‘Thank you, maestro’ – Spielberg says John Williams wrote ‘The Fabelmans’ music as a gift to the director’s parents
11 November 2022, 07:00 | Updated: 11 November 2022, 16:04
50 years since meeting on a blind lunch date, Steven Spielberg and John Williams have joined together for the ‘most personal film’ the director has ever made.
Since their first project together in 1974, Steven Spielberg and John Williams have enchanted audiences with some of cinema’s most enthralling stories and stirring soundtracks. Now, 50 years since they first met, the duo have collaborated once again on what Spielberg describes as his “most personal film” to date.
Speaking about the soundtrack for The Fabelmans, Spielberg said the film marks 50 years of Williams “reshaping my stories through his music”.
The Fabelmans follows Sammy Fabelman, aged seven at the film’s beginning, as he grows up in Arizona in the years following the Second World War. As Sammy reaches adolescence, he becomes enchanted by the silver screen and aspires to become a filmmaker.
The film itself is dedicated to the memories of Spielberg’s parents, Arnold Spielberg and Leah Adler. “John knew my parents well”, Spielberg said, “and loved introducing them to the orchestra during our scoring sessions, which made my Dad so proud, and left my Mom beaming.
“He wrote this score as a gift to them and, when he first previewed it for me on his Steinway, I knew he had made this his most personal gift to me as well.
“Thank you, Maestro,” Spielberg added.
The film is described as “A deeply personal portrait of a 20th century American childhood… a cinematic memory of the forces and family that shaped the filmmaker’s life and career.”
Sammy is fictional, but his story holds gems of truth loosely based on Spielberg’s own childhood and his first steps into the movie industry.
The director told the New York Times that the idea came to him on long drives during the pandemic, which helped him to realise there was a story he was yet to tell, and “I’d be really mad at myself if I don’t”.
Spielberg delved to great depths to produce such a touching re-telling of his own experiences – a commitment that was clear to John Williams, too.
Speaking to press, Williams said composing music for The Fabelmans was “a particular joy for me, given the personal nature of the film and its depiction of characters who seem to be so closely associated with Steven Spielberg’s own childhood and family”.
“Over many years, I knew and greatly admired Steven’s parents, and I was always impressed by his mother Leah’s musical talent,” Williams added.
“This is a truly special film, so lovingly directed by Steven and featuring a touching and very personal screenplay by Steven and the always-brilliant Tony Kushner.
“I’m honoured to have played a small part in the making of [it]”.
The film stars Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy Fabelman, Michelle Williams as his mother, Mitzi Fabelman, and Paul Dano as his father, Burt Fabelman.
The soundtrack, which was released on 11 November 2022, also includes classical music gems by Friedrich Kuhlau, Muzio Clementi, Bach and Haydn. The Fabelmans will be released in the UK on 27 January 2023.