Melissa Mathison

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Melissa Mathison
Melissa Mathison.jpg
Mathison in 2015
Born
Melissa Marie Mathison [1]

(1950-06-03)June 3, 1950
DiedNovember 4, 2015(2015-11-04) (aged 65)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationScreenwriter
Years active1979–2015
Spouse(s)
Harrison Ford
(m. 1983;div. 2004)
Children2

Melissa Marie Mathison (June 3, 1950 – November 4, 2015) was an American film and television screenwriter and an activist for Tibetan freedom. She was best known for writing the screenplays for the films The Black Stallion (1979) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), the latter of which earned her the Saturn Award for Best Writing and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Film sequence of images that give the impression of movement

Film, also called movie or motion picture, is a medium used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty or atmosphere by the means of recorded or programmed moving images along with other sensory stimulations. The word "cinema", short for cinematography, is often used to refer to filmmaking and the film industry, and to the art form that is the result of it.

Television Telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images

Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome, or in color, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.

Screenwriter writer who writes for TV, films, comics and games

A screenplay writer, scriptwriter or scenarist is a writer who practices the craft of screenwriting, writing screenplays on which mass media, such as films, television programs and video games, are based.

Contents

Mathison went on to write The Indian in the Cupboard (1995), based on Lynne Reid Banks' 1980 children's novel of the same name, and Kundun (1997), a biographical-drama film about the Dalai Lama. Her final film credit was The BFG (2016), which marked her third collaboration with director Steven Spielberg.

<i>The Indian in the Cupboard</i> (film) 1995 film by Frank Oz

The Indian in the Cupboard is a 1995 American family fantasy drama film directed by Frank Oz and written by Melissa Mathison, based on the children's book of the same name by Lynne Reid Banks. The story is about a boy who receives a cupboard as a gift on his ninth birthday. He later discovers that putting toy figures in the cupboard, after locking and unlocking it, brings the toys to life.

Lynne Reid Banks is a British author of books for children and adults.

<i>Kundun</i> 1997 film by Martin Scorsese

Kundun is a 1997 American epic biographical film written by Melissa Mathison and directed by Martin Scorsese. It is based on the life and writings of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, the exiled political and spiritual leader of Tibet. Tenzin Thuthob Tsarong, a grandnephew of the Dalai Lama, stars as the adult Dalai Lama, while Tencho Gyalpo, a niece of the Dalai Lama, appears as the Dalai Lama's mother.

Early years

Mathison was born on June 3, 1950, in Los Angeles, one of five siblings. Her father, Richard Randolph Mathison, was the Los Angeles bureau chief of Newsweek . Her mother was Margaret Jean (née Kieffer) Mathison, a food writer and convenience-foods entrepreneur. After graduating from Providence High School in 1968, Mathison attended the University of California, Berkeley. [2] Her family was friendly with Francis Ford Coppola, whose children were babysat by Mathison. Coppola offered her a job as his assistant on The Godfather Part II , an opportunity for which she left her studies at UC Berkeley. [2]

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of nearly four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine founded in 1933.

University of California, Berkeley Public university in California, USA

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.

With Coppola’s encouragement, she wrote a script for The Black Stallion, adapted from the novel, that caught the attention of Steven Spielberg. [3]

Steven Spielberg American film director and screenwriter

Steven Allan Spielberg is an American filmmaker. He is considered one of the founding pioneers of the New Hollywood era and one of the most popular directors and producers in film history. Spielberg started in Hollywood directing television and several minor theatrical releases. He became a household name as the director of Jaws (1975), which was critically and commercially successful and is considered the first summer blockbuster. His subsequent releases focused typically on science fiction and adventure films, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Jurassic Park (1993) are seen as archetypes of modern Hollywood escapist filmmaking.

Screenwriting and production credits

Mathison wrote the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in collaboration with Steven Spielberg. It was nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay. [4] The screenplay was based on a story that Spielberg provided to Mathison during the filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark . Spielberg attributes the line "E.T. phone home" to Mathison. [5] She collaborated again with Spielberg for The BFG , which was released in 2016. She also had film credits for The Escape Artist and The Indian in the Cupboard . [2]

<i>E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial</i> 1982 American science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction film produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Melissa Mathison. It features special effects by Carlo Rambaldi and Dennis Muren, and stars Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, and Pat Welsh. It tells the story of Elliott (Thomas), a boy who befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed "E.T.", who is stranded on Earth. Elliott and his siblings help E.T. return to his home planet, while attempting to keep him hidden from the government.

<i>Raiders of the Lost Ark</i> 1981 film by Steven Spielberg

Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 American action adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Lawrence Kasdan from a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It was produced by Frank Marshall for Lucasfilm Ltd., with Lucas and Howard Kazanjian as executive producers.

<i>The BFG</i> (2016 film) 2016 film by Steven Spielberg

The BFG is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, written by Melissa Mathison and based on Roald Dahl’s 1982 novel of the same name. The film stars Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall, Rafe Spall, and Bill Hader. In the film, an orphan human girl befriends a benevolent giant, dubbed the "Big Friendly Giant", who takes her to Giant Country, where they attempt to stop the man-eating giants that are invading the human world.

Dalai Lama

Mathison knew the Dalai Lama from 1990 when she wrote the script for Kundun, and she developed a lasting friendship with him from that time on. She continued to work as an activist for Tibetan freedom and was on the board of the International Campaign for Tibet. [6]

Tibet Plateau region in Asia

Tibet is a region covering much of the Tibetan Plateau in modern-day China. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa, Tamang, Qiang, Sherpa, and Lhoba peoples and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 5,000 m (16,000 ft). The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest, Earth's highest mountain, rising 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level.

International Campaign for Tibet organization

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) is a non-profit advocacy group working to promote democratic freedoms for Tibetans, ensure their human rights, and protect Tibetan culture and the environment. Founded in 1988, ICT is the world's largest Tibet-related NGO, with several thousand members and strong bases of support in North America and Europe. On March 15, 2018, the ICT completed 30 years of service to the Tibetan community and received a video message from the Dalai Lama. ICT also released its new logo. An event was also held in the United States Congress on March 6, 2018 to mark the event with Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Jim McGovern, ICT Chairman Richard Gere, Representative Ngodup Tsering and ICT Board Member Tempa Tsering making remarks.

Personal life and death

From 1983 to 2004, Mathison was married to Harrison Ford; they had two children together. She died on November 4, 2015, in Los Angeles, aged 65, from neuroendocrine cancer. [2]

Her final film, The BFG , was dedicated in her memory.

Screenwriting filmography

YearTitleGenreNotes
1979 The Black Stallion Family-adventure
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Fantasy-adventure-science fiction Saturn Award for Best Writing
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, (1983)
The line "E.T. phone home." is ranked 15th among the top 100 quotations of U.S. cinema by the American Film Institute.
The Escape Artist Drama
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie Science fiction-thriller Segment 2, "Kick the Can"; credited as "Josh Rogan"
1991 Son of the Morning Star Western Television film
1995 The Indian in the Cupboard Family-adventure
1997 Kundun Biographical-drama
1998The Emperor's New Clothes: An All-Star Illustrated Retelling of the Classic Fairy Tale Animated, Family
2008 Ponyo Animated, family-adventure Storyline consultant, English-language translation
2016 The BFG Family-fantasy-adventure Posthumous release
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Writing

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References

  1. "Melissa Mathison". Movies.yahoo.com. April 20, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Chawkins, Steve (November 4, 2015). "Melissa Mathison dies at 65; screenwriter of 'E.T.,' 'Black Stallion,' 'Kundun'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 8, 2015.]
  3. "Melissa Mathison: a masterful storyteller who brought ET to life", The Guardian , November 5, 2015.
  4. Saperstein, Pat. "Melissa Mathison, 'E.T.' Screenwriter and Ex-Wife of Harrison Ford, Dies at 65". Variety. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  5. Weber, Bruce (November 6, 2015). "Melissa Mathison, 65, Dies; Wrote Screenplay for 'E.T.'". New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  6. Melissa Mathison, A Conversation with the Dalai Lama, Rolling Stone, July 21, 2011