comrade_yui’s review published on Letterboxd:
spielberg has given us so much already; it's hard to imagine the artistic landscape for over the past 50 years without him. he's given us awe, thrills, excitement, tears, love, hardship; now he gives us his life. argue about whether he's your favorite, the best, interesting or not, but we can all agree that steven is the most important american filmmaker since john ford and orson welles. everything is defined in relation to him, his style, his obsessions, his experiences, all of it, he's a man apart. in some ways, we've already been shown his childhood story so many times, refracted through stories about divorced kids on a dinosaur island, friendships with aliens, adventures in jewish and christian mythology, pulp nostalgia, the american and global public know every emotional beat that goes into the fabelmans, but it's never been told this way, with this level of maturity, this amount of poise, humor, and dignity.
spielberg never made the daring personal dramas that his new hollywood contemporaries so often did, he made the big entertainments first and foremost, he saw what we wanted to see before we ever knew it, and he gifted us with killer sharks, suave archeologists, traumatized time cops, and radical kindness during the darkest eras of genocide and slavery. he weaved himself into all these tales, made us dream alongside him in so many ways, held our hands for decades as a steady genius ready to reveal the next grand spectacle that would blow our minds and warm our hearts. he wasn't perfect, but he tried to give the public what he thought films could be, works of art that always had emotional value. we've had him around for over half a century, the filmmaking landscape looks bleaker than ever, and now's the time that he finally tells his own story in the way that he couldn't in the 70s.
the achievement of the fabelmans is that spielberg has enough distance from his early years that he can tell the story with an eye for truth, showing the complex pain that every family deals with, but also the equally-complicated truths that can be grasped from such a telling. spielberg, like sammy, is neither a pure artist or a pure technician, but a hybrid of both his parents, his father's hard work ethic and his mother's emotional sensitivity. he's the archetypal boomer success, the post-war wonderboy who was able to take advantage of a specific time in american global hegemony to become the legend that he is today, and i think spielberg is more than aware of this. but he's also a human being, and he gives a loving portrait of his parents without putting a varnish on their personal flaws and failings. the fabelmans holds that artistic merit comes from both a fidelity to immanent experience, but a transcendence of the mere 'facts' of life, and by framing his youth as the culmination of all that he's learned, spielberg helps us understand not only him, but what we can learn from his own filmography, just like how his father gave him an insight into technique and his mother gave him a passion for art. by relating to these two essential halves of filmmaking, we can find our own place in the cinema; spielberg generously shows how we can take our lives and turn them into art, just like he did.
i can't think of something more beautiful. whatever your journey is, whatever dreams you have, the most noble thing you can do is to speak your own truth in the way that only you can. as someone who was raised, like many people, watching jurassic park and indiana jones over and over again, constantly fixated on how these moving pictures could make me feel so many emotions and thoughts that i never could before, it feels like spielberg's been my DNA since i was born, an artistic grandfather who showed what movies were capable of. for me, the fabelmans is such a blessing to have, and i'm thankful that spielberg will always be a shining beacon, showing the way for the rest of us to become who we're meant to be.
thank you so much steven. we're lucky to have you. <3