Friday, July 06, 2012

Classic Film: E.T.

I could write a book about what the movie E.T. means to my life, and how impressive and amazing I think it is. I actually have written a lengthy research paper on it, so I know this film backwards and forwards.

I hate being asked what my favorite movie is, because it seems silly for me to even compare some movies together. I love different movies for different reasons, they bring out different emotions and for different moods. But if I have to pick one, it's always E.T. because that was the movie that taught me how much I could love movies. I made my mom take me to the theater to see it a dozen times when I was little.

So I have a lot of memories of this movie, and they're built around how I saw the film as much as the movie itself.

As a two-year-old, I was sitting in my hometown in the Pulaski Theater staring up at the screen entranced. It was so much bigger than me, and I was engulfed by the movie and by the magic. As a college senior, I was sitting in a theater with my mom, sharing a huge bag of Reese's Pieces and celebrating together. I was graduating in a few short weeks with a film degree, I had just finished a feature length documentary and a short comedy. I was having this crisis like a lot of seniors probably do, wondering what I was doing, where I was going. So sitting in that theater reminded me of who I was and what I wanted.

So then last weekend, we find me in my thirties, with a second film degree under my belt. I'm working on post-production in the largest film project I've ever made. And there I was, sitting at the amazing AFI Silver in Maryland. Like I said, I've seen this movie a lot of times. Too many to count, I've pulled apart the cinematography and I've studied the color scheme. But this was the first time since I was two that I was in a theater full of children who were probably seeing the film for the first time.

What a revelation it was, it was so wonderful to hear them laughing and enjoying the movie. I saw suddenly why the movie got a ten minute standing ovation at it's premiere at Cannes. As I've gotten older I've had a lot of people do the "ugh, that movie is so schmaltzy and cheesy, it's really not that good of a movie."

The people who say that have forgotten what the movie is about, which is being a child. The movie wasn't made for adults, at least not the ones who can't remember being kids. It's designed down to it's most basic elements to be a movie about and for children. I worried a bit that it was a movie that would be a little dated, but the kids in the theater didn't care. It's actually brilliantly directed, but I can see how it would take a close study to really get how impressive it can be.

All in all, it was a brilliant experience, and I'm so glad I had it. I think that E.T. is a movie that people need to show their kids, because it's a smart, well crafted film and there aren't too many of those available for that age group these days.