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Seeing E.T. For The First Time

By: Lazlo

I remember when my parents took me to see E.T., the '80s sci-fi classic from Steven Spielberg.

The movie came out in June 1982, so this must have been mid to late late '82. I was a somewhat nerdy, awkward 12 years old loner, often in living in my own odd dreamy world. The fact that I was also an only child added to my solitary nature, I suppose. But I was quite close to my parents, although sometimes I even felt misunderstood by them as well, and this would occasionally lead to conflict in my teen years. But this memory was one of being close to them, and I treasure it now as I sit here writing about it.
We went to see the film at a small, one theater cinema in the downtown of our small home town. It was an old theater that had been there seemingly forever, and was still there in the '80s. It was in the very midst of the fan mania that developed over the film, and there was a long line that stretched around the entire front of the small theater and around the side to the parking lot out back.

We took our place in line, and when we got inside the theater was packed to capacity, with every seat filled. At that age, I was not yet used to going to see movies at the theater, so the whole thing was quite new to me. I remember we got some popcorn and Coke, and took our seats in the crowded theater. I also remember that in the midst of the movie, someone spilled a drink a row behind us. But I remember the experience fondly.

I remember the pleasure I got in seeing this beautiful film. There was a tangible warmth about it, there were so many different details that seemed to shine through about the film. I remember the funny scene where E.T. inspires the young protagonist, Eliot, to come to the rescue of the frogs which were to be used during his school's science class, and he proceeds to cause havoc by freeing all of them in the midst of class. I also remember that my mother cried when E.T. briefly appeared to die, and I remember the joy that came when he miraculously revived and was alive.

The movie was an enormously popular in the early '80s, and a big part of the pop culture of that era. It felt like I was part of some wonderful phenomenon that all of America was participating in, and maybe beyond our borders to the world. I somehow felt like I identified with the young protagonist Eliot, played by actor Henry Thomas. But then, didn't we all identify with young Eliot at that young age, befriending this wondrous being from another world.

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DirtyD79 Posted on Sep 21, 2017 at 07:28 AM

E.T. is the first movie I remember seeing in theaters when I was a kid. Me and my brother went with our grandma to this small single screen theater a few blocks away from our house to see it. I also remember there was a parade outside when we got out. I'm guessing the parade was for Fourth of July or something. We also had the E.T. Atari 2600 game. Surprisngly I actually liked it but then I was a little kid at the time.

Superman Posted on Jul 24, 2017 at 04:28 PM

I love this movie. My first time watching it was while I was in kindergarten, long past the time when the movie was actually in theaters. It was airing on TV, and I watched it with my mom.

OldSchool80s Posted on Jun 22, 2017 at 12:54 PM

I had a similar experience and similar memories of seeing E.T. for the first time. It left quite an impression on me, too. It will always hold a special place for me and still holds up for me in a lot of ways, too. It is one of the iconic films of the decade and of my lifetime in my opinion.

Hoju Koolander Posted on Jun 22, 2017 at 04:53 AM

The emotional roller coaster of your viewing experience was a joy to read. I was much more attached to the E.T. ride at Universal Studios than the movie, but it's pop culture influence is undeniable. As I admitted in this E.T. sequel episode of my podcast, Mac and Me was my personal E.T. growing up, https://sequelquestpod.com/2016/10/21/ep28-et-sequel/

Lazlo Posted on Jun 21, 2017 at 01:16 PM

I also remember going to see "Back To The Future" for the first time. It was a crowded mall cinema, and I was chomping on Jujubees and drinking Cherry Coke. Both are still theater food faves for me.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jun 21, 2017 at 09:26 AM

I would have been 8 at the time E.T. came out, but I don't recall going to see the film, nor do I recall the first time I actually did get to watch it. I wish I did though. My first memory of a movie theater was either Ghostbusters or Gremlins.

E.T. was indeed a big pop culture influence. I recall owning an E.T. plush with a special "skin" that was more lifelike than the standard vinyl exterior of some plush toys without fur. And yes, I even owned the infamous E.T. Atari game, though I don't recall feeling it was the worst game ever made at the time.

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