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The 25 Best Set Pieces of Steven Spielberg’s Career

The newest Steven Spielberg movie, Ready Player One, opens nationwide today. In honor of the occasion, we can indulge in some a Spielberg's greatest past work. A set piece is "a scene or sequence of scenes whose execution requires serious logistical planning and considerable expenditure of money." They can often stand alone without the rest of the film, but they cannot be taken out of a film without damaging the whole. For example:

7. Melting Nazis, Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

More than a decade before Spielberg The Grownup Filmmaker plunged audiences into the full horror of the Holocaust, Spielberg The Ageless Adolescent tackled history’s darkest chapter from a more boyish, innocently rousing vantage. Raiders Of The Lost Ark is all about sticking it to Hitler—a kind of fantasy score-settling that culminates in the film’s karmic, cathartic Grand Guignol climax. Tied to a nearby post, Ford’s Dr. Jones and Marion Crane (Karen Allen) avert their eyes as the Nazi bad guys pry open the titular artifact and get some supernatural comeuppance. The ethereal effects look primitive by today’s standards, but there’s a timeless (and, sadly, rather timely) thrill to watching these Third Reich scoundrels go from solid to liquid for their sins. It was neither the first nor the last time Spielberg would push the limits of the PG rating; everyone tends to attribute the introduction of PG-13 to the heart-ripping violence in his second Indiana Jones movie. But with Raiders, Spielberg traumatized all ages for a greater good. Remember, the next best thing to clocking a real Nazi is melting off the face of a fake one.

The AV Club looks at 25 such set pieces, arranged in chronological order, maybe because it would be too hard to rank them. Oh yeah, the videos are there, too. Scrolling through them is like watching all your favorite movies again.

(Image credit: Jimmy Hasse)


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