Can “Back When” come back?

TCM ran “Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Collectors’ Edition” this afternoon. I was listening to it as I finished formatting the last page of EQ Grand Quest Volume 8. ‘Course I had to stop what I was doing and come out to see the last fifteen minutes…possibly the most visionary and spiritually uplifting climax to any movie ever filmed. It never fails to bring tears of gratitude.

You “under thirties” out there…you just cannot begin to imagine what “Close Encounters” did for – and to – my generation in the mid seventies. It absolutely exploded our minds. No one had ever suggested this possibility: peaceful contact with visitors from the stars, in such a glorious, fulfilling, hopeful and visually stunning way before. We were bathed in light from the big screen…drenched in sound and heavenly music. The experience embraced us even as we embraced it. We all went back again and again and walked around outside in a daze of expanded consciousness when we weren’t glued to our theater seats.

Most of all, this movie gave us an underlying sense of all-rightness, no matter what was going on in the world. Young Mr. Spielberg dared to tell us everything was basically OK; humanity was likable enough and respectable enough to be visited. He also showed us, in the tragicomic scenes where every-man hero Roy attempts to construct a model of Devil’s Tower, how a dreamer may have to sacrifice much that is familiar and comfortable to make that dream come true. Roy’s starry destiny filled our hearts with the comforting thought that anything was possible and any price of admission was worth paying.

Personal aside: Elfquest was born in those days, inspired by and reflecting some of that hope and idealism.

Since then, though technology has advanced apace, you’d be surprised how little else has changed. Richard and I really thought 2005 would look a lot different than it does. And I personally thought the spiritual vibes would be higher than they are. Prejudice, war, greed, materialism and, most of all, fear seem to have a firmer grip than ever.

Given that, I’m asking the “under-thirties” out there…you to whom “Close Encounters” may seem corny and a bit dated…what’s inspiring you on the big screen these days? Are you content with the recent spate of cynical Urban/Goth good vs evil, Heaven vs Hell CGI blockbuster slugfests? Can you stomach the edgy “re-imaginining” of Bugs Bunny and friends that’s happening even as I type? Anyone had their fill of edgyness in general, yet?

You know, it’s possible to inspire the world in a different direction. And you CAN do it selfishly, for your own satisfaction, with no crusading agenda to weigh you down.

If you itch to explode on the scene with heartfelt music, art, stories and movies but feel intimidated, even rejected, by the current Hollywood mindset that sentiment is poisonous and optimism doesn’t put butts in theater seats – I beg you, don’t listen! Don’t wilt! Stick to your world view and find a way to put it out there. Let ’em call you corny! Lord knows Steven Spielberg’s heard that about fifty million times (Richard and I’ve heard our share, too). But if “Close Encounters” set my generation soaring, YOU could be responsible for a visonary “back when” for your generation forty years from now. You really could.

Just give it some thought.

More soon,