There is not one correct or definitive answer to the question, “Who is the greatest filmmaker of all time?” However, when constructing a personal Mt. Rushmore of one’s four choices for the most important and influential artists in cinematic history, Steven Spielberg would likely be included. The three-time Academy Award® winner – two for both producing and directing 1993’s SCHINDLER’S LIST and one for helming 1998’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN – has been the driving force behind many of the most entertaining, acclaimed or iconic movies – such as the blockbuster, JAWS, the seminal action thriller, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, or the heartwarming sci-fi drama, E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL – for nearly 50 years.
But, who really is the man behind these motion picture classics? Spielberg himself intends to answer that question with THE FABELMANS – a new drama that he directed and co-wrote with his WEST SIDE STORY screenwriter Tony Kushner about the personal struggles of a Jewish family, loosely based on his own, in post-World War II America. Coming to AMC Theatres on November 23, 2022, it is a powerful and uplifting story that has been selected to be an AMC Artisan Film, which may come as no surprise to fans of the master filmmaker. Yet, for anyone curious about what specifically makes THE FABELMANS an essential watch, allow us to explain.
Brings A Unique Vision And Perspective
Every legend of the cinematic arts had to start somewhere. For Steven Spielberg, his desire to be a filmmaker began when his parents took him to see the very first movie he ever saw, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH. It was the trainwreck featured in Cecil B. Demille’s 1952 classic that really captivated the young boy, leading him to ask his parents to buy him a train set that he would go on to use to recreate the tremendous disaster himself. After discovering that he could relive this effect as many times as he wanted to by capturing it on film, a new, lifelong obsession was born.
With THE FABELMANS, Spielberg gives the audience an up close account of this landmark event of his young life that set him on the path to a career in capturing drama on camera, but from the perspective of a young man named Sam Fabelman. Through this new character, we gain a deeper understanding of the filmmaker’s passion for the art and how some of the warmest and most challenging moments of his youth influenced his artistic prowess. Yet, because it is from the point of view of someone with a different name, it still feels like a new and refreshing story about the origins of creativity and the magical process of bringing an idea to life.
Unites An Acclaimed Cast
Bringing the captivating story of THE FABELMANS to life and to mesmerizing effect is its wonderful cast of mostly well-known and experienced actors. As electrical engineer and practical, devoted family man Burt Fabelman, we have the always electrifying Paul Dano, along with Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams as his wife and the encouraging and charmingly eccentric mother of the family, Mitzi.
Seth Rogen stars as Benny Lowery – Burt’s co-worker and best friend who is so close to the Fabelmans that the kids affectionately refer to him as their uncle – while the children’s actual, estranged uncle, Boris, is portrayed by Oscar® nominee Judd Hirsch in a brief, but memorable appearance. Julia Butters – one of Hollywood’s most promising young talents at the moment and best-known for her scene-stealing part in ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD – gives one of her strongest performances yet as the family’s eldest daughter, Reggie. Leading the FABELMANS cast as Sam is Gabriel LaBelle, who actually bears a striking resemblance to a young Steven Spielberg.
Stretches Actors Outside Their Comfort Zones
Beyond Gabriel LaBelle’s resemblance to the filmmaker he is portraying a fictionalized version of in THE FABELMANS, the young actor – also known from 2018’s THE PREDATOR and Showtime’s “American Gigolo” – carries the film splendidly with his performance. From the way Sam’s passion for making movies radiates through him and his portrayal of the challenging nature of adolescence, family struggles and the pressures of college, it seems clear that we are witnessing the birth of a movie star happening on screen.
A FABELMANS cast member well past movie star status is Seth Rogen, but you almost forget you are watching the writer, director, producer and actor known best for comedies like KNOCKED UP or THIS IS THE END in how he almost disappears into his still somewhat comedic role with a real sense of heart and earnestness. Yet, it is Michelle Williams who elevates the story to such fantastic heights with a charming, compelling and devastating powerhouse performance that could very likely earn her a fifth Oscar nomination and, perhaps, her first win.
Features A Compelling Score
A Steven Spielberg movie just does not quite feel complete without the music of John Williams, whose unforgettable soundtracks have been a key component to the lasting power of many of the filmmaker’s best titles – such as the Oscar-winning scores from JAWS or E.T., or the iconic theme song from the INDIANA JONES movies. However – while Williams did serve as a music consultant for 2021’s WEST SIDE STORY – THE POST in 2017 was actually the last of Spielberg’s movies to be composed by the legendary musician… until now.
It seems only appropriate that one of Spielberg’s closest and most frequent collaborators would come back after five years to create music for one of the filmmaker’s most personal movies yet. The score that Williams composes for THE FABELMANS also feels very personal, capturing the emotional impact of the film’s most pivotal and memorable moments to an either invigorating or heartbreaking degree. Simply put, this is one of the most iconic composers in cinematic history doing what he does best – making one of the most iconic filmmakers in history look even better.
With its inspiring story, its masterful ensemble and one of John Williams’ finest scores in years, THE FABELMANS is more than just a must-see for fans of the work of Spielberg. This is a film that serves as a love letter to the art of cinema itself and celebrates any person who ever dreamed of making it in the business themselves and made sacrifices in the hope of achieving it. It could not have been an easier choice to deem it an AMC Artisan Film. See it at your favorite AMC Theatre location starting November 11.