My Favorite Movies #21 – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

1982

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Quick synopsis… With new scenes and special effects, the 20th anniversary re-release of Steven Spielberg’s 1982 smash hit tells the heartwarming story of the special bond 10-year-old Elliot forges with an alien he names E.T.

  • This is the earliest movie that I can remember seeing in the theater.
  • I’m not sure how that’s possible, since it came out in 1982, which would have made me only two years old.
  • I can’t imagine either of my parents thinking it would be a good idea to take a two year old to the movies.
  • But I did read that it was rereleased in 1985, so maybe that’s what I’m remembering.
  • This version that I’m watching has kind of gone the Special Edition route, which I don’t like.
  • It has added CGI effects and some scenes that were not in the original theatrical cut.
  • But where George Lucas leans heavily into his special additions to the Star Wars franchise and actively believes they “improve” the original trilogy, I’ve read that Spielberg actually regrets including these additions to the 20th anniversary release.
  • The changes are obvious from the beginning, and it’s kind of annoying.
  • A group of alien creatures is collecting plant samples from a forest somewhere in California.
  • They’re interrupted by a group of alien hunters.
  • The alien we later come to know as E.T. wandered a little too far from the group and gets left behind when his spacecraft is forced to flee, so as not to get caught by the humans.
  • Originally, when the alien hunters were chasing after E.T., we didn’t get a good look at him.
  • He was just something moving quickly among the grass and shrubs of the woods.
  • Now, this special edition has him hopping along like a frightened rabbit.
  • But, don’t worry… he isn’t caught.
  • Next we meet Elliott, a 10-year-old kid who seems kind of desperate to hang out with his older brother’s friends while they’re playing Dungeons & Dragons.
  • They agree to let him play if he’ll go out and wait for the pizza delivery guy.
  • But, upon retrieving the pizza, he hears something strange coming from the back yard.
  • No one believes him, but later that night he finds the alien hiding behind their shed.
  • They scare each other pretty good and the alien runs away.
  • Elliott’s next move is to use some good old product placement and lure the creature back to his house using Reese’s Pieces.
  • While he’s in the woods, Elliott spots one of the alien hunters, but manages to avoid him.
  • At dinner that night, Michael, Elliott’s older brother, is giving him a hard time about the whole thing, clearly not believing his story.
  • His mother suggests getting in touch with his father to see what he has to say about it, but Elliott carelessly remarks that he can’t because he’s in Mexico with his new girlfriend.
  • The wounds of divorce are still fresh for the family.
  • Elliott stays up late, waiting for the alien, who finally arrives and follows the boy into his room.
  • The alien begins to mimic Elliott’s behaviors, which is the start of a deep connection that the two share throughout the film.
  • That night, back in the woods, the alien hunters look for more evidence of the one who was left behind.
  • One of them finds a pile of Reese’s Pieces left by Elliott.
  • The next day, Elliott fakes sick so he can stay home with his new alien friend.
  • Elliott tries teaching the alien a little about life on earth.
  • And, it must be said, Elliott is a horrible teacher in this respect.
  • All of this information that this kid is talking about is insanely confusing.
  • We see more of their connection when Elliott goes down to get some food and the alien is startled by an opening umbrella in the bedroom.
  • When the umbrella opens, Elliott gets scared and drops all the food on the floor in the kitchen.
  • Michael gets home and Ellott decides to introduce him to the alien.
  • Their younger sister, Gertie, barges in, so they’re forced to let her in on the secret, even though they know she’ll tell their mom.
  • The kids start referring to the creature as E.T., short for extra-terrestrial.
  • As E.T. learns more about life on earth and even gets a basic understanding of English, thanks to Sesame Street, it becomes more and more apparent that he does not belong here.
  • He gets homesick and develops a way to contact his people.
  • But as time passes, he begins to grow ill, which affects Elliott in a similar way.
  • At the same time, those alien hunters have been keeping tabs on the neighborhood, suspecting that the alien was hiding somewhere nearby.
  • They manage to track him to Elliott’s house.
  • And they turn out to be government agents.
  • They converge on the home in just about the most terrifying way imaginable.
  • No one knocks on the front door, no one flashes credentials.
  • They just barge in through the windows in space suits.
  • After being out with E.T.’s communication device all night, both he and Elliott are at death’s door.
  • The government doctors treat both the human and alien, and just as Elliott begins to radically improve, E.T.’s health declines even more.
  • …Until he dies.
  • But he’s only dead for a little while.
  • He revives and helps Elliott, Michael, and Michael’s friends escape the government’s clutches so they can get out to the woods in time for his people to return.
  • It’s kind of a heartbreaking yet heartwarming good bye as E.T. boards his ship and flies away.
  • I know the focus of the movie is on the relationship between Elliott and E.T., but I’ve gotta say I’m more impressed by the character of Michael.
  • I love how he goes from the older brother who takes joy in tormenting his younger siblings to the one who would protect them at any cost.
  • It really is a great movie and the themes are so much deeper than I’m diving in this post.
  • If you’ve managed to go nearly 40 years without seeing it, please change that status soon.

Next week’s movie is something completely different. It’s directed by the Coen Brothers and is loosely based on Homer’s The Odyssey. Any guesses?

One thought on “My Favorite Movies #21 – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

  1. Pingback: My Top 100 Movies | The Confusing Middle

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