E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace
There are movie that are remembered, and then there are films that will stand the test of time. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is one that has managed to stand the test of time more than 30 years after it’s release. In 1982 Steven Spielberg was a young genius, already having made classics like Jaws and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He combined his skills with Henry Thomas (Legends of the Fall), Drew Barrymore (Music and Lyrics), Peter Coyote (A Walk to Remember), and Dee Wallace (Happy in the Valley) to make this wonderful film.
When Elliott, a lonely young boy (Thomas) discovers a lost and helpless extraterrestrial he determines to take him in and help him find a way home. With some help from his brother (Robert MacNaughton) and sister (Barrymore) he makes sure to keep this a secret. Meanwhile, government scientists are seeking the extraterrestrial out and Elliott has to make sacrifices to protect the new friend he’s named E.T..
This isn’t just a movie about an alien coming to earth. I’ve seen those films and they don’t ever create the feelings that this one does. This is a movie about forming relationships and the power of those bonds. There is an emotional quality that comes with this sort of story that really makes this much more than a science-fiction film. I think that in addition to incredible direction by Spielberg, a lot of credit needs to go to Melissa Mathison who wrote the screenplay. Her writing brought out the emotional power needed for this movie.
E.T. would be nominated for 9 Academy Awards, including one for the screenplay by Mathison. The other nominations included Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score (John Williams), Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Effects. The film took home four of these awards. (Best Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Effects, Best Sound) If you’re wondering why it didn’t win more consider the films it was up against: Gandhi, The Verdict, and Das Boot just to name a few of the hits that season.
The acting in this movie is as impressive as the special effects. It’s amazing to see how much Spielberg was able to coax out of the three young actors at the front of the story. Their emotions were a key to the success of the film, and I think the success was partially due to the fact that Spielberg chose to film much of the movie in chronological order. In addition, he didn’t have the actors on the set to see E.T. until their character was actually going to see him. This created some real moments of surprise and awe.
If you can’t tell, I really love this movie. It is such a wonderful story and I’m surprised that it’s aged as well as it has. Like other classics, this is a movie that should not ever be remade. There is nothing to improve upon. This is a movie for the whole family and I the legacy of this movie can be passed on to future generations. I definitely give this one 5 out of 5 stars.