8 connections between The Fabelmans and Steven Spielberg’s other films

The original king of the summer blockbuster, Steven Spielberg is a household name in a consumer culture more familiar with movie stars and intellectual property than auteur filmmakers. You’ll have a hard time finding someone who hasn’t heard of the man behind it Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaw, ET, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Parkand The soldier James Ryan.

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in the The Fabelmans, Spielberg dramatizes the inspirations and experiences that shaped his narrative interests. Part of the fun of an autobiopic is references to the classic audiences that our young focus knows will grow up loving an edition of Thor in Kenneth Branagh‘s Belfast or a family trip to see a space thriller Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma. Spielberg is too thoughtful an artist to litter the screen with Easter eggs, but observant viewers will notice thematic and visual nods to his varied filmography.


The absent father


Burt Fableman (Paul Dano) is a brilliant engineer whose lengthy technical explanations of mid-20th-century computing make groans at the dinner table. The family moves twice because of Burt’s work, and the animosity this causes reaches a fever pitch when Sam Fabelman (Gabriel Labelle) high school graduates; the real Sam Fabelman has since made movies about it one way or another. “Family, art – that tears you in two”, Uncle Boris (Judd Hirsch) warns Sam wisely. Most analysis of Spielberg’s collected works recognizes her focus on men who are torn between personal and professional commitments.

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in the Bridge of SpiesAttorney James Donovan (tom hanks) allows for his fundamental belief that everyone is entitled to a legal defense to substitute the interests of his family if he agrees to represent a captured Soviet spy (Markus Rylance). at its core, Lincolnis about a workaholic unable to connect with loved ones. scenes out Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field In light of this, waging a psychological battle against one another takes on a new meaning The Fabelmansreveals something about Spielberg’s upbringing.

The helpless romantic


The strong personality contrast between Burt and Mitzi (Michelle Williams) is established in the opening scene of the film. Queued for his first film—Cecil B. DeMille‘s The greatest show in the world— Sammy (Mateo Zoryon Francis DeFord) receives two very different crash courses from mom and dad in the majesty of the cinema. Burt attempts to explain the persistence of vision, but Mitzi strikingly reframes the subject in terms a 5-year-old can understand. “Movies are dreams,” she says, “that you never forget”. At HBO Spielberg, a documentary about the director’s life and career, he affectionately compares his mother to Peter Pan. “She was a sibling, not a parent.”

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Seeing Mitzi struggle through bouts of mania and depression is reminiscent of the protagonist of close encounters. While Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) shares traits with the archetypal Spielberg father, his staring obsession with distant worlds, not to mention the persistence he places in his premonitions, sets him apart from the grounded primary caregiver Burt represents. Temperamentally, he resembles more of the idealist, whose high-flying ambitions make him great buddies and ruthless caretakers at the same time.

The intruder

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Steven Spielberg has been open about his childhood and the way it influenced his work. Leah Adler‘s relationship to Arnold SpielbergHis colleague and best friend had a tremendous influence on the young artist and is unsurprisingly the central conflict of The Fabelmans. A similar break-up forms Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Catch Me If You Can.

Sam retires to filmmaking to escape his family dysfunction. By becoming a prolific con artist, Frank weaves his own make-believe world. Catch Me If You Can is non-fiction, but The Fabelmans sheds some light on what might have drawn Spielberg to Abagnale’s story.

Controlled chaos

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After receiving a model train car for each Hanukkah night, disaster artist Sammy Fabelman tries to recreate the famous robbery scene The greatest show in the worldh – a series of images that have haunted him since he saw the film with his parents. Burt is unhappy with Sammy’s disregard for the train set, but Mitzi secretly gives Sammy his father’s camera and tells him to re-enact the scene, this time while capturing it on film. She guesses right that Sammy is trying to overcome the fear of what he saw. Watching the chaos repeatedly, even on a reduced scale, gives him a sense of control over it.

While examples of the director’s fascination with slowly building disasters can be found throughout his filmography, it is particularly evident in duel and 1941. The same scene from The greatest show in the world this awakened and inspired young Steven Spielberg’s taste for the chaotic JJ Abrams while they were doing super 8for which Spielberg is considered a producer.

The conductor of moving images

Sam cuts and splices film to make a roll for Mitzi’s camping trip and discovers that his mother and Benny (Seth Rogen) are much, much closer than he ever thought. Before him, materialized in 8mm, is the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. He obsessively rolls the film back and forth, looking at each frame under a magnifying glass.

minority reportby John Anderton (Tom cruise) also conducts an orchestra of images until he can extract exactly the information he needs. Both scenes are set to classical music, and Janusz Kamiński even chooses to shoot her in a remarkably similar manner. In each case, the camera moves along an arc, circling the protagonist as he makes a startling discovery.

A special visitor

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Just as Mitzi and Burt’s differences become irreconcilable, Sam comes home and is surprised by a monkey wreaking havoc in the family’s (rented) living room. “I had to laugh,” his mother replies when asked why the household suddenly has a new member. The excitement and novelty temporarily distract the Fabelmans from their fragmenting momentum. in his heart ET is about an exotic creature who helps a little boy and his siblings get through their parents’ divorce.

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Benny the Monkey connects thematically with another of Spielberg’s non-human characters. in the warhorseunfortunate farmer Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) goes to town to get himself a farm horse, but instead returns with an undomesticated foal he spent a whopping 30 guineas on in an ego contest with his sleazy landlord. Just as Mitzi adopts the monkey to ease the pain of breaking up with the real Benny, Ted ruthlessly offers all of his family’s money, not so much for a horse as a symbol of the youthful vigor that has stolen his time .

The War Epic

The most ambitious project from Spielberg’s childhood that this memoir revives is undoubtedly Escape to Nowhere, a WWII film that foreshadows the epic that would earn the director his second Academy Award. To pay tribute to his father’s wartime tales, 13-year-old Sam Fabelman gathers his friends in the desert for a suspenseful, if amateurish, prequel The soldier James Ryan. But its leading man isn’t Tom Hanks.

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Trying to give the film’s star some direction, Sam urges him to take a minute and bemoan the staged carnage as if his character were morally to blame for what just happened. The young man replies in amazement: “You mean I should count to 60? Like one Mississippi, two Mississippi…?” Luckily, years later, Spielberg would try a similar scene again with a more experienced actor than his classmate. Captain Miller’s last stand remains one of the most emotionally resonant scenes of any war film ever made.

The problem solver

dano williams roe

Sam uses various tricks to increase the excitement and delight his audience on a limited budget. Dissatisfied with the inauthentic gunfights he’s filming for a Western called Gunsmog, inspired by an accident involving a high heel and a sheet of music, our budding filmmaker uses needles to pierce the celluloid, leaving each shot with a bright flash coincides . “Think like a real engineer!” says his computer genius father proudly.

Spielberg, meanwhile, had to innovate just as cleverly Jaw‘ notoriously difficult production. Saddled in open water with a malfunctioning animatronic shark, Spielberg realized he didn’t actually need to show the eponymous animal to indicate his presence. This is how the famous scene occurs in which yellow barrels are torn down one by one orca was conceived. As the director himself notes Spielbergnot putting the shark on screen makes the experience of watching Jaw all the more stressful.

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