My lifetime love of movies began exactly 30 years ago in June of 1982 when I saw Steven Speilberg’s glorious family adventure “E.T: The Extra Terrestrial.” I may have only been six years old at the time but I remember every movie loving detail of that first movie going experience; an experience that invested me with a forever love for movie theaters.
At six years old you’ve grown relatively aware of the world beyond your parents. Being a child of the 80’s television was not the luxury that it was to my parents but merely an every day appliance not unlike a toaster. Television was part of a daily routine and I don’t remember a time in my life without it.
It was through television that I first became aware of the movies. Plopped in front of the TV to watch cartoons and Cubs games I recall many commercials for movies playing in some vague notion of a place called a theater; all that I knew of the theater at that time was that it was ‘near you’ as every movie on TV was ‘coming to a theatre near you.’
The theater near me at that time was Showcase Cinemas in Milan a sprawling multiplex that looked the size of a planet to my six year old self. My brother Chuck and his then girlfriend took me and some vaguely unrelated child to see “E.T” that day and they did everything they could to make my first movie memorable.
The thing I remember most about that day was the size of the theater. The walk to the theater was endless as the parking was the size of a football field and it being a Saturday afternoon, it was packed with cars. “E.T” was already a wildly popular phenomenon at the time and we were lucky to get tickets, less lucky according to my brother, to have to sit in the front row of theater.
I didn’t mind the front row, being six years old the strain on my neck was far less interesting than the massive images that overwhelmed my senses. I was seated next to Marie, my brother’s girlfriend and I can recall holding her hand and tucking my face behind her shoulder more than once as “E.T” faced danger.
I remember clearly my favorite scene, the flying bikes, and my wide eyed wonder at seeing kids not much older than me flying on bikes that looked a little bit my own bike, minus the training wheels. Looking back now I know that was the moment I fell in love with movies; forever fascinated by their magic and their ability to transport my imagination.
Wistful as that sounds I went on to be quite a jaded childhood movie lover. According to many parental accounts I was as difficult to keep in my seat during a bad movie like “Howard the Duck” as I was glued to my seat during a great movie like the re-release of “Fantasia” or my other childhood all-time favorite “Short Circuit.”
This month marks 30 years since “E.T: The Extra Terrestrial” premiered in the Quad Cities. If you have the chance to rent it or buy it you should and let it make you feel like a kid again.