The first trailer for Stephen Spielberg’s newest film, The Fabelmans, depicts the legendary director’s early years in a semi-fictionalized manner. On Saturday at TIFF, he will debut his newest directorial effort, a biopic of sorts about his life as seen through the eyes of a young guy named Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle). When it debuts throughout the world on November 23, it will have set the stage for a moving examination of the director’s rise to prominence. The preview follows Sammy throughout his formative years, showcasing the experiences that led him to fall in love with the beauty of filmmaking, as well as those that encouraged and discouraged him.
Sammy’s interest in movies is shown to have been inspired by his mother (Michelle Williams), whose creative nature stands in stark contrast to that of her more pragmatic spouse (Paul Dano). Spielberg’s impressively twisting career is the stuff of cinematic legend. With iconic box office hits like “Jaws,” “E.T.,” and “Star Wars,” he has cemented his place as one of the most respected and revered directors in history. franchises like E.T., Jurassic Park, and Indiana Jones are staying strong decades after their initial releases. Throw in directing masterworks like Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan, and you have the picture of a versatile artist who can turn any tale into a masterpiece.
Moreover, he has remained relevant years after the release of his most seminal pictures, having directed his first musical, West Side Story, which won an Academy Award. The Fabelmans is an attempt to document the early stages of that development, illuminating the thoughts and feelings that laid the groundwork for his growth as a filmmaker. Spielberg assembled a famous cast for his biopic of the iconic filmmaker, including LaBelle, Julia Butters, Oakes Fegley, and Seth Rogen, all of whom were relative unknowns prior to their roles in the film. In addition to Robin Bartlett and Keeley Karsten, the cast also includes Judd Hirsch, Gabriel Bateman, and Jeannie Berlin.
It’s also the first time Spielberg has worked with another famous director of his generation, David Lynch, who is also attached to the project. The Fabelmans appears to be a “greatest hits” compilation of Spielberg’s career, including aspects of several of his best films. He reunited with John Williams, a great composer who has worked with Spielberg for decades and will complete his career working with the filmmaker. As he did with West Side Story, the filmmaker brought back a longtime collaborator, Tony Kushner, to help with the writing. The choice to hire LaBelle at such a young age is reminiscent of Spielberg’s propensity to use up-and-coming actors like Drew Barrymore, Christian Bale, and Haley Joel Osment.
Beginning on November 11, The Fabelmans will have a limited theatrical release before expanding to theatres throughout the world on November 23. The AFI Festival in Los Angeles will wrap off on November 6 with a screening of Spielberg’s newest picture.