One of the finest movies I saw in 2022, THE FABELMANS is pretty much the childhood upbringing of it’s director, Steven Spielberg. This premiered at last falls Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Audience Award and it was very much deserved.
As a kid in New Jersey he saw THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH and fell in love with movies in first sight, in particular re-creating the famous train crash. This led to a very young Sam making movies with his sisters. As a teenager (played very well by Vancouver-native Gabriel LaBelle) he starts making more legit short movies even with family strife between his father (Paul Dani) and mother (Michelle Williams) and their family friend (played by Seth Rogen). Things get even worse for Sam when he is bullied at school and even when his new girlfriend (a terrific find in name here) comes into the picture. As the family changes cities as the father continues to get promoted into jobs making them move, this only pushes Sammy harder. This is a powerful family story made very telling as deep down we know that this really was Spielberg’s life and how he really had to work himself up as a kid in order to pursue his dream.
THE FABELMANS was sadly not a theatrical success, possibly due to the lack of star power or how the movie was marketed for its release. I’m also guessing that some movies about movie making, especially period pieces, can be a tough sell. That said, I do think time will be kind to this movie and there will be an audience who discovers it down the road. If for no other reason to see the final filmmaker scene which is so glorious that I dare not reveal what happens, but it is a scene I will keep coming back to.
About the 4k disc:
Universal has been really pumping out solid 4k disc releases as of late and like with the recent PUSS IN BOOTS disc which I just reviewed, Universal really is taking great care of the titles that they choose to release in 4k. Though not every title is doing so, I’m very happy that THE FABELMANS is one of them. The 4k disc brings out the absolute clarity in such a strong way that it really challenges most cinematic presentations. I saw this at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival in a 4k presentation that was world class, then I saw it in a regular cinema back where I lived and was nowhere near impressed with the picture quality.
Here, THE FABLEMANS is flawlessly transferred in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio from the original 35mm photography. Spielberg is famous for always shooting on film and will never photograph digitally, and here with his usual cinematographer Janusz Kaminski he has all of his traditional big framing, powerful lighting and film grain. A few select shots where home movies are shot, actual 8mm and 16mm camera stock were used and you can really tell the film look and feel in this pretty much perfect transfer.
The soundtrack is just at 7.1 as that matches the theatrical soundtrack of the movie, and it’s a perfectly fine soundtrack mix. The surrounds really hit hard in the opening theater sequence and is mostly quiet in other sequences. John Williams’ score is also a highlight here with a strong surround presence.
There is also an additional Blu Ray, and as per Universal standard now no digital copy included. The bonus features jump into a lot of the personal connections of Spielberg’s life into the picture:
- The Fabelmans: A Personal Journey (11 minutes)
- Family Dynamics (16 minutes)
- Crafting the World of The Fabelmans (22 minutes)
Overall this is a wonderful disc and even with the absent of the digital copy, this is an absolute recommend especially for 4k disc collectors. Let’s hope this movie finally finds the audience that it deserves.
THE FABELMANS is now available on 4k Blu Ray from Universal Pictures. Our thanks as always to Universal Home Video PR for sending along a copy for review.