A Warm Hug from The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg is the movie industry’s ultimate protagonist, an influencer of the coming-of-age narrative, and an auteur of visual storytelling. Born into the Spielbergian suburbs of the 80s, I was blessed to grow up with his imagination and knack for child-height thrills. Little did I know that Spielberg instilled a tiny moviegoer in me in search of something relatable and empathetic on the screen. I was in awe while he was just being nostalgic.

With Spielberg’s latest in The Fabelmans, everyone is allowed to be nostalgic. Your first movie in a darkened theatre, first kiss, first bully, and the first time you realized your family isn’t perfect — these are all memories held dear and sometimes encapsulated best by the rose-colored or starkly black-and-white medium of film.

Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical journey follows Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle in his breakout role) and his blossoming passion for making movies. As his cameras evolve, and he masters his editing skills, it becomes obvious that Sammy’s eye for the lens can communicate clearer than the spoken word.

Although the origin of Steven Spielberg—the movie director—is the prominent focus, none of his artistry could exist without the love, dysfunction, and ethical battlegrounds within his family.

Michelle Williams as Sammy’s (Steven’s) mother is the tender heart of the film. She carries a burden too big for an adolescent son to understand but too great an opportunity for reconciliation to ignore. Williams is tremendous, and her performance accomplishes the emotional impact the movie needs at points.

Spielberg’s from-memory tale is informative of the cinematic genius we enjoy today but slight in overall production value and poetic interpretation. Several of the footage shot-to-screen moments come off redundant, and surprisingly, there is very little grace and glory from John Williams, who has been providing groundbreaking music for Spielberg since the ascending minor second in Jaws (1974). These holes are felt sporadically, and the disconnect might be in translating something personal to something entertaining to the audience.

Gabriel LaBelle playing a younger version of Steven Spielberg, directed by Spielberg himself.

Still, at its warm and sincere center, The Fabelmans is not just the reason we go to the movies, but the reason we seek a world comfortably close to our own. Spielberg has always been a master at blending the empathy with the escape in his movies, and The Fabelmans provides the reason why.

**** out of *****

Thank you for reading,

Reely Bernie

Also, I realize it’s a daunting task, but feel free to share your Top Five Favorite Steven Spielberg Movies of All Time. Mine are:

  1. Jaws (1975)
  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  4. Schindler’s List (1993)
  5. Jurassic Park (1993)

30 thoughts on “A Warm Hug from The Fabelmans

Add yours

  1. Lovely writing Bernie. Im liking the sound of this and really please to Ah e found your blog. Top fives? Spielberg? I’m in.
    1. Jaws
    2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    3. Catch Me If You Can
    4. E.T
    5. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
    Umm 6. Jurassic Park

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and contributing 🙂 I agree: Jaws has everything Spielberg from imagination thrills, character arcs, some child perspective, Williams’s score, and a heck of an ending! And, to think he was still somewhat a rookie at the time!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Totally agree. I’m glad the mechanical shark didn’t work for them, and the bits where it was included could have been cut as well. The camera and implications and fears already did the trick!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. 5. Jaws because I love Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfus’ chemistry on the ship
    4. Minority Report because it looks more and more like today
    3. Raiders of the Lost Ark for its pacing and brilliant story telling and sense of fun
    2. Schindler’s List — Liam Neeson plays a great humanist amidst the evil of the Nazi regime
    1. Empire of the Sun– The point of view of the child captured by Christian Bale’s performance is so moving I remembered sobbing at the end, embarrassing myself in the theater.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Believe it or not, Spielberg and team did a lot of research on future culture and tech, and much of what we saw is not only happening today, the eye ID tech and hovering vehicles are predicted to be launched around 2035. That movie was way ahead of its time! And, yes, Spielberg captures the point of view of the child better than any Director out there!

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    1. You’ll love it because I know you appreciate Spielberg and film. It is not for the cynics who can’t deal with a little syrup, heartwarming nostalgia, and well-intentioned parents 🙂

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      1. I like his heart-warming stuff. The guy is a genius. Anything by him especially if it’s a biopic is a must-see. But here is the cynical side – we have lots of these docos already which show us how he came into it, so to replicate what we have ‘for real’ – is stretching. But it’s how he wants to be seen / portrayed and that’s as good as anything going around.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Devils Advocate… Hehe. But this is a bio pic and I have seen him countless times in old video reels talking about where he was going. So, I would rather watch him in the original than someone made up to portray him. But I may have missed something and this could be great. I see what you mean about Docs for facts.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. 5. Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom
    4. Jurassic Park
    3. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
    2. Jaws
    1. E.T.

    It was hard to leave Saving Private Ryan and Duel off this. Perhaps if I had seen Duel recently, I might have replaced it with Temple Of Doom…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fine Review, RB.

    Here we go:

    1) Duel (1971) Made for TV, his first major directorial effort. See it if you haven’t.
    2) Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) The scene where the pilot is asked if he wants to report what he just saw in the skies. Utterly real. And chilling.
    3) Jaws (1975) Sublime acting tour de force. Including the shark.
    4) The Sugarland Express (1974) Captures small town Texas perfectly. I know. Having grown up and gone to college in The Lone Star State, I’ve been to a buttload of ’em.
    5) Munich (2005) Riveting account of one of humankind’s most shocking tragedies.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great, unique selections, John. Many are overlooked still today. It’s really an impossible list to create. So subjective. I appreciate your explanations. Close Encounters is one of my John Williams faves because of the leitmotif 🙂

      Like

        1. Loved it. My dad showed it to me when I was a kid. Minimalistic. You never see the dang driver! You don’t need to. The imagination does all the work! Loved the scene when the driver hand signals the pass. Nope! Haha!

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  5. Mine are… The first two are the same movies…Jaws and the truck in Duel are the same.
    1. Duel
    2. Jaws
    3. Jurassic Park (original) (I think the movie had the biggest impact on special effects)
    4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    5. Saving Private Ryan

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Duel put him on the map. Great, minimalist thriller. My dad showed that to me when I was a kid, and I thought it was fascinating that we never got to see the truck driver’s face! Yeah, Jurassic was not only groundbreaking in CGI, it used it in meaningful context – unlike so many movies these days that just use it to use to the point of a cartoon video game!!!

      Liked by 3 people

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