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

Emilio Audissino


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.


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

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