Monday, 16 November 2009

Glory of the 80s

is a Tori Amos Song, which I borrow here to refer to last night's movie watching. We watched ET on an old VHS tape. The last viewing dates from some years back, when we watched it with my daughter, perhaps then around the same age when I saw it first (10). And now with a ten-year old son. The movie is now 27 years old, and seeing in on that "original" crackling tape with hideously bad Finnish subtitles is a total nostalgic treat!

I remember when ET hit the movie charts in Finland, and we were still quite modestly equipped with movie paraphernalia, but my British penfriend sent me some stickers and other things that made the locals green with envy. It must have been the first "commodified" movie in Finland, at least as far as I can remember. Those were the days when some families already had video recorders, but my family only acquired one in 1985. I have bought my original ET VHS in the 2000s from a flea market.

ET is more a depiction of ordinary American family life than of extraterrestrial life, the most revealing detail is that the mother doesn't notice the goblin's existence in her house for days. It is a story of a family crisis, and the kind of blindness a crisis can cause to all external events in the closest surroundings. Of course, it is also essentially a parable of becoming familiar with otherness, any kind of otherness that might cross our paths these days. From the perspective of the challenges today's children face in their everyday life, ET might not anymore seem so alien as it did in the 1980s.

What really endears me in the movie is how fresh the actors look without plastic surgery and recent techonologies of image manipulation. Drew Barrymore in the role of the youngest child, daughter Gerd, is a total darling. I love the "messiness" of the film: especially the home decor aspect, the layers and layers of tacky things - the kind of ordinariness of American living, which one hardly sees anymore on the screen. Or am I just watching the wrong movies?

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