Melissa Mathison, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of E.T., has passed away at 65.
She gave us the film's iconic "E.T. phone home," but what connects each viewing is her rich understanding of the hearts and minds of children. She got to the part deep within all of us that was afraid of growing up and change, of trying to hold tightly to what would only be taken away from us. Adding this insight with natural and efficient dialogue, she turned uncomplex phrases like "Be good" and "I'll be right here" into primal moments loaded with childhood longing.
A mother of two herself, her grasp of the young mindset was also at play in her adaptations of The Black Stallion and The Indian in the Cupboard, and provided unique insight into the Dalai Lama for Kundun.
A natural fit to the fascinations of Spielberg, her gifts will be greatly missed. Coming in the year ahead, we will luckily have one last collaboration from the pair: the Roald Dahl motion-capture adaptation of The BFG. Material perfectly suited to her skills, it's a chance to celebrate her again.
RIP Melissa Mathison