E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
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The movie still makes tears well up in my eyes and gives me a lump in my throat. I still find it profoundly moving. It's heart-breakingly sad, yet phenomenally uplifting at the same time. I had no idea a movie could be so powerful when I saw this in the movies for the first time when I was eleven.
What I think makes E.T. so powerful for me now is the heart-wrenching way it has of making me long to be a kid again. I refuse to ever completely grow up, and my memories are my own, but man does this movie make me wish I was eleven again, when riding my bike was a pleasure, Matchbox cars were the greatest thing in the world, Halloween was a night of mystery and creepy fun I looked forward to all year, going to the movies was an adventure, and looking up at the stars could be a mind-blowing experience.
E.T. keeps those feeling alive for me. So do a lot of other things, but E.T. is the champ. As much as my cynical adult side may want to slap Steven Spielberg around sometimes, I would happily give him a hug for his timeless gift to the world, E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL.
As many of the users have said, this is a film made for children and it achieves this brilliantly.
I do feel as well that it targets adults, returnign them to their innocence. The time of our lives when mothing was impossible and everything had goodness in it. In modern times it is all too often seen that children are desperate to become adults and lose their innocence far too quickly. This story in which S.S developed helps adults to return to that time.
I would give this film 11/10. Anyone who feels that it is not heart warming and emotional, I think have been watching a totally different film!!!!!
Being that movies were such an intricate part of my young life and these experiences shaped me into the man that I am today, it is easy to recall with reverence the entire experience that went with those films. E.T. is a rare film however, because it is an experience that just gets better with age.
There was a theater in Windsor Ontario, where I spent my youth called the Vanity, located on Oullette Street, right near Wyandotte. This one theater was the place to be when the blockbsuters arrived. It was a one celled theater that managed to flourish in a time which pre-dated multi plexes with arcades and Pizza Hut's.
When the sequel to Star Wars arrived, the Vanity proudly played it. Same with Raiders and it's sequels and of course E.T. E.T. was a film that me and my best friend Gary had to see because it was Spielberg. Even though we were ten years old, we knew that Spielberg had given us great films like Jaws, Close Encounters and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I am not sure if it is normal at the age of ten but we rushed out to see E.T. because we knew who directed it. What a phenom this tiny film turned out to be and what a life changing experience the whole film was.
When you are ten and you see a movie with your best friend who watches the A-Team and Conan the Barbarian with you, you expect a certain reaction from him. After all, this same friend enjoys playing football at lunch and enjoys inflicting pain in a barbaric pasttime called the "The Tripping Game", therefore you don't expect a film to affect you and your macho friend the way E.T. did. When you are ten, you go to the movies to see things like lightsabre duels and heroes with bullwhips being lowered into the Well of the Souls and maybe the occasional breast shot. What you don't expect is a film to manipulate your emotional realm thh way E.T. did and still does. Most of my friends who saw E.T. bawled their eyes out at the age of ten. I, for some unexplainable reason did not. I loved the film but it wouldn't be for another six years that I cried in my first film. That was She's Having A Baby when Kate Bush sang Woman's Work and made me sob uncontrollably as I watched Kevin Bacon lose his unborn child. Some things can't be explained.
E.T. became one of my favourite films and I saw it again on its re-release in 1985, bought the poster, purchased the movie on VHS and told everyone who would listen that E.T. got robbed at the 82 Oscars when it lost every major category to (snicker snicker) Gandhi. There have been some Oscar travesties but this ( along with Annie Hall defeating Star Wars and Cuckoo's Nest beating Jaws ) had to be up there as one of the most ridiculous snubs ever. I was peeved. What a joke. But all of the cranky and derelict academy members seethed with contempt and jealousy because they couldn't accept the fact that a man this young could really be this much of a genius. In fact he made the rest of the folks in Hollywood look young compared to himself.
As the years passed I became a film lover, a movie buff and I tried to see any and every film out there. And I did. It's not that E.T. became an after-thought, it's just that it became one of those films that just sat it my collection and wasn't utilized often enough. When I made my revised top 25 list, E.T. would always hover around number 20. That is not an indictment of the quality of E.T., it's just that my tastes became more garnered to horror films and the sheer brilliance of E.T. was stored in the catacombs of my mind. That all changed on March 24th, 2002. This is ironic because my wife and I had the whole day planned. We were going to see E.T. at the theater and then come home and watch the 24 hour Oscar-a-thon. And in a year when an inferior film like A Beautiful Mind takes top honours from the much more ambitious and deserving Lord of the Rings, it reminded me of 20 years ago. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Seeing E.T. after a 17 year hiatus was nothing short of uplifting. My excitement was gushing and when John Williams' ever recognizable score reverberated over the sound system, I was hooked and it felt like I was ten all over again. I also noticed that the audience was an eclectic mix of young kids, 30 somethings like myself and the elderly. All of us were there because we either wanted to experience it for the first time or because we wanted to feel what it was like that first time we saw it 20 years ago.
I think I liked E.T. when I was ten but this time around I developed a deep level of respect for it. E.T. is simply one of the finest films ever made and if you have not seen the film in the theater then you have no idea what you are missing. Everything about this film is perfect, and there really aren't many films around I can say that about. Even some of my personal favourites have moments of weakness but not E.T. There has never really been another movie that has offered the experience that E.T. does. And when I said that I didn't shed a tear while watching E.T., that has all changed. I think there were about five moments in E.T. that had me holding back the tears. You can analyze the film, psychologically deconstruct it and tell me that the reason the film works so well is because of the feeling of loneliness and comradery and I will agree with you. But I don't really care about that. What it comes down to is that E.T. is a film that will touch you in a way that no other film before could do and no other film after it can. 1982 was a different time for film and it was a different time as a civilization. And E.T. encompassed all of that. If I had to make my revised top 25 list, E.T. would be number 2, right behind Jaws and ahead of JFK, Halloween, American Beauty and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
If you have not seen E.T. at the theaters since 1985, please I urge you, go see it again. It is a film experience that is indefeasible. It is also a film that should be looked upon as a paradigm for which all movies should try to emulate. There is a reason that films like E.T. and Star Wars and Raiders make the money they do. And there is also a reason they stay firmly planted in our memories. That is because they mean something and they stand for something. Those are the qualities in film that transcend time and they transcend the generations.
10 out of 10----What more can be said?
Who hasn't seen this. There are series of episodes that have become part of our cultural landscape. Words have been brought into our language. We speak along with Elliot and ET. Halloween, phoning home, frogs all over the lab, hiding in the closet among the stuffed animals, the bike ride where the bikes suddenly leave the ground, the touching of the finger and the heart. It's just magical. Sometimes when one sees a movie, one begins to say, "If only they had done this or that." I can't think of anything in this film. Why write this review. Just to include my two cents' worth.
I was disappointed. I'm still not sure why. The movie sort of dragged, making me feel bored. And I found myself way too detached from the movie than I was supposed to be. A very bad experience which proves this: I was watching this scene with the flying bike, the music was beautiful and soaring, and I was saying to myself, "Now this is supposed to be a great moment," and I repeated some comment like that too at the last few scenes of the movie. The problem was, the moment I thought that, I knew whatever great moment it was supposed to be, I didn't feel that way. And that was how the whole movie was for me.
It is not that I don't believe in sentimentality. I am a HUGE Frank Capra fan. And I can't watch "Field of Dreams" (which I know isn't Capra) without tears in my eyes at many points in the movie.
So that isn't it. It's just that "E.T." is so phony, so synthetic, so made-up, so ENGINEERED to try to make me feel something, that I have to resent it.
I'll just never understand Spielberg. For so long, I had nothing but contempt for him. Till Schindler's List. (Does anyone (other than Nazis) not like Schindler's List?)
And then, too, he made Saturday-morning worth getting up for. (Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain). I finally (and grudgingly) had to admit that the man is a genius. But he is a genius who has done some bad work. And E.T. was some of his worst work.
ET is the story of little alien left behind on Earth and found by Elliot, a caring young boy who takes ET as his brother. Heartwarming, delightful and featuring a sublime Musical Score from master Composer John Williams.
ET won 4 Academy Awards and earned the Best Film Golden Globe.
"A powerful, astonishing, emotionally engaging, intelligent modern masterpiece. Not only a triumph as a sci-fi film, but as a cinematic treasure 10/10"
"One of the 100 greatest films ever made. Spielberg's masterpiece has not yet faded... A timeless classic"
"Spielberg is a magician in the world of film. He has the Mida's Touch."
Then came the toys, the dolls, the games, the happy meals. All created prior to the film's debut so that Steven Spielberg could buy another yacht. The entire movie was filled with gimmicks from AT&T's buy-in of "Phone Home" to the film's two hour commercial for Reeses Pieces. Let's not forget how this ground-sinking, anti-epic was also the springboard for Drew Barrymore's extensive film career which hit a pinnacle when she exposed her breasts to David Letterman on "The Late Show". Her dad must be very proud.
E.T. should stand for Extreme Torture. This film rates a 10 on the Puke-O-Meter.
1) Child actors -- All I could think of was The Phantom Menace, and how it's always a big risk to cast a young, unproven kid as a main character. Henry Thomas as Elliott wasn't quite as painful as Jake Lloyd, but he still wasn't that good. Far too many of his lines were delivered with a grating screech. Drew Barrymore wasn't too cloying as the cutsie li'l girl but the combination of she or the two boys being in each and every scene meant we never got a break from child actors. There wasn't anyone in this movie who gave an outstanding -- or even above average -- performance.
2) The "connection" between Elliott and E.T -- What are the rules regarding this connection? How come sometimes Elliott is completely in synch with E.T. but other times they're feeling things separately? And why would E.T. do that to Elliott in the first place? What purpose did it serve to make a young boy, who's trying to help him, suffer? His brother later says that Elliott "feels his (E.T.'s) feelings"? To what end? And why does this empathy come and go? Had Elliott been heretofore unable to feel emotions? Is that what E.T. was trying to teach him? We're never given any insight on Elliott prior to E.T.'s arrival so anything about Elliott's background is just conjecture.
3) E.T.'s intelligence -- Why does a member of a race that's conquered inter-stellar travel act like such a simp? He can build a MacGyver-like contraption to send signals into space but he still doesn't know better than to pop a metal toy in his mouth and start chewing it? He springs out of his body bag and starts babbling "phone home, phone home" to the point that he has to be shushed by a 10 year old kid. That's a horrible inconsistency that can only be explained away with a huge leap of logic.
4) The sets and scenery -- Fans of MST3K will remember episode 303 Pod People, which was an early 80's E.T. knockoff. When I watched the original again it was almost like the makers of Pod People were intentionally taking the mick out of E.T. All the jokes about the fog machines from that episode of MST3K could apply to E.T. Southern California is an arid climate, all of the day shots feature bright blue skies, yet each night the pavement is soaked as if it stopped raining just a minute ago, while the air is thick with moisture. There were frequent lapses in continuity when it came to cloud cover and daylight. The worst is when the boys are taking E.T. to the rendezvous with his space ship. As they break the police blockade it's broad daylight; suddenly the sun is red and setting; and what was likely a couple minutes later they're in the woods at night -- although when the ship takes off it's dusk again. The ship rises into a beautifully clear evening, with no breeze visible in the tree tops, but back in the woods everyone's again shrouded in mist and what appears to be a stiff wind is blowing everyone's hair. Seriously, Pod People wasn't half as ridiculous about these things.
Then there's all the indoor shots at Elliott's house. You never see a shade covering the windows, only Venetian blinds. Yet even in the middle of the sunniest day the inside of the house is dark as pitch, necessitating the use of lamps. The deleted scene of E.T. in the bath tub is illustrative of this. Since you get no context for the shot, I assumed it was supposed to be night time given how dark the house was, yet Elliott's mom calls from work to see how he's feeling! Never does anyone mention that hiding E.T. from prying eyes is a concern. On Halloween, Mary is coming down the hallway to take their picture and it's as dark as can be, with candles lit. But then they go outside and it's still daylight. All the indoor shots were so obviously shot on a stage that it comes off like a cut-rate soap opera.
5) A couple other random questions -- How did E.T. know a ship was coming for him? Telepathically? If they were able to communicate that way then why did he have to rig up the "phone" and call them? Why did that one kid have a balaclava on him during a typically gorgeous SoCal afternoon? How come when E.T. first enters Elliott's room he is reaching over his head to touch the objects on the table, yet the next morning he's tall enough to see what's on the table (and no, his neck wasn't extended.)? Why was Mary wearing a satin bathrobe in front of teenage boys in the beginning of the movie, like some sort of temptress? Then she's an anguished divorcée. Then she's an independent career woman. Then she's ditzy and perhaps tipsy on Halloween. It just seems like there was never an agreed upon direction for her character. E.T. can make objects -- including the bike he's riding on -- levitate, but the boys have to lift him into the bike's basket??
I don't dislike the movie. I was 11 when it came out and probably liked it a lot then. As I said, there's still a nostalgia factor in its favor. I just can't buy into the idea that it's a well done film.
They say that the path to a fat man's heart goes through his over-sized belly, but sometimes the digested waste product of one called Spielberg can achieve the same result.
When I was a kid I wanted to take a whiff of Spielberg's brown monster as much as the next kid. And I wasn't disappointed. I was only a clueless little brat at the time, what the hell did I know about cheesy Hollywood manipulation that makes you close your eyes (and nose) to the nonsense that surrounds the story of Spielberg's brown monster? However, many years later, and I discover that it's not all that it's CRACKed up to be. Plenty of stained holes in the script, and near every hole there's SBM sitting like the badly choreographed creature that it always was. A dumb kid called Elliott discovers SBM and goes all gooey and sentimental in no time. I didn't get it this time around: why would anyone in their right mind want to go anywhere near this film? It has a stench not unlike that of an over-crowded pig-sty.
The main culprit for the bad taste left in my mouth after taking a sample of Spielberg's brown monster was not the midgety dinosaur himself. It was the annoying kids and the retarded clichés. First we have Drew Barrymore whose facial asymmetry was apparent as early as 1982. Think about it. And then think about what it means to be nepotistic offspring in Hollywood: it opens doors even for the least talented and least good-looking among us. Spielberg, who fathered the brown monster in one of his less-than-inspired bathroom moments, is also Drew's godfather. Not to mention all those relatives of hers, all infamous for their shoddy B-movie starring roles. All in the family... But I'm sure that Drew will always look back at this movie with fondness, knowing that it was E.T. that launched her nose into the seductive world of cocaine.
So Elliott discovers SBM, invites it to his home, hides it from his parents (instead of flushing it, like any normal boy would), and then the evil adults and the government's wicked, knife-happy scientists kidnap SBM from right under his nose, hoping to anal-probe SBM as soon as possible. What exactly they'd hoped to find in SBM is beyond me. Clues to the director's digestive system? Judging from ET, the maker of "Jaws" ate some rather strange foods in the early 80s...
I will never understand the age-old movie cliché of the snip-happy scientists raring to have a stab at the noble alien creature, as if killing a one-of-a-kind specimen made any sense to even the most deranged sociopath, let alone an intelligent scientist.
The other pathetic cliché is all of the kids being wise and good, the adults stupid and evil. Well, if that's the case, then why don't we put the little ones in charge of Wall Street and the economy? I think we should start by appointing Spielberg's own brood to run the White House... I do not doubt for a second that this would lead to a Utopic future society of almost Spielbergian proportions.
"The creature, which looks a little like Snoopy..." - Roger Ebert, film critic and dog expert.
I've read my share of Peanuts comics, but struggle to find any character there that even vaguely resembles the monster. But then again, Ebert also called this movie "scary", so why wonder...
Yes, and why wonder that Spielberg, of all people, should create such a brown monster. After all, he once told Barbra Streisand that "Yentl" was the best movie he'd seen since "Citizen Kane".
"Film is my drug and every few months I need a new fix." - Steven Spielberg
Directed by Steven Spielberg, "ET: the Extraterrestrial" stars Henry Thomas as Elliot, a kid living in suburban California. As his parents have separated, Elliot's a bit depressed. Thankfully Elliot befriends a small alien creature, whom he dubs 'ET'. Like Elliot, ET's name starts with an E and ends with a T. More importantly, ET's also been abandoned by his parents. This separation leads to ET's body becoming pale and sickly. ET eventually dies, but is magically resurrected when his parents return. "ET phone home!" ET triumphantly says. The message is clear. For Spielberg, himself the son of divorced parents, the family unit has the power to heal and nourish.
The motif running through all of Spielberg's key films is that of the recovery of the father figure. In "ET", both Elliot and the alien are abandoned by their fathers. "Empire of the Sun", "Hook", "AI", "Minority Report", "Catch Me If You Can", "Indiana Jones" and "War of The Worlds" likewise all focus on parental abandonment. "Jurassic Park" itself begins with child hating archaeologist, Dr Alan Grant, threatening kids with a raptor bone (a symbol of the paternal superego). Only later, in a very brief scene, does Grant throw away this bone. At this point he suddenly becomes a father and reconciles with the children. As he nestles in a tree, cradling the sleeping kids in his arms, the predatory dinosaurs of the night slowly morph into benevolent herbivores the following morning.
Philosopher Slavoj Zizek would himself call "Schindler's List" an "ugly remake of Jurassic Park", with the Nazis as the dinosaur monsters, Schindler as the cynical-profiteering and opportunistic parental figure and the infantilized ghetto Jews as threatened children. The story the film tells is not about the Holocaust, but about Schindler's gradual rediscovery of his paternal duty towards the Jews. His transformation into a caring and responsible father, echoes Sam Neil's character arc in "Jurassic Park".
The same story is repeated in "Duel", in which a weak and effeminate father must battle demon trucks in order to assert his masculinity and reclaim his marriage, and again in "The War of the Worlds", in which Tom Cruise plays a divorced working class father who neglects his two children. The invasion of the aliens reawakens in him the "proper paternal instincts", resulting in him rediscovering himself as a caring father. In the final scene he finally gets recognition from his son who, throughout the film, despised him.
So at their core, Spielberg's films are all "the story of a divorced or working class father who strives to regain the respect of his children". Sometimes this tale is told from the perspective of the child, sometimes it is told from the perspective of the adult. In each case it's the same story.
Mostly, though, Spielberg's cinema is a cinema of "trauma avoidance". The reason's for Daddy (or state/nation/leader) being a jerk are suppressed and the crisis of masculinity is repaired or avoided via Daddy's battles with fantasy monsters (nazis, sharks, dinosaurs, trucks etc). In short, power and patriarchy are rehabilitated via fantasy.
One can see similar "trauma avoidance" in "ET", a film which posits fantasy as an imagined escape from pain. In the film, Elliott's broken family is not in any real sense repaired, or its brokenness even explored as a truly solvable emotional problem. Instead, the film uses aliens to provide a false emotional closure.
In "ET", the little alien becomes a mediator who provides a substitute father, only to disappear and "go home" once Elliot's mother embraces the good scientist (and new father?) in the final shot. As Spielberg's art is always about avoidance and not confrontation, daddy's absence is never resolved or investigated, and so his creepy rehabilitation must be repeated, over and over again, from one film to the next. Whether it be young Elliot in "ET" or Chris Bale in "Empire of the Sun", Spielberg's fantasies palliate traumatic human experiences (divorce, war, slavery, terrorism, Holocaust etc) by offering viewers the film's imaginative plenitude as a compensation for its characters' emotional losses.
But despite all this, almost everything in "ET" works. The film oozes raw, naked emotions and never pretends to offer anything other than a child's knee-high perspective, which Spielberg's shooting strategy reinforces. Autobiographical to the core, the film perfectly reflects its author, a man who has made a career of avoiding painful truths by indulging in fantasy. It's once these personality traits are married to external issues (Munich, Amistad, Ryan etc), that you get profoundly untruthful junk.
8/10 - Would spawn a whole genre of "suburban kids' adventures".
If anyone thinks I'm missing the point let me say this: Spielberg's first movie was a pseudo horror movie called DUEL a fairly effective thriller ( Casting aside ) about a man driving through desert wilderness . Spielberg then made SOMETHING EVIL a chilling horror film and then made JAWS another legendary quasi horror movie with a monster that exits in reality a great white shark . JURASSIC PARK is to all intents a horror movie , and I bet the upcoming WAR OF THE WORLDS will get a few pulses racing . In other words Spielberg despite his flaws can make an audiences heart leap out of their mouth but his main flaw is that he all too easily drowns an audience in gooey sentimentality . THE TERMINAL suffered from this and so did parts of SCHINDLER'S LIST and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN , and without doubt ET is the best example of Spielberg's sugary sentiment suffocating a story , not that there was much of a story to start with . And I haven't even mentioned the all American kids or the ridiculous flying bikes sequence or the terrible John Williams score . The only significance ET has in my life is that it introduced me to the words " Geek " " Wimp " and " Douce-bag " and that I had to watch nearly every sci-fi movie of the mid to late 1980s revolve around a plot of a cute alien being adopted by a child . Give me THE THING and LIFEFORCE anytime
Anyway, this is one of those films made by Spielberg that helps to cement his status as the premiere fairy tale teller of all (film) time.
The simple premise that not all aliens want to rip out our spines of lay chest bursters inside us a kill all our friends is a concept that has not been returned to since (apart from the dismal Cocoon).
This is probably because nobody will ever be able to recreate the intense emotional journey that Spielberg has portrayed. THe heart wrenching scenes between Elliot and E.T. at the end of the film will go to prove the exqisitely realised genuinity of the love and friendship that develops and actually exists (I mean that Henry Thomas - ELiiot - came to love the puppet as if he were real) is what makes everything in life worth it.
Full of warm moments, clever touches and humour, E.T. is an absolutely essential watch for all fim fans.
Spielberg's 'lovable-space-creature-slums-it-in-suburbia' movie is one of the greatest achievements in imagination ever put on film. The simplicity of the narrative and the ingeniousness of the E.T. character create a powerful combination. The genius and wonder of E.T. is that Spielberg creates a character that is obviously not real. However, he draws the audience in so well that you care for him as much as you do for the children. What the movie does so well is to capture that moment in life when childhood seems to be slipping away. This is a wondrous evocation of that time in our lives when brothers and sisters were necessary co-conspirators, bikes were our ticket to freedom and we were willing to believe that a friendly little alien could really appear from the backyard shed. While doing so, Spielberg manages not only to entertain young children but also reach out to the child in all of us, never failing to strum the heartstrings.
Many have hailed E.T. as a bona-fide sci-fi classic. For me, it is a heart and soul movie that just happens to have a sci-fi angle. And you know what? You're sure going to need a box of tissues!