Cinema's most successful director is a commercial and cultural force demanding serious consideration. Not just triumphant marketing, this international popularity is partly a function of the movies themselves. Polarised critical attitudes largely overlook this, and evidence either unquestioning adulation or vilification mdash;often vitriolic mdash;for epitomising contemporary Hollywood. Detailed textual analyses reveal that alongside conventional commercial appeal, Spielberg's movies function consistently as a self-reflexive commentary on cinema. Rather than straightforwardly consumed realism or fantasy, they invite divergent readings and self-conscious spectatorship which contradict assumptions about their ideological tendencies. Exercising powerful emotional appeal, their ambiguities are profitably advantageous in maximising audiences and generating media attention.