53 Years Later, Steven Spielberg’s First Movie Still Passes the Test of Time

53 Years Later, Steven Spielberg’s First Movie Still Passes the Test of Time
Image credit: Legion-Media

It’s the case when the very first try wasn’t a miss.

Being recognized as the most commercially successful director of all time, Steven Spielberg has prominently inscribed his name in history. However, few people know that long before starting such iconic franchises, as Jaws, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park, the pioneer of the modern blockbuster had a very strong start as a full-length director.

Indeed, back in 1971, when Spielberg was only 25, he made a TV movie that holds up today. More than that, it can even be dubbed the most inventive film ever made by the accomplished filmmaker.

The movie’s seemingly straight-forward plot revolves around a salesman on his way to meet a client. He is driving his car through rural California, but his calm trip is about to be disturbed by a tanker truck driver, who starts chasing him down a highway.

The protagonist notices a mysterious person following him and is quick to get scared of being killed by him, and it turns his journey into a paranoidal heated roller coaster.

The most curious aspect of the movie appears to be the fact that we don’t see the chaser’s face, there are only a few shots of his arms and boots. Spielberg hides his antagonist on purpose, as the fear of the unknown is probably the greatest fear of all.

53 Years Later, Steven Spielberg’s First Movie Still Passes the Test of Time - image 1

The director’s fans can guess this theme is nothing new if we take his filmography into account. The depiction of a large force that isn’t fully understood or isn’t understood at all is present in later films, Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

This 89%-rated thriller, titled Duel, goes even further in this respect, as here the only one character has to deal with a completely unknown danger. Thus, we have one man, one truck and one gruesome fight to death, and it clearly adds to its spectacularity.

“I love this movie. Has all of Spielberg's hallmarks, although is [his] camera work is a bit more stylised, almost like Hitchcock,” says Redditor @SilentPineapple6862 about it.

Check out this timeless must-watch that deserves more attention just like other movies of the director, as Duel is available for streaming on Prime and Apple TV+ .