Length: 115 minutes
Release Date: June 11, 1982
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Adventure / Family / Fantasy
Few family films have managed to capture the collective imagination as well as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” The story centers around Elliott, a quiet and lonely child whose lack of a stable father figure and poor social skills have led him to a life of isolation. He spends most of his time outdoors looking for some semblance of adventure. What he finds one sunny day is more than he ever bargained for.
Elliott stumbles upon a mysterious secret during one of his excursions in the woods, but this secret is far more intense than any hidden treasure or lost artifact could be and it also leads to far more trouble. His trepidations begin with the sensation of being watched, and they continue until he discovers a small and confused extra-terrestrial ambling about in the woods, completely and utterly lost. While Elliot is shocked at first, it soon becomes clear that this alien is a benevolent and harmonious creature who intends absolutely no harm. Elliot affectionately names him E.T. and is amazed to find that the alien can communicate with him through limited vocalizations. With a sense of wonderment only a child is capable of, he quickly adapts to this bizarre revelation. As it turns out, E.T. is actually a botanist from a highly advanced alien civilization who happened to be accidentally left behind during a visit to Earth to observe the local foliage. Elliott takes E.T. home with him until they can figure out a way to return him to his rightful home far from Earth, especially since government agents are on the prowl. Unbeknownst to Elliott, those same agents will stop at nothing to obtain their target.
The unlikeliest of friendship blooms as Elliott struggles to keep his new friend a secret not only from the government but also from his fretful mother. With the help of his somewhat begrudging siblings, he manages to disguise the alien and get him settled in somewhat comfortably to life on Earth. E.T. turns out to be a delightfully gentle soul, eager to learn about Earth and his new friends. While he is doggedly determined to make the most of his experience of his time on the little green planet, he still desperately longs for the home he lost. Nostalgia envelops him as he concocts a plan to return home, but he can’t possibly succeed without the assistance of his newfound family. Elliott helps the alien collect various items of junk from around his mother’s house in order to build a machine capable of contacting his off-world friends. With the signal cast out into space, E.T. and Elliott can only wait and hope that the mother ship comes back before government agents can find E.T. and haul him off to a laboratory for experimentation.
“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is arguably Steven Spielberg’s most endearing and iconic film, filled to the brim with scenes and lines of dialogue that have inspired countless parodies and tributes. The acting is second to none, and this film marks the beginning of a sterling career for actress Drew Barrymore, who portrays Elliott’s younger sister Gertie. Robert MacNaughton plays Elliott’s cantankerous older brother Michael and Elliott himself is portrayed by Henry Thomas. MacNAughton and Barrymore serve as the perfect foils for Elliott’s shy and timid character, although Robert himself is not as eager to embrace the extra-terrestrial’s presence. Thomas remarkably captures the sense of childhood wonderment and imagination that is required for such a fantastical scenario. The actors who portray Elliott’s family are equally pitch perfect, lending plenty of depth to the film’s secondary story line.
While this may appear to be a basic science fiction film on the surface, the level of character-driven action in this film is on a level of its own. The frantic race against time between E.T.’s ride home and the government officials sent out to capture him is truly a thrill ride to rival all others. In the midst of all the action is a beautiful, deeply heartfelt story about the importance of family and friendship. While E.T. is learning about a new world, Elliott does plenty of growing of his own. Having a friend who understands him and refreshingly communicates on the same wavelength emboldens Elliott, giving him the courage to step out of his shell and embrace the world around him. After all, he decides that if a visitor from another planet can make it on Earth, a shy and troubled kid has a fairly good chance as well.
Steven Spielberg chose a marvelous musical score to go with this delightfully quirky movie, and each track is perfectly matched to its scene without being a distraction. From whimsical instrumentals to thunderous and heart-pounding tracks, the soundtrack perfectly transports the film from one stage to the next. There isn’t a dull moment to be had between musical perfection and the visual masterpiece that is “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” proving that Spielberg truly mastered the craft of creating a film that is enjoyable on all levels. Science fiction fans still marvel at the special effects Spielberg managed to create through the use of chicken wire and clever angles, proving that a huge Hollywood budget isn’t necessary to create a film that will last the test of time.
Even more impressive than the exquisite craftsmanship holding this delightful film together is the fact that “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” can arguably be credited with creating a new sub-genre of relatable character-driven science fiction. In fact, the film allegedly had a major role in inspiring such films as “The Fifth Element”” and “The Host,” two other science fiction films that rely heavily on personal development and human drama to move the more fantastical elements of the film along. “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is one family film that should be in every movie lover’s collection. With an exuberant cast, a wondrous, heartfelt story and exquisite directing, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most beloved movies of all time.
It’s a Giveaway!! Enter Here For a Chance to Win X-Men and the Wolverine Bluray Collection