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Steven Spielberg will be Harvard’s 2016 commencement speaker

Lights, camera — commencement.

Harvard University officials announced Thursday that Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, known for blockbuster films such as “Jaws,” “Jurassic Park,” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” will be the featured speaker during this year’s commencement ceremonies.

The filmmaker will deliver remarks to the graduating class at the school’s 365th Commencement on May 26.

“Steven Spielberg is a genre-defying filmmaker whose unparalleled creativity has fueled countless imaginations,” Harvard President Drew Faust said in a statement. “An extraordinary storyteller, he has given voice to the silenced and brought history to life.”

Spielberg has won an Academy Award twice for best director: for “Saving Private Ryan,” starring Tom Hanks, and “Schindler’s List.”


Prior to Thursday’s announcement, Harvard officials posted to social media a short video teaser filled with hints about who would be coming to campus to bid farewell to the Class of 2016. The video, shared on Twitter, used clues drawn from Spielberg classics.

The 40-second video opened up with the camera zooming in on a glass full of water. As the music played in the background, the water began to ripple, much like the glass of water in “Jurassic Park,” right before a tyrannosaurus rex appears on screen.

The video then showed the John Harvard statue donning a brown hat similar to the one worn by Harrison Ford in the “Indiana Jones” films.

A third shot in the short clip scanned across the steps of a building on Harvard’s campus, where a trail of Reese’s Pieces candies were carefully laid out. The candy was a favorite of the extraterrestrial in Spielberg’s classic “E.T.”

In the final scene of the video, a shark — does “Jaws” ring a bell? — emerged from a pool of water.

“We’re gonna need a bigger boat for #Harvard16 Commencement,” officials tweeted.


Spielberg is no stranger to Harvard’s campus. In 2013, he was one of six people awarded the W.E.B. Du Bois medal during a special ceremony.

A year later, Spielberg sat down with Harvard University President Drew Faust for an intimate discussion about what makes him tick, and inspires him, as a filmmaker.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.