|John Ford: When the horizon’s at the bottom, it’s interesting. When the horizon’s at the top, it’s interesting. When the horizon’s in the middle, it’s boring as shit. Now, good luck to you. And get the fuck out of my office!|
|Director: Steven Spielberg|
|Writers: Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner|
|Starring: Michelle Williams, Gabriel LaBelle, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen|
Synopsis: Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.
This is a heartfelt tribute to Steven Spielberg’s youth, his legacy, and his contribution to the world of cinema. It is rare to have a biographical film made by the actual biographer, and this one is both beautifully shot and directed. Spielberg has always been one of my favorite directors, and I remember him being one of the first directors I became aware of as a child. I saw E.T. in theaters (it must have been a re-release because I can’t imagine watching it when I was born), and I was in awe of its mix of fantasy, science-fiction, and pure entertainment. As a young boy, I could never have imagined such a story until I saw it on the big screen.
E.T. was a critical and financial success worldwide, and Spielberg was destined to become one of the most recognized film directors of all time. As I grew up, he continued to create incredible films such as the non-stop thrills of the Indiana Jones trilogy, the grand science-fiction majesty and awe of 1994’s Jurassic Park and the heartbreak of Schindler’s List, the fun and campy sequel of 1997’s The Lost World, the brutal violence of 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, the loneliness of youth in 2001’s A.I., the futuristic sensation of 2002’s Minority Report and the fun and heartbreak of Catch Me If You Can, the sobering 2005’s War of the Worlds and Munich, 2012’s historic Lincoln, and 2015’s spy drama Bridge of Spies. All of these films are classic examples of mainstream blockbuster entertainment, often with a focus on value and wide appeal, with excellent actors, cinematography, and editing.
I remember watching his earlier films on video to catch up on his oeuvre, such as 1971’s Duel, 1975’s Jaws, and 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, all of which blew me away as a child. Spielberg inspired me to become a filmmaker and a film critic, and he has consistently made iconic films throughout his career.
“The Fabelmans” is a stunning tribute to the art of filmmaking, with every frame exquisitely shot. Watching this movie brings back memories of my own childhood, making home movies with my digital video camera. Spielberg was a true inspiration then, and watching this film reminds me of his influence on me.
The movie follows Steven Spielberg’s childhood as a Jewish boy growing up in America with a father who worked in engineering and loved to travel, and a mother who was passionate about the arts. Paul Dano and Michelle Williams play these roles perfectly. In the film, Spielberg changes his name to Sammy Fabelman, and the character is played brilliantly by both Gabriel LaBelle and Mateo Zoryan as the younger Sammy.
Sammy is a curious and wide-eyed boy who is fascinated by everything. When his parents take him to the cinema for the first time, he is scared, shocked, and inspired. Watching the trains violently collide in the Cecil B. DeMille classic “The Greatest Show on Earth,” he becomes inspired to film his toy trains and crash them. As he grows up, he discovers he has a real talent for making films with his sisters. His Uncle Bennie, played confidently by Seth Rogen, encourages him to make more movies. Sammy’s mother, Mitzi Fabelman, especially encourages him to pursue his love of the arts and believe in himself. Mitzi’s character is portrayed by Michelle Williams with a melancholy allure that is both heartbreaking and extraordinary to watch. She doesn’t want her son to experience the mundanity of life and have his artistic dreams go unrealized, like hers did.
As Sammy grows older, his family moves to a new town, leaving behind their friends and familiar surroundings. When Sammy learns a troubling secret, he decides to stop making films and focus on his studies, which pleases his father but causes inner turmoil for Sammy. Giving up on one’s dreams due to heartbreak is never worth it.
Throughout the film, Spielberg infuses his signature magical touch, with elements of drama, hope, excitement, and redemption.
Steven Spielberg is undeniably one of the greatest artists of my generation, and he is a true inspiration to me. I aspire to be like him in many ways. This film is a classic, and it is fascinating to see a living biographer tackle their own life story on screen. It is a beautiful and inspiring film, and without a doubt, my favorite movie of 2022.