Spielberg opens his life and toolbox

Mexico City /

Start the year of awards for films that stand out as **pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro and **The Fabelmans (The Fabelmans) by Steven Spielberg gives a huge pleasure. Not only because they are masterpieces but because they are films that are nourished by the biography and passion for cinema of the filmmakers. if in **pinocchio Del Toro shares with us his imaginary world and his admiration for animated cinema that is capable of creating a universe populated by living beings, Spielberg takes us by the hand through his personal and family history linked to his need to watch and create movies. From the film The **Fabelmans, free interpretation of the surname Spielberg, which, in German, means game mountain, much will be said and written about the director’s environment and family problems. What, however, also stands out about the film is not its biopic character but the way in which Spielberg relates his personal, family and social experiences with the act of watching and creating cinema.

Let’s start with the first sequence: In the company of his parents, Sammy boy, **alter ego by Steven Spielberg, goes to the cinema to see his first film. It is the year 1952 and his parents have promised him to see clowns and elephants. However, what impacts and catches the child’s attention when seeing **The greatest show in the world by Cecil B. DeMille is the crash and derailment of a train against a small car. At home, the child recreates the scene with a model railway and records the scene with a homemade camera. From then on the chase scenes and crashes would be part of Spielberg’s plots and action scenes from **Duel (1971) and the films about **Indiana Jones (as of 1984).

The allusions to films that impacted him and served as a model and learning continue with **The Man Who Killed Liberty Valance by John Ford (1962). We watch young Sammy direct the first Westerns with the help of his friends who act as cowboys and his father who, behind the camera, produces the wind and sandstorm that the film needs. In the sequences in which Sammy learns to create narration in a self-taught way, Spielberg’s admiration for celluloid cinema stands out: As a child and adolescent Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle) works with 8 and 16 mm tapes, discovers the narrative capacity of assembly, cut, scratch and paste – yes, with glue – the ribbons and perforate them to cause visual effects. He teaches us that filmmaking was manual work with physical materials that needed tools to produce movement, narration, and meaning.

Spielberg also uses family and school sequences to show the ability of cinema to reveal secrets to the viewer that the human eye does not capture. That cinema can exalt or diminish characters, denounce abuses or build metaphors and allegories. Scenes of the creative, sensitive and unhappy mother (Michelle Williams) playing the piano or doing dance moves, illuminated by car headlights, reveal tensions and conflicts, while a dark house amid mansions lit with Christmas lights, indicates that it is a Jewish home. But the cinema can also be a weapon used to defend oneself or take revenge. Thus, in a key sequence that highlights the anti-Semitism of a group of high school boys.

Spielberg closes the film with a wonderful tribute to a filmmaker he admires: The elderly John Ford, played by David Lynch, greets the young Sammy with an unforgettable art lesson. Happy to be accepted into the audiovisual industry, the young filmmaker’s apprentice walks away from the camera through the corridors of a Hollywood studio like Chaplin did at the end of his films.

annemarie Meier

Spielberg opens his life and toolbox