The technological revolution is rapidly changing the way that we watch movies and consume stories. For those of us who can remember when movies – mainstream and arthouse – were the main event when it came to cultural consumption, it may all seem like doom and gloom, however, one ray of hope is the podcast medium. The in-depth AAA interview with our favourite filmmaker or the retrospective story about the making of a classic film, both of which used to be available in magazine form, is now freely available on various podcast platforms of choice. Into the latter camp comes Blockbuster, a first of its kind 6x episode podcast that investigates the relationship between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, which changed the cinema landscape forever.
There have been various documentary style explorations of the making of classic movies, but Blockbuster is unique in its dramatisation of the story, putting scripted words into the mouths of actors playing the likes of Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, John Williams and of course, Lucas and Spielberg, and possessing a story arc that keeps you gripped throughout.
Immaculately sound designed, with a score that pays tribute to the John Williams music that changed soundtracks forever, the podcast is appropriately, the brainchild of journalist/filmmaker Matt Schrader, whose best-known previous work is Score, an award-winning podcast and documentary. Schrader’s sombre tones narrate throughout, segueing between the dramatised sections.
If there’s a failing to Blockbuster, it’s the lack of critical faculty. Sure, we hear about these mythological people’s personality flaws, however, the whole notion of the negative changes that Spielberg and Lucas’s cinema wrought are not explored – not in the first episode, at least, though we highly doubt the other 5 eps will delve into this murky area. There are impressive elements of Peter Biskind style retrospective storytelling to Blockbuster, however, where Biskind took no prisoners, Schrader is obviously a superfan and the result is intriguing – there are reams of interesting factoids revealed – and engrossing, but ultimately this is nostalgia pop culture of the highest order, with, appropriately enough, ‘the final episode due to drop during the week of May 25 – the 42-year anniversary of Star Wars’ release, which would play in theatres for over a year continuously’, in the words of Schrader himself.
Available through iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.