If you are a current undergraduate at Duke, chances are your life is pretty tragic—it means you were born after 1986 and never had the opportunity to see David Bowie as the terrifying yet misunderstood Goblin King on the big screen. Luckily, there is hope. From September 17-27, Durham’s own Carolina Theatre will be hosting its ninth annual Escapism Film Festival.
If you’re unfamiliar with Bowie’s role in the Jim Henson cult classic Labyrinth or unsure of what the “escapism” genre is, imagine those dusty VHS tapes you watched with your cooler older sibling. Back to the Future, The Dark Crystal, Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Goonies—these are just some of the films featured at the festival this year.
Jim Carl, the senior director of the Carolina Theatre and founder of the festival, describes escapism as “the movies you loved as a kid that you wish you could watch with your kids in theaters now.” While some of the other festivals hosted by the theater highlight more serious titles, Carl taglines this festival with, “Interesting is good. Fun is better.”
Brad Lenz, Trinity ’15, who attended the festival last year agrees, saying, “Although I typically go to the Carolina Theatre to see more traditionally artistic films, attending the Escapism Film Festival made me feel all sorts of nostalgia. Plus, I never thought I would ever see The Dark Crystal in theaters.”
Planning the Escapism Film Festival isn’t all campy Goonies-type fun. According to Carl, months of meticulous and thorough research went into acquiring each film that will be shown at the festival. Especially the rare 1982 theatrical vesion of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. In fact, if Clark hadn’t gotten his hands on this particular version of the film, he wouldn’t have shown ET at all.
“It is just one of those movies that you have seen 100 times, you love it, but you aren’t going to have the same reaction to seeing it in theaters as you would with Big Trouble in Little China,” he said.
The Theatre will be screening the 35 mm version of the movie, of which there are only a few dozen known copies in existence. After director Steven Spielberg released the 2002 version of ET, he ordered all copies of the 1982 version to be destroyed. In wake of Spielberg’s recent announcement that the upcoming Blu-ray release of ET in October will include both the 1982 and 2002 versions, Clark knew Universal Studios would now grant the rights to screen the original version. After trying to track down the 1982 original, Clark finally procured his copy from a private collector in New Jersey. As a result, festivalgoers will be able to travel back in time and see the movie in its original form, which has not been shown in 30 years.
Even though most Duke students didn’t have the experience of seeing these films in theaters, they still resonate as nostalgic memories of childhood, a feeling that Carl hopes to capture with the festival.
For a complete schedule and ticket prices, visit carolinatheatre.org