Always – Directed in 1989
- Dorinda’s birthday present (the ‘girl clothes’) is a very sheer dress with sparkles. What could be girlier than WOO’s Glinda costume, also sheer and twinkling? We’ve grown jaded about these fabrics after their proliferation among ice skating professionals…but years ago Glinda’s gown was truly a showstopper.
- Listen for the bells that chime before Pete’s final takeoff, foreshadowing the weirdness to come. In fact, there are chimes and blue lights twice before this instance signaling his coming demise: as the couple walks by plane after dance and as Pete raids refrigerator. The third blue light and chime occur when Dorinda takes Ted’s plane and nearly dies. Glinda’s arrival in WOO was signaled by a glowing bubble and chimes. You will also notice a clinking sign at the abandoned airstrip that forewarns Ted’s meeting with the lunatic. And a chime when Dorinda awakes to the vehicle crashing through her fence, after which she becomes ‘interested’ in Ted. See Color Purple, E.T., A.I., Close Encounters, Super 8, Jaws, Twilight Zone, Kick the Can episode, Always for clues from chimes or clinking.
- As for the blueness: hopelessness in Kansas was deliberately portrayed by its creators in sepia tones to achieve an ‘air of grayness’, a lack of the colorful world that ignites over the rainbow in Oz. Steven often varies between sepias, black and white, greenness, blueness…but one thing is for sure—when he sucks the color away, the situation is about to become very dire indeed.
- When Al sees Pete’s plane blow to smithereens and realizes his friend is gone, he places his hand against the plane’s window like Dorothy does against the crystal ball when Aunty Em fades away.
- Al swallows helium to talk like a munchkin—so does Pete at later point. Steven likes to play with Munchkin voices. See Inner Space, Poltergeist
- Dorinda often speeds around on her bicycle…See See Munich, Adventures of Tintin, Amistad, 1941, Always, Super 8, War of the Worlds, Empire of the Sun,The Goonies, Sugarland Express, Jaws, Inner Space.
- Pete’s spirit messes up on his first attempts to guide Dorinda and Ted onward. Hap straightens him out as they stroll through a golden field of grain. Crossing fields of one kind or another before plot turning points is a common thread in Spielberg films. See Color Purple, Saving Private Ryan, Lost World Jurassic Park, Twister. The characters will be in for some hard lessons ahead as happens to Dorothy and friends once they get through WOO’s field of poppies, but this primary test of their resolve gives them strength to prevail.
- The unreliable trickster makes his appearance in this film as the madman who repeats only snippets of Pete’s spiritual advice to Ted. As with WOO’s wizard, the information, promises, or rewards are not all they purport to be but somehow the trickster’s manipulations come together to fulfill what characters need. See A.I., Lincoln, Color Purple, Joe Vs. the Volcano, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, Empire of the Sun, Catch Me if You Can. Ironic references to this theme turn up in Spielberg’s very serious films—Schindler is a version of the trickster whose original impure motives end up transforming his life along with those he saves. Munich’s head assassin must face the dual sided coin; however ‘good’ the trickster’s political motive, its execution will stain him with blood.
- At end credits, right before they scroll by the Art Director, you will hear the music riff to Somewhere Over the Rainbow…if happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can’t I”, then it morphs away from the familiar melody.