I had one of the toughest weeks of my life last week and haven't been very motivated to do much of anything. Any of you who have spent time with me know that my dog Lou is something like a third child in the Musa household. On Monday, while I was in Cleveland finishing out an otherwise great tour, I got a call notifying me that he suddenly started dragging his back legs. The verdict is that he is suddenly paralyzed and for a while there it looked as though we were gonna have to put him down. I've been a mess. I haven't slept and have been as low as I can ever remember. Glimmers of hope that we can keep him happy and readjust have changed the overall outlook and we are much happier today.
E.T. reminded us of Lou, specifically the scene where Elliot's mom looks in his closet where the space friend blends perfectly with the stuffed animals. We have recreated that scene many times with Lou, who was able to sit remarkably still.
I realized John Williams deserves a lot of credit for the emotional impact here, but I think Spielberg's understanding of childhood loneliness and confusion resonates. E.T. represents that non-human companionship that heals so many wounds so inexplicably.
I remember when my family uprooted and relocated to Vermont. I lost my friends, my home, my relationship with my father, and went from sharing a room with my older brother to having my own room (which most kids would prefer but I hated). The only consolation I had in those rough few first days at a new school were times I spent with our three Rottweilers: Fancy, Kinny, and Ruby. I would talk to them and cry while laying my head on their stomachs.
E.T. gives Elliott a sense of purpose, a reason to rebel. Through their relationship, he strengthens the boy's love for those around him and that love just seems to spread. It's a wide-eyed movie from an artist often considered a patsy (though recent output ought to nip that right in the bud). I should note that a recent viewing has confirmed my suspicion that this movie survives the miasma of nostalgia. I also should note that this movie scared me when I first saw it in 1988 at my grandmother's house. Give the opening credits another watch/listen. The music implies something far different lies ahead.