Any time you can see one of Spielberg’s classic films on the big screen, you should take the opportunity to do so. As repeatable as most of his films are, a theatrical presentation enhances the experience by making the action more urgent in the size of the screen, the volume of the sound system and the response from your fellow movie goers. Raiders is 41 years old, but for a Saturday matinee, with a cost of $14, the theater was nearly full. This screen was part of the Summer Classic Film Series at the Paramount Theater in Austin Texas.
The presentation was a digital projection, so it may have lacked some of the warmth and texture of a 35mm screening, but the images were great and the movie just plays like gangbusters. The opening ten minutes is still a standard by which many action based films today fail to live up to. Indiana Jones is defined as a character by his look, his actions and the way the movie is shot. Harrison Ford does not have a lot of dialogue in the opening sequence, but when he does speak, we get a sense of the adventurous archeologist and his strengths and weaknesses.
Not only did I get a chance to see one of the Spielberg masterpieces on the big screen, I got a second one on the same day. This year is the 40th anniversary of “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” and in celebration, Universal is releasing it on IMAX screens around the country. We had just seen “E.T.” at the TCM Film Festival back in April, and Spielberg was there to discuss it. Why would we need to go again? Because it’s fricking great, that’s why.
The thrilling flying bicycle scenes don’t hold up as well as you might hope, but everything else does. Once again, John Williams accounts for half the success of the movie because his score for this is so touching and appropriate that the emotions on the screen can be felt over and over again, just by hearing the score.
If the first ten minutes of Raiders defines action, the last ten minutes of E.T. defines heart. The closing moments of the film never fail to bring me the tears that I remember shedding the first time I saw this film forty years ago. Henry Thomas continues to work as an actor, after giving one of the great child performances of all time. If he had never made another film, he should be enshrined in Valhalla for this alone.
All of you out there stewing in jealousy over this great day that I got to indulge in, you can still catch “E.T.” on an IMAX screen somewhere. Why are you still here?