TIME TRIP

Can it be 35 years since E.T. came to us, and stole our hearts?

I had to go to the library today, which meant I went downtown, which meant I walked on a busy street, which meant I saw the fence around the construction site, which meant that I saw the spray-painted image of E.T. He/she was gently smiling, and I found myself smiling as well. It really tickled me, and I have been smiling ever since. Can it really be 35 years since we met E.T.? The person who spray-painted him/her on the fence downtown couldn’t have been born when we first met E.T.

In June, 1982, a Universal Studios picture about some little kids and a little alien brought some much-needed escape to our day-in-and-day-out lives. The director was Steven Spielberg; the writer was Melissa Mathison. The actors were Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, and many more.

Elliott met E.T., a sweet extra-terrestrial being. He brought him/her home; the children of the family (Elliott, Gertie, Michael) keep E.T. a secret. E.T. is always saying “E.T. home phone.” Elliott inverted it to: “E.T. phone home.” Eventually, the government got involved — wouldn’t you just know? No spoiler here, but the kids kidnapped E.T.’s body from a government truck. They gathered a bunch of kids to meet them at the hilltop playground. A rescue spaceship was on the way. What happened next brought lots of tears — it still does. But we also always know that E.T. will be in Elliott’s head and heart, and in ours — forever.

It’s not really a happy ending — bittersweet in a way. But Universal Studios had a happy ending. The budget was about $10 1/2 million. The movie made nearly $12 million on the opening weekend, and grossed $435 million, in America alone.