cause it... The lust for violence is as alien to Spielberg as is lust itself; there’s no place in his work for any perverse ecstasy of suffering or of its infliction. (And far be it from this timid desk-jockey to suggest otherwise. But I’d hardly call my own modest comfort the engine of art—rather, it’s what I look to art to challenge.) Spielberg is an Id-free filmmaker, one with seemingly no wildness and no sympathy, overt or latent, for the devil. And it seems somehow churlish to feel cheated by its absence, as if one were ragging on niceness itself. Given Spielberg’s incontrovertible commercial success, calling out the hollow core of his work feels like laying oneself open to the charge of élitism, of “hating Hollywood” (a glance at my best-of lists should make it plain that I don’t)—as if it were the job of anyone but a studio publicist to endorse the industry as a whole rather than its best works." — Richard Brody, The Front RowFirstly, I agree that Tin Tin ring a little hollow next to Spielberg's best work, but I do not agree that all of his work is hollow, and suspect the age-old prejudice against optimists is at work here. “It’s a strange critical phenomenon that only works of art that are ‘edgy’ or ‘scary’ or ‘dangerous’ are regarded as in anyway noteworthy,” wrote Nick Hornby recently. ““Can’t we let them console, uplift, inspire, move, cheer? Please?” One should tread carefully: Brody has the critical consensus of a century to back him up. “Like the orange, Matisse’s work is a fruit bursting with light,” wrote Apollinaire in 1918. Picasso’s work, on the other hand “offers a thousand opportunities for meditation, all illuminated by an internal light. Beyond that light, however, lies an abyss of mysterious darkness... is this not the greatest aesthetic effort we have ever witnessed?” Got that? Light = lightweight. Dark = the greatest aesthetic effort in the history of mankind. (Matisse was aghast at his friend’s bias. “If people knew," he said, "what Matisse, the painter of happiness, had gone through, the anguish and tragedy he had to overcome . . . they would also realise that this happiness, this light, this dispassionate wisdom which seems to be mine, are sometimes well-deserved, given the severity of my trials.”) For Matisse vs Picasso read Lennon vs McCartney, Spielberg vs Scorsese, Morrissey vs the Pet Shop Boys, or any other of the cultural multiple choices by which it is determined whether you are un homme serieux, with the soul of a Russian, or a irretrievable lightweight with the depth of a puddle. When Carol Ann Duffy recently wrote in the pages of the New York Review of Books about a Ted Hughes poem that “seems to touch a deeper, darker place than any poem he’s ever written,” (it was about who Hughes was shagging the weekend Slyvia Plath committed suicide) we assume she meant it as praise. "Dark means serious,” commented Peter Steinfeld wrote on the Commonweal blog. “Dark means shadows. Dark means not evading the sad and inexplicable complexities of life.”
"Mr. Spielberg’s answers to this question tend to be hopeful, and his taste for happy, or at least redemptive endings is frequently criticized. But his ruthless optimism, while it has helped to make him an enormously successful showman, is also crucial to his identity as an artist, and is more complicated than many of his detractors realize. “War Horse” registers the loss and horror of a gruesomely irrational episode in history, a convulsion that can still seem like an invitation to despair. To refuse that, to choose compassion and consolation, requires a measure of obstinacy, a muscular and brutish willfulness that is also an authentic kind of grace."