What you can learn from E.T.

What you can learn from an epic scene in an epic movie.

Can it really be 36 years?

It doesn’t seem possible but the epic sci-fi movie about friendship that is E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is 36 years old this year.

36!! Time needs to slow right down!

The movie came to my attention again the other day when I came across it on Amazon Prime during my train commute to work and it still holds a special place in my heart for a multitude of reasons.

Its central theme of loneliness and friendship resonated with the 1982 teenage me. It’s masterful storytelling and filmmaking artistry inspired me and set me on a creative path that in no small way led to this blog and the icing on the cake was a model train in its pivotal scene.

Yep, you may have missed it but as with most of his movies (Spielberg is a train fan) it’s there.

He even chooses what is undoubtedly one of the most emotional and scariest moments of the movie to slip it in.

When I first watched E.T. this scene really shook me up and I still think it’s one of the best and most intense scenes of any movie.

It’s got it all in a 2 minute roller-coaster of emotions: happiness turning to fear when mum sees ET for the first time; the heartstrings being pulled as Elliot is pulled away from his sick and dying friend; the terror and shock of faceless invader in the doorway, and the fear at finding all exits blocked as the intruders break their way in.  All set to a gradually imposing musical tempo and Darth Vader-esque heavy breathing perfectly topped off by the pressing warning whistle of the model train as mum screams “this is my home”.

Fantastic!

Whoever on the production crew set up the layout also knew about model railways. Check out the plastic pine tree (it’s in the far right-hand corner of the table) that doesn’t stand up straight. We’ve all had one like that!

So what can you learn from this?

The take away is not to build your model railways in a living space or room.

It sounds obvious but I’ve seen and heard of so many people who do this. Myself included in my younger years. It may be tempting and easier but please don’t do it.

Putting them on dining room tables and floors is just asking for trouble. Okay, maybe not a visit from NASA and the FBI but your trains simply won’t get on with the mess and dirt that usually occupies such spaces. If you’ve ever spilt tea over a brand new Hornby train you’ll understand!

Instead, “be gooood” and create a dedicated space for them. You and they will be much happier.

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