E.T was directed by the great Steven Spielberg whom we know as the director of famed films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Raiders of the Lost Ark. He ventured into more family-friendly territory with this movie. He made the movie a parallel to his own childhood. As a child in 1960, Spielberg's parents divorced thus leaving him quite lonely as well as a tormentor turned protector toward his younger siblings-things that we see clearly in the characters portrayed on screen. Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison were able to take these childhood elements and effectively show how painful/wonderful growing up can be.
The movie begins with a bunch of alien botanists on Earth, but they rush to leave when discovered by a human task force. Unfortunately, one little alien is left behind. The alien is now left alone to fend for himself on a very strange planet. He soon meets 10-year-old Elliot (Henry Thomas), whose parents just separated. They soon become friends. E.T dearly misses his home and tries to send a message to his folks back home while becoming acquaintances with Elliot's mother, Mary (Dee Wallace), brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton), and sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore). Soon, E.T becomes seriously ill.....and so does Elliot thanks to their special bond. When the task force finally intrudes, it may be hard for E.T to join his people again.
I remember when first seeing the movie, I was not impressed with Henry Thomas's performance. Now years later, I come to appreciate his performance. As far as child actors go, Thomas is one of the better ones. Speaking of child actors, Barrymore is very adorable here. She became a big movie star, but this is the role I know her by. If E.T was played by a human, I would say this performance was excellent. The alien was voiced by Pat Welsh, who apparently smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, thus creating the perfect voice for E.T.
I loved the look of E.T. The little alien looks perfectly grotesque but he also looks very cuddly. His eyes are a standout and I like the way he can raise his neck. The way the alien uses sound is also memorable. The catlike purring, those child-like squeals of surprise, etc. Speaking of the looks, the visuals of the film are fantastic! The one scene that stays with me in the bicycle chase/flying scene. Set to the sweeping, magical music of John Williams, you feel the magic as we watch E.T help the children avoid the cops chasing after them.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is the reason why we go to the movies. To escape from our realities and join a world that is filled with magic and emotion. Steven Spielberg created a narrative achievement unlike ever seen before. A family film designed to make you feel, think, and get lost in this world. Every time I finish the movie, there are tears running down my face. Sorry Gandhi, but this film should have won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Solid performances, great visuals, an alien you will never forget, one of John Williams's best scores are just few of the many great things this movie has to offer. Also fun fact! Reeses Pieces became my favorite candy thanks to this movie! Thank you, Elliot for leaving trail of this delicious candy to use as bait for our favorite alien!
My Grade: A