JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – At 76, Steven Spielberg is the most popular, most influential filmmaker, and the highest-grossing in the world.
No one else is even close.
Over the course of 51 films, his movies have earned $15.9 billion at the box office worldwide.
But he’s never made a movie about himself.
The Fabelmans – which was just nominated for no less than seven Academy Awards – is a very thinly veiled autobiography.
All the names have been changed (to protect the innocent?), but make no mistake: this is very precisely the story of Spielberg’s own life.
Along the way, it’s filled with plot twists and turns – showing Spielberg’s journey from childhood through high school graduation – that most of us never knew.
It’s the story of a Jewish boy growing up in a largely Gentile America and battling anti-Semitism.
And falling in love with storytelling.
And falling in love with moviemaking.
And falling in love with a cute blonde along the way.
It’s also the story of a young man wrestling with the divorce of his parents.
The betrayal of a family friend.
And – wait for it – trying to process the fact that the girl he likes so much is a devout Christian and seriously trying to persuade him to follow Jesus.
That was a scene I never saw coming, and was yet another reason I loved this film, as I describe in this video review.
I should also note that The Fabelmans is the first film that Spielberg made that was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Original Screenplay.
“I just recently turned 76, where they say, ‘What’s left to accomplish?’” Spielberg recently said. “I suddenly get nominated for the first time in my career by the Academy as a co-author of Best screenplay — it made me feel like all those English and creative writing classes paid off!”
His dear friend and brilliant writer, Tony Kushner, took the lead in drafting the script.
But the core of the story is all Spielberg.
“I had to be ready to tell the story and I wasn’t for a long time and for a lot of reasons, I guarded my privacy jealously,” the director explained, though he has certainly found a way to put his personal mark on many of his other films, as he put it, “through the smokescreen of science fiction, adventure or historical fiction.”
ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS
Best Picture – producers Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner and Kristie Macosko Krieger
Best Director – Steven Spielberg
Best Original Screenplay – Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner
Best Actress – Michelle Williams, who plays Spielberg’s mother “Mitzi”
Best Supporting Actor – Judd Hirsch, who plays Spielberg’s uncle
Best Original Score – John Williams
Best Production Design – Rick Carter, production designer; and Karen O’Hara, set designer
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.