On Wednesday, I saw E.T. in Concert with the Seattle Symphony.
My memory of seeing E.T. in the theater when I was 6 years old is vivid. My sister and my cousin took me. We sat closer than we normally would because the theater was full. It was crowded and hot and I didn't take my eyes off the screen for the duration.
I developed an instant crush on Elliot (Henry Thomas) and even though we're the same age, found Gertie (Drew Barrymore) to be adorable. I was scared of E.T. at first, but once they showed how gentle he was, and the scenes with the beer drinking and costumes surfaced, I was completely on-board with this new alien friend.
My other remembrance is how hard I sobbed when Elliott and E.T. suffered in the makeshift treatment facility that the government sets up in Elliott's house. Scarred me for life.
That said, the iconic bike scene and the legendary score by John Williams never left me, and I went on to consume many Reese's Pieces and buy E.T.-related memorabilia in the years that followed (I still have a pair of socks and earrings).
I was delighted when I saw this would return to the theater and be accompanied live by the Seattle Symphony last winter and quickly bought tickets. Unfortunately, our snow storm postponed the performance and we just now got to see it. I can safely say it was worth the wait.
The sweet tale of a family struggling with parental separation in the 1980s focuses on the bond between Elliott (the boy who finds the alien) and E.T. the Extraterrestrial. Instead of siblings that are always at each other's throats, the brothers and sister in this family look out for each other (and successfully hide E.T. for a period of time).
Drew Barrymore is the standout as young Gertie—an exceptional actress even then, she's alternately funny, vulnerable and sad.
I enjoyed seeing this Spielberg classic on the screen again and feel privileged I got to hear the amazing live music that accompanied it.
The narrative is simple: find alien, hide alien, attempt to reunite alien with his family before the government captures him to experiment on him, but the story is told with such heart that it's remained in our consciousness for over 40 years. It should—and most likely will—hold that legacy forever.