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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (free)

  • Memorial Union Terrace 800 Langdon Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Spielberg’s feel-good masterpiece gets a fun outdoor screening. Info


The Terrace's summer Lakeside Cinema series is in full swing, making up a bit for the relative slowdown in quality local programming for cinephiles such as myself during the warmer months. Granted, the superhero blockbusters we are accustomed to don’t seem to be fading anytime soon, so anything that verges on being substantive must be consumed between the months of September and January, before awards season. This summer's Lakeside series is heavy on the blockbusters of yesteryear, including one of the better family-friendly films of the early 1980s, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982).

While E.T. was not the first film I saw on the big screen, it certainly was one of the most significant. In the short run, it inspired childhood fantasies about meeting Steven Spielberg, and in the long run it helped make me the film obsessive I am today. ( E.T.'s influence is also pretty easy to see in other corners of pop culture now, especially in the '80s nostalgia trips of Stranger Things.) This is arguably one of Spielberg’s better movies, and both adults and children can still appreciate it on so many levels. The range of emotion and the beauty of the narrative has stood the test of time. I’ve always appreciated Henry Thomas’ portrayal of Elliott—a natural performance that doesn't rely on precocious dialogue or the kinds of gimmicky plot devices that often revolve around children characters in movies. If a friendship can develop between a little boy and a tiny alien that moves me to tears even some 30-odd years later, then E.T. truly deserves its place in the pantheon of feel-good stories. —Edwanike Harbour

Earlier Event: June 22
The Anthropocene Reading
Later Event: June 27
High Life (free)