Movie Magic

When you hear the phrase ‘Movie Magic’ you probably think of the special effects wizardry brought to you by Industrial Light and Magic or other production studios.  You probably think about the science of cinematography and how Hollywood can make you see and believe in things that don’t actually exist.  And it’s true that movies just wouldn’t be movies if we didn’t have the magic of make believe.  But I think ‘Movie Magic’ refers not to green screens and CGI, but rather to the emotion and feeling that movies can conjure up inside of us.

I picked up my kids from school/camp today as I always do, but I decided to vary the routine a bit and do something different.  We stopped off at Starbuck’s where they each enjoyed a very rich chocolate chip cookie, and I, of course, sat back and enjoyed my chai latte.  After having this nouveau experience with them, we went back to my place and fired up the DVD player (also known as my PlayStation 2).   We sat down to watch E.T., and what a wonderful experience it was.

I had forgotten how amazing this movie is.  Sitting there watching this with my kids was a bit surreal, mostly because I think I was about ten years old the last time I actually watched the movie.  And it was weird how there were several scenes that were still fresh and vivid in my mind, and those scenes took me back to being a kid and watching that film with my parents.

The storyline is funny yet moving.  The performances given by Henry Thomas (Elliot), Robert MacNaughton (Michael) and little Drew Barrymore (Gertie) were amazing, and one can’t help but get sucked into the emotion of the film’s key moments.  I could tell that my daughter Natalie was also getting sucked into these scenes, too.

Elliott and E.T. lying next to each other while teams of physicians and scientists work frantically on both of them.  Gertie crying in horror as the scientists apply a defibrillator to E.T.’s chest.  The emotion of Michael as he realized E.T. is dying.  Couple that with the soul wrenching score by John Williams, a score that is just typically brilliant, and it’s nearly impossible to turn the water works off.

“Daddy …. <sniffle> ….. are you crying?”

“Um ….. <nervous wipe> ….. no, baby girl.”

“Then why do I see a tear drop on your face?”

“I … um …. <sniffle> ….. was chopping onions.”

It was then and there that I truly experienced a ‘Movie Magic’ moment.  I was taken back to 1982, watching this film with my dad, and asking him the same question.  “Dad, are you crying?”  Except my father was man enough to admit it.  He was not shy to let me know that he was not afraid to show his emotion or wear his heart on his sleeve.  The menacing ogre of an exterior with the soft, teddy bear interior.  And at that moment he was there holding me as I sat there holding Natalie.

Movies are, after all, entertainment.  They can be a study of reality, a critique on reality and most commonly an escape from reality.  Maybe we’ll learn something.  Maybe we’ll laugh or cry or be left with goose bumps on our necks. But at the end of the day, it’s still just something we watch to pass the time. The key is to share that time and experience those moments with someone special.  Because when we do, it’s then that those moments become truly magical.

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