Bicycles, Airplanes and Peter Pans: Flying Scenes in Steven Spielberg's Films


  • Emilio Audissino University of Southampton



Steven Spielberg, Flight, Hollywood Cinema, Peter Pan, James M. Barrie


In Steven Spielberg's cinema the flight is a recurring theme. Flying scenes can be sorted into two classes: those involving a realistic flight – by aircraft – and those involving a magical flight – by supernatural powers. The realistic flight is influenced by the war stories of Spielberg's father – a radio man in U.S. Air-force during WWII – and it is featured in such films as Empire of the Sun (1987), Always (1989), and 1941 (1979). The magical flight is influenced by James M. Barries' character Peter Pan (Peter and Wendy, 1911), which is quoted directly in E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982) and, above all, in Hook (1991), which is a sequel to Barrie's story. These two types of flying scenes are analysed as to their meanings, compared to the models that influenced them, and surveyed as to their evolution across Spielberg's films. A central case study is the episode The Mission from Amazing Stories (1985), in which the realistic and the magical flights overlap.

Author Biography

Emilio Audissino, University of Southampton

Emilio Audissino (University of Southampton) holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pisa and specialises in Hollywood cinema, film style, film dubbing, and film music. He holds a Vice Chancellor's Award in Film at the University of Southampton where he is working on a new approach to the analysis of music in films from a film scholar's perspective. He is the author of John Williams's Film Music: 'Jaws', 'Star Wars', 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and the Return of the Classical Hollywood Film Music Style (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), the first English-language monograph on the composer.




How to Cite

Audissino, E. (2014). Bicycles, Airplanes and Peter Pans: Flying Scenes in Steven Spielberg’s Films. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 3(2), 103–119.