E.T. phoned home for longtime fan

Since freshman year, my Gannon email inbox has been flooded with messages about discounted tickets from the Erie Philharmonic, and every time I saw one, I sent it right to the trash can.
While I have talked ad nauseum about how much I like listening to movie soundtracks in my free time and while I study, I have never been the type to listen to actual classical music in any capacity. I’m like Seinfeld; the most culture I get comes from Bugs Bunny cartoons.
That being the case, I never had any inclination to go to the symphony, no matter how much of a bargain the tickets were.
That inclination did a complete turnaround when I found out that the Philharmonic was going to be performing the soundtrack to Steven Spielberg’s classic movie “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial,” and not only would they be performing it, they would be doing so while the movie played behind them. I had heard of some symphonies doing this with the “Star Wars” films, but I thought those were isolated shows. I had no idea that this was a thing that was semi-common in the orchestra world. As soon as I found out, I bought the best seats possible with a discount and waited in anticipation.
Soon, the night of the show came and I made sure to get dressed up in my Sunday best. Granted, the website said that I didn’t have to, but I had the best time pretending I was an aristocrat heading to the opera. So, with some nice clothes, a tie and about a pound of shiny hair product on my head, I made my way into the theater.
I want to take this moment and say how talented the Erie Philharmonic is. When I say that what they were playing sounded identical to the original soundtrack, I mean it was virtually indistinguishable. I was incredibly impressed with how they were able to not only recreate my memories of watching the movie as a child, but improve on them.
There is something special that is gained when you see a movie like “E.T.” with a group of people that are just as passionate about the movie as you are. Nobody was talking during the movie, everyone laughed when they were supposed to and most importantly, not a single person had their phone out during the movie. If every moviegoing experience I had was like that one, I would be much less cynical when it came to movie theaters.
Another thing I would like to add is just how much fun it was to watch the orchestra get all tense right before a dramatic scene. I practically know “E.T.” by heart, so I had a very good time looking away from the screen at multiple points in the film to focus on specific instrumentalists. It’s one thing to know a big swell in the score is going to happen, and a completely different thing to watch someone else anticipate that swell like their life is on the line.
Would I recommend seeing a movie for the first time this way? No. Having the orchestra and the conductor present and in front of the screen can be kind of distracting at some points, and the initial enjoyment of the film may be lost. Would I recommend seeing a movie like this for anything other than the first time? Absolutely.
The Erie Philharmonic was able to take a movie I have seen easily over 10 times and put a new spin on it while preserving its original splendor.
Considering how much fun I had that night, I will certainly be attending more Erie Philharmonic shows in the very near future if I can. At the very least, it will be a good excuse to dress up like Don Draper for a night and not feel like a total poser.

BENJAMIN HAYLETT
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