The Fabelmans is a 2022 American coming-of-age theater film produced by Steven Spielberg, who co-wrote and co-produced it with Tony Kushner. The movie is a semi-autobiographical novel loosely founded on Spielberg’s juvenility and first years as a filmmaker told via an original account of the mythical Sammy Fabelman, a young aspiring filmmaker who examines how the power of movies can help him see the facts about his dysfunctional home and those about him. It stars Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy, alongside Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and Judd Hirsch in supporting roles. The film is devoted to the recollections of Spielberg’s real-life parents, Leah Adler and Arnold Spielberg, who died in 2017 and 2020, respectively.
Spielberg had created the project as early as 1999, with his sister Anne writing a script titled I’ll Be Home. He had reservations about researching his family’s story because of anxieties that his parents would be hurt and the project with him for 20 years. Spielberg reviewed the project with screenwriter and frequent collaborator Kushner in 2019 while driving West Side Story and completed the script by the end of 2020. Development on the film officially started soon after, with casting occurring between March and May 2021. Principal photography formed that July in Los Angeles and was covered in September.
The Fabelmans had its planet premiere Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2022, where it conquered the People’s Choice Award. It started a limited theatrical escape in the United States on November 11 and was raised on November 23 by Universal Pictures.
The movie obtained widespread critical acclaim for the cast’s performances, Spielberg’s direction, the screenplay, cinematography, and John Williams’ musical score. It was called one of the top ten movies of 2022 by the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute. Yet, the film was a box office bomb, grossing $17.1 million on a $40 million budget.
On the darkness of January 10, 1952, in Haddon Township, New Jersey, Jewish partners Mitzi, and Burt Fabelman bring their young son Sammy to visit his first film: Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth. Dazzled by the setting involving a train crash, Sammy asks for a standard set for Hanukkah, which he crashes late one night. Understanding Sammy’s intentions, Mitzi allows him to shoot another crash scene using Burt’s 8mm camera. Sammy regularly begins filming, occasionally applying his younger sisters Reggie, Natalie, and Lisa in his projections. After Burt accepts a new job, he and the family, along with his best friend and industry partner Bennie Loewy, move to Phoenix, Arizona, in early 1957.
Years later, a now-teenage Sammy continues producing films with his friends in a Boy Scout army. He starts utilizing post-production effects and subsequently earns a badge in photography. Later, the Fabelmans, including Bennie, bring a camping trip with Sammy catching footage of their vacation. Shortly afterward, Mitzi’s mother dies, leaving her incredibly distraught. Furnishing him with enough film editing equipment, Burt recommends that Sammy turn the camping trip footage into a film to cheer Mitzi up. Sammy opposes the scheduling of his next movie, but Burt, who sees Sammy’s passion for cinema as nobody more than a hobby, argues that the home movie is more important.
The following day, the Fabelmans receive a wonderful holiday from Mitzi’s uncle Boris, a former lion tamer and film worker. That night, he says to Sammy about compromising his family with his art, telling him that both aspects will resume being at odds with one another. After Boris leaves, Sammy begins revising the camping trip film, where he notices evidence of Mitzi and Bennie having feelings for each other, leaving him angry. After weeks of harsh medicine toward her and Bennie, Sammy and Mitzi have a heated argument, during which she slaps him across the back in a fit of rage, bruising him. Distraught, Sammy shows Mitzi the collected footage, though he vows to keep it a secret between them.
Burt receives a job promotion, requiring his family to move to Saratoga, California. To keep their marriage unchanged, Bennie stays in Phoenix only after gifting Sammy a new film camera, which he promises never to use. Soon after joining his new residents and school, Sammy evolves targeted by students Logan and Chad, who levy anti-Semitic abuse toward him. Sammy also starts dating the devoutly-Christian Monica.
While including spread with the Fabelmans, Monica offers that Sammy flicks their Ditch Day at the beach, something Sammy views and eventually gets to do after Monica tells him her father contains a 16mm Arriflex camera that lets him use.
After finally shifting from a rental to their recently purchased Home, Mitzi and Burt announce their divorce due to Sammy’s discovery of Mitzi’s affair, leaving the family heartbroken. Sammy declares his love for Monica at prom and asks her to come to Hollywood after high school. Unable to toss away her life’s plans to hear Texas A&M University, Monica breaks up with him. Meanwhile, the Ditch Day film plays in front of Sammy’s peers, who receive a rapturous response, praising Logan and vilifying Chad.