See how young Steven Spielberg fell in love with the film on The Fabelmans – Texas Public Radio | Episode Movies

Steven Spielberg has never shied away from weaving elements of his family history into his films. He has spoken in interviews about how his father’s World War II stories formed 1941 and The soldier James Ryanand how ET and Close Encounters of the Third Kind grew out of the pain of his parents’ divorce.

Now, at 75, Spielberg is putting that divorce front and center The Fabelmans, along with many other details from his childhood and youth. It is his fourth collaboration with playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner, and for the first time the two share credit. The film is funny, melancholic and overall wonderful. And if his portrayal of a young screen prodigy borders on smugness, that’s easy to forgive given who this prodigy has become. In the film, his name is Sammy Fabelman, and we first meet him as a young boy in 1950’s New Jersey. From the moment his parents took him to live with Cecil B. DeMille The greatest show in the worldhe is addicted and he knows he has found his calling.

Shooting beautifully immersive long takes with longtime cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, Spielberg lovingly recreated his early memories of filmmaking. We see Sammy making monster movies with his younger sisters using ketchup as fake blood. Later, as a teenager in the early ’60s, Sammy, played by the handsome Gabriel LaBelle, will direct some great short films, including a western and a war film.

Filmmaking provides Sammy with a degree of stability amid the upheavals of his family life. His kindhearted father Burt, played with painful reticence by Paul Dano, is an electrical engineer whose work in the burgeoning computer industry keeps him and the family moving, relocating over the years from New Jersey to Phoenix, Arizona in Northern California.

All of these changes take a heavy toll on Sammy’s free-spirited mother, Mitzi, played by Michelle Williams in an emotionally vibrant and ultimately devastating performance. Williams shows us Mitzi’s charisma and restlessness, but also her deep regret at having sacrificed a career as a concert pianist to raise her family. Mitzi urges Sammy to pursue his dreams as a filmmaker. A close family friend, Bennie, played by Seth Rogen, proves equally encouraging. But Sammy’s father wishes he did something more practical, like computer science or engineering.

That tension is brilliantly articulated by Sammy’s great-uncle, Boris, who one day drops by for an unexpected visit. Played by the wonderful Judd Hirsch, Boris, a former circus performer and silent film actor, tells Sammy about the costs of a life in the arts. it will rip your heart out. Art is not a game! Art is dangerous like a snapdragon. She’ll bite your head off.”

Sammy loves making films, partly because it gives him the illusion of control. While shooting with an 8mm camera and hand-editing scenes, he discovers that he can bend reality to his will and even process his fears and insecurities. That feels like a remarkably candid admission from Spielberg, who was often taken to task by critics for being overly manipulative, indulging in easy sentimentality, and avoiding more difficult questions.

But what does The Fabelmans It’s so impressive that it knows there’s more to movies than appearances. Over time, Sammy learns that a camera can see things that the human eye can’t see, that it can reveal painful secrets. One summer he’s filming a family camping trip, and what happens next has serious repercussions for his parents and siblings. Spielberg unwraps these revelations in an almost wordless sequence that ranks among the most lyrical filmmakers of his career. It’s painful to watch as his young alter ego comes to terms with the truth about who his parents are, learns to forgive them, and embrace the good they both taught him.

As sad as his family portrait is, The Fabelmans is also Spielberg’s funniest film in a long time; it has a winningly wild spirit.

As sad as his family picture may be, The Fabelmans is also Spielberg’s funniest film in a long time; it has a winningly wild spirit. Sure, there are some overly funny moments at Sammy’s high school, where he meets his first love and bumps into anti-Semitic athletes, but even those scenes prove compelling. It’s just as satisfying here as in other Spielberg films duel and Hunter of the lost treasure to see bullies get their comeuppance. It’s also satisfying to see young Sammy face off against one of his personal screen heroes in a moment that’s just too good to spoil.

Did it all really happen? It’s doubtful; Like all great storytellers, Spielberg knows the value of artificiality and embellishment. But always clean The Fabelmanshe uses his amazing mastery of the medium to reach amazing new depths of emotional truth.

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