For close to five decades, Steven Spielberg has delivered some of the most important pieces of cinema ever committed to celluloid. But even with cultural touchstones like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Schindler's List, and Saving Private Ryan on his prolific resume, the celebrated filmmaker found himself yearning to tell a more personal tale. A tale of family and cinema; of the people, places, tribulations, and, above all, moving pictures that made him the icon he is today.
That desire manifested itself in The Fabelmans, a semi-autobiographical look at Spielberg's childhood upbringing in Arizona. "I cannot even imagine going through my career without having told this story," the director states in a new behind-the-scenes featurette. "This movie for me was like a time machine, in the sense that The Fabelmans wasn't about metaphor — it was about memory."
Put another way, this project drills down to the very source of the themes he's explored time and again on the silver screen: broken families, discrimination, the loss of innocence, and the awe-inspiring nature of a well-told story.
"If this was any film, it would've been a very impactful learning experience for me, but the fact that it was a Steven Spielberg film — and the fact that it meant even more to him than it did myself — I'm very grateful to be a part of that," adds Gabriel LaBelle, who plays the role of Spielberg proxy, Sammy Fabelman.
Check out the featurette below:
Spielberg co-wrote the screenplay with regular creative collaborator, Tony Kushner (Munich, Lincoln, West Side Story). Both serve as producers alongside Kristie Macosko Krieger. Carla Raij and Josh McLaglen are executive producers. Per Kushner, the goal was to "make a movie that reflected a human experience that's familiar and something that would say something about life."
"I wanted people to see their own families inside the story," echoes Spielberg. "Because this story is about family. It's about parents, it's about siblings, it's about bullying, it's about the good and bad things that happen when you're growing up in a family that stays together until they're no longer together."
Michelle Williams (Sammy's artistic mother, Mitzi), Paul Dano (Sammy's science-driven father, Burt), Seth Rogen (Burt's best friend, Bennie, and an honorary uncle to the Fabelman children), Judd Hirsch (Mitzi's uncle, Boris), Jeannie Berlin (Sammy’s paternal grandmother, Hadassah Fabelman), Julia Butters (Sammy’s sister, Reggie), Robin Bartlett (Sammy’s maternal grandmother, Tina Schildkraut), and Keeley Karsten (Sammy’s sister, Natalie) co-star.
The Fabelmans is currently enjoying a limited theatrical run before its wide release this Wednesday, Nov. 23. Click here to purchase tickets. The movie currently holds a near-perfect score of 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
In the mood for classic Spielberg? E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is now streaming on Peacock.