E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Release year: 1982
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenwriter: Melissa Mathison
Starring: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, Sean Frye, Erika Eleniak
Ratings: 4 Oscars: Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Effect, Best Original Score. 5 Oscar nominations: Best Movie, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing. 2 Golden Globes: Best Original Score, Best Picture – Drama. 4 Saturn Awards: Best Sci-Fi Movie, Best Music, Best Speciel Effects, Best Poster Art.
Lured to the garage by noise, Elliott (Henry Thomas) finds a friendly alien lost and alone. Together with big brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and little sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) he tries to help it.
Steven Spielberg’s (Jaws 1975) modern fairytale is just as magical and wonderful, as it was when it came out. Made simultaneously with Poltergeist (1982), which Spielberg produced, the two movies were made to complement each other. Where Poltergeist was the suburban nightmare, E.T. represented the suburban dream, and that is excactly how it feels, like one long dream, dreamt on a lazy summer day by a kid. Spielberg cleverly shot most of the film from the eye level of a child and keeps us from seeing any other adult face other than Elliott mum’s (Dee Wallace) through the first half of the film, to establish that this is about E.T.’s connection with the children. Thomas (Legends of the Fall 1994) delivers one of the best ever child performances as the young boy who bonds with the alien, while a very young Barrymore (50 First Dates, 2004) charms her way in to every heart in her breakthrough role as the adorable kid sister, whose bonding mostly consists of playing dress up with the new living doll. Wallace (Cujo 1983) is deliciously absent, a caring mother who never manages to see what is going on in her own house. Her ignorance and the way the goverment men tackle the situation makes the adults the “bad guys” in the movie, further adding to the wonderful sense of adventurous childhood experience. The alien it self is luckily made without the computer effects that wouldn’t have stood the test of time, as it is, it looks fresh and newly out of the best in the business. It is a tale of wonder, about friendship and courage, and about embracing what’s different instead of trying to own it. Watch it if you are or have ever been a kid!
When composer John Williams had trouble matching the score to the film, Spielberg bravely told Williams to conduct the orchestra as he would at a concert and whereafter he slightly re-edited the film to match the music. The movie won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.
Picture copyright: UIP