top of page

Steven Spielberg: “I Was in a Celluloid Bubble”

AdTech Ad

I friend of mine recently graduated from Harvard and told me about this commencement address.  I watched it on Youtube and loved what I saw.  Here is the text of his commencement address.


Steven Spielberg: “I Was in a Celluloid Bubble”


Steven Spielberg Photograph by Stu Rosner

“It’s an honor and a thrill to address this group of distinguished alumni and supportive friends and kvelling parents,” said Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg, Ar.D. ’16, speaking to the Harvard graduates and their friends and families who assembled in Tercentenary Theatre for the Harvard Alumni Association’s annual meeting on Thursday afternoon.

He began by recounting how he recently completed his own educational undertaking. “I can remember my college graduation—which is easy, since it was only 14 years ago. How many of you took 37 years to graduate? Like most of you, I began college in my teens, but sophomore year I was offered my dream job at Universal Studios, so I dropped out. I told my parents that if my movie career didn’t go well, I would re-enroll. It went all right.” Eventually he returned “for my kids. I’m the father of seven, and I kept insisting on the importance of going to college, but I hadn’t walked the walk. So in my fifties, I re-enrolled at Cal State, Long Beach, and I earned my degree.” After the audience applauded, he said, “I just have to add, it helped that they gave me course credit in paleontology for the work that I did on Jurassic Park. Three years of Jurassic Park. Thank you.”

Spielberg then reflected on inner purpose, and what shapes it:

I left college because I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and some of you know, too, but some of you don’t. Or maybe you thought you knew but are now questioning that choice. Maybe you’re sitting here trying to figure out how to tell your parents that you want to be a doctor and not a comedy writer. Well, what you choose to do next is what we call, in the movies, ‘a character-defining moment.’ Now, these are moments that you’re very familiar with, like in the last Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when Rey realizes the Force is with her, or Indiana Jones choosing mission over fear by jumping into a pile of snakes. Now, in a two-hour movie, you get a handful of character-defining moments. But in real life, you face them every day. Life is one long string of character-defining moments, and I was lucky that at 18, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. But I didn’t know who I was.

The filmmaker—of Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List, and most recently The BFG—delivers Harvard’s 2016 Commencement address.

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page