The Fabelmans: Spielberg’s Semi-Autobiographical Drama


Luke Matthys

The Fabelmans is director Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiography that is based on his childhood and adolescence. The film revolves around the fictional Sammy Fabelman, who represents Steven Spielberg. Sammy (played by Mateo Zoryan as a child and played by Gabriel LaBelle as a teenager) receives a video camera from his mother, Mitzi (played by Michelle Williams), when he is a child in the early 1950s. Sammy has to move from New Jersey to Arizona due to his father. Sammy’s mother is very supportive of his artistic capabilities, while his father, Burt (played by Paul Dano), does not think that his son will end up with a job as a director. As a teenager, Sammy becomes much more serious about directing, creating short films with his boy scout troop regularly. It is obvious to the audience that Sammy has a lot of talent directing even at a young age and no professional experience.

When Sammy moves from Arizona to California, the movie shifts from Sammy’s talents of directing to more of his relationships with different people. The relationship between Sammy and his mother is greatly strained, as he finds out that his mother is in love with his dad’s best friend, Bennie Loewy (played by Seth Rogan). Sammy’s classmates at the school he attends welcome him with antisemetic remarks and violence. Because of this, Sammy’s relationship with his dad is strained due to the family moving to California because of the father’s job at IBM. Despite being hated by most of the school, Sammy volunteers to make a movie of Senior Skip Day, where the Senior class goes to the beach. The film is shown at prom, and it is widely loved by the student body. After high school, Sammy is employed by CBS, starting his professional career.

I would recommend The Fabelmans to anyone who considers themself fan of movies. The development of Sammy as he gradually becomes a better director is interesting to watch because it shows the steps Steven Spielberg took to become successful. The movie does not get boring, as the three-act structure of the movie works in its favor. The movie is not perfect, as there are moments of corniness that stick out against the rest. Despite this flaw, the story of Spielberg is not one to be missed, and it is showing in theaters!