Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans – Movie Review by Efe Teksoy


Cinema Writer/Film Critic Efe TEKSOY; wrote the drama film “THE FABELMANS” for America’s Los Angeles based Internet Newspaper @alaturkanews.


Oscar winner Steven Spielberg‘s semi-autobiographical dramatic film The Fabelmans, carries traces of the master director’s childhood and opens the sad doors to an emotional journey. The film, produced by Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Amblin Partners, and Reliance Entertainment, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. It is Spielberg’s first screenplay work after A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and his first collaboration with longtime collaborator John Williams since The Post (2017). Steven Spielberg decided to replicate his childhood events exactly as the scenes in the movie, and worked with Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski to make sure they were portrayed as accurately as possible in camera angles. During filming, the actors accessed local films, photographs and memorabilia from Spielberg’s family’s past, and learned what they looked like and how to bring their edited versions to life on screen and make them feel alive. The character of Samuel Fabelman is a fictionalized Steven Spielberg. It was named after Spielberg’s grandfather, who had the original Hebrew form of his name, Shmuel Spielberg. Touching primarily on revealing themes about Spielberg’s life and who he is as a filmmaker, The Fabelmans chronicles the director’s life from the age of seven to eighteen, and brings to light the unknowns of his family and parents.


On the other hand, through Sammy Fabelman, who was bullied at school and discriminated against among his friends, we see that the anti-Semitic, that is, racial discrimination issue, in the subtext of the film is mentioned. Parental problem and generation gap issues are the cornerstones of Spielberg cinema. The impasse and re-establishment of paternal authority is handled in all Steven Spielberg films. While watching The Fabelmans, we see that the basis of these sociological formations, which have an important place in his films, was laid in the past and left deep traces. German-American psychoanalyst Karen Horney, who is the representative of “ego psychology”, a neo-Freudian school, and one of the founders of the American Psychoanalysis Institute, in her book The Neurotic Personality of Our Time, she defines the neurotic individual as the “stepchild” of  modern culture and reveals that the anxiety underlying neuroses is based on sociological relations and arises from conflicts that dominate the inner world of human. In Horney’s book; “The fact that the majority of individuals in a general culture face similar problems suggests that these problems are created by certain living conditions existing in that culture. The fact that motivating forces and conflicts in another culture are different from ours seems to support that they represent common problems of ‘human nature’.” she states that these basic similarities are actually caused by the difficulties in our period and culture, and conveys that the difficulties in our culture are due to spiritual conflicts. Another important detail is the white light beam, which is indispensable for Spielberg cinematography. In a retrospective reading, this backlighting, which is used to create a naturalistic effect in most scenes, is considered a signature of Spielberg’s visual style and is known as the “Light of God”. Thus, it turns out that this image has a symbolic meaning in Spielberg’s cinematic universe. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, the founder of analytical psychology and one of the three great founders of depth psychology, in his important work, Man and His Symbols, in which he explores the relationship between symbols and the unconscious, states, makes a psychoanalytic interpretation of symbols that have been the great guide of consciousness throughout history. In Jung’s book ‘Symbolism in the Visual Arts’ chapter; “The ability to form symbols unconsciously transforms objects and forms (attributing great importance to them) into symbols; it gives expression to them both in their religion and in their visual arts.” saying, describing the sembolic depiction of intertwined symbols going back to prehistoric times. Thus, the relation and symbolic meaning of the background light in Spielberg’s cinematography with the unconscious becomes clear with Jung’s interpretation.


Another important detail in Spielberg’s cinema is that white has a visually important place in the color palette. One of the founders of European semiotics (semiosis) and XX. century French philosopher Roland Barthes, a master of thought and writing, influenced the development of schools of theory, including structuralism, semiotics, social theory, design theory, anthropology, and post-structuralism. He introduced the basic principles and concepts of semiology and led to the development of text theory by providing the development of the boundaries of semiotics, which was founded by the Swiss philosopher Ferdinand de Saussure, who is known as the “father” of linguistics in the twentieth century, and the American pragmatist philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce. The great French essayist and critic Barthes states in his work The Semiotic Challenge that the color white conveys a certain idea of ​​luxury and femininity. When the color white stands out among other colors in the visual atmosphere in The Fabelmans, when analyzed semiologically, its meaning in the story emerges in this way and the sembolic feature of the color becomes clear.


Growing up in a humble family in Arizona after World War II, young Sammy Fabelman, It is about his desire to be a filmmaker when he reaches adolescence and his struggle to overcome the tides in the family with the magic of cinema.

Stars; Michelle Williams, Gabriel LaBelle, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, Mateo Zoryan, Keeley Karsten, Alina Brace, Robin Bartlett, Sam Rechner, Oakes Fegley, Chloe East, Isabelle Kusman, Chandler Lovelle and David Lynch.


Steven Spielberg‘s real-life mother, Leah, married Bernie Adler, the person on whom Seth Rogen‘s character is based. Died as Leah Adler.

 –David Lynch asked to be given the John Ford costume a week before shooting the scene.

-To prepare for the role of Burt Fabelman (representing Arnold Spielberg), actor Paul Dano commissioned a radio set and worked on it to create the feel of real-life Arnold Spielberg working with electronics.

-Actor Seth Rogen told reporters that Steven Spielberg often got emotional on set during production.

 – The 8mm and 16mm camera equipment used in the movie had real film in them, and actor Gabriel LaBelle was taught how to use the cameras.

 – The jewelry that actress Michelle Williams wore as part of Mitzi Fabelman costumes belonged to Steven Spielberg‘s mother, Leah Adler.

-The final shot of Sam Fabelman starts with the horizon being in the middle of the frame, then the camera moves to a low-angle shot with the horizon at the bottom of the frame (as per John Ford‘s advice) to make it look more interesting.


Filmed in Arizona, Los AngelesCalifornia and Malibu Beach, The Fabelmans, takes the spectator on a dramatic journey into an emotional Spielberg universe.




Karen Horney, Çağımızın Nevrotik Kişiliği (The Neurotic Personality of Our Time), translate. Başak Kıcır, İstanbul: Sel Yayıncılık press, 2021

Carl Gustav Jung, İnsan ve Sembolleri (Man and His Symbols), translate. Hatice Mukaddes İlgün, İstanbul: Kabalcı Yayıncılık press, 2015

Roland Barthes, Göstergebilimsel Serüven (The Semiotic Challenge), translate. Mehmet Rifat-Sema Rifat, İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları press, 2018


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