Every passionate filmmaker of the world can likely scrub through the old film rolls of their life and pinpoint the exact chain of events in their childhood that led them to realize how magical, magnificent, and miraculous the world of cinema is. Few of those filmmakers have the repertoire and mastery to make an entire auto-biographical movie about it like Steven Spielberg does.
The Fabelmans follows young Sammy Fabelman growing up in post-World War II Arizona. He falls in love with movies after his parents take him to see “The Greatest Show on Earth,” but he soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of film can help him see the truth. Dodge College was lucky enough to have an advanced screening of the film last week.
If you are a film student, you will love this movie. I felt similar coming out of this film as I did walking out of “La La Land”. Damien Chazelle captured what it felt like to be an up-and-coming creative mind in modern-day Hollywood. Steven Spielberg captures what it feels like to be a child interested in movie-making. We can all relate to a parent or older family member telling us our interest in film can’t turn into a real job in the future. “Dad, can you stop calling this a hobby,” says Sammy when his father disapproves of how much time he spends using his silly little camera. Many authority figures in our lives who aren’t immersed in the arts will never understand how fulfilling and rewarding working in the film industry is. There is quite a mix of advice coming from all sides at Sammy during the film, but the most truthful come from Sammy’s great uncle Boris Schildkraut. “Art is our drug. You will make movies and do your art, but remember how it hurts. It will be lonely.” Gabriel Labelle’s portrayal of Sammy perfectly encapsulates the feelings of being an aspiring filmmaker when the world around you continues to put you down.
If you are a parent, you will love this movie. Paul Dano and Michelle Williams are two of the best working actors in the industry today. Sammy’s mother, played by Williams, is all for Sammy following his dreams. She gave him a camera and pushed him to make his first movie: a toy train crashing into a toy car – a replica of a scene from The Greatest Show on Earth. “Everything happens for a reason,” she says. I am a big believer in the sentiment, and this movie made me even more sure. Everything that happened in Spielberg’s life – every argument at a family dinner, camping trip, and punch from a bully – led him to create some of the best and most well-known movies ever to grace the silver screen. Everything has led him to The Fabelmans, his magnum opus.
If you are someone, anyone, you will love this movie. The Fabelmans is a spectacle that should be watched by all. It will make you laugh, cry, and cheer at the screen. It is a culmination of the power of film and how it can change a life. “You do what your heart says you have to. ‘Cause you don’t owe anyone your life.” Sammy’s mother says. Like many film students worldwide who look up to Spielberg, art is our drug. There is not much in the world that can stop us.
This may be one of Spielbergs last directorial credits of his career, but it will be the birth of a career for many others. “Life is nothing like the movies, Fabelman.” Well, for many of us, life is the movies.