Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Movie Index

E.T.: THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL

Directed by Steven Spielberg (1982, Universal Pictures)
Starring Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace, and Robert MacNaughton

A young boy bonds with a stranded extraterrestrial, and helps the alien call his shipmates back to Earth to retrieve him.

 

 

5 stars

November 4th, 2013 on DVD for the 10th time  
    I haven't watched this movie in 11 years, but it felt like I was returning to it after no time at all. I really loved it -any movie that can make me cry has to be a good one! I also loved watching my kids' reactions to this priceless movie. There was awe, laughter and tears, then joy. There was so much to like about the movie.  
 

5 stars

October 26th, 2002 on DVD for the 9th time  
    Absolutely wonderful.

Before writing this, I took a look at what I wrote below, when I saw the movie in the theatre for the first time in who knows how many years. It seems that just about everything I thought of saying while I watched the movie on DVD was said there!

What I noticed about the DVD version of this film is that it seemed to be even better presented than even the theatrical version! I couldn't get over the sharpness and the colors. The film seemed brighter and everything more pronounced. It was really like watching magic!

ET and his fellow aliens are shown in much the same manner as the adults here -kid-eye level. They are completely disguised, either hiding behind bushes or at a large distance, or in silhouette, until he enters Elliot's room. It really made us wonder what these creatures could possibly be.

It seems that on the small screen, the bit that I disliked so much last time seemed a little tamer. The scenes with the scientists and doctors, who were doing their best even though they had no idea what to do, were not so bothersome (aside from the silly dialog -"He's got DNA!"). I didn't know that Spielberg actually hired real doctors to play those parts.

And once again, there was the acting. Everybody was top notch, in their characters, their emotions, and giving their dialog. The behind the scenes featurettes tell us that Spielberg filmed the movie sequentially, very unusual, so that the reactions of the kids and the rest of the cast was totally believable. And as was repeated so many times, the shot of Drew Barrymore (ah, my heart just sings...) when the electric paddles were used to try and revive ET, was so amazingly appropriate.

The featurettes were mainly fluff, with little interesting bits. I was surprised, and a little disappointed, that there was no audio commentary. I am not normally a fan of these commentaries, bit I think it would have been amazing to hear the movie-making process as it was going on in this case. The special effects feature was neat, though, as it compared the digitally enhanced version with what was there before, like the removal of the guns (which is not noticeable in any way, unless you are looking for it), and the emoting face of the puppet, which is also not noticeable. But the best comparison has to be that of ET running back to his ship, instead of a light on a track! The introduction to the John Williams Live music at the premiere was also amazing to see.

While I like having the original, unaltered version of the movie, I don't think it is a must-have. I would have preferred the originally-planned documentary look at the making of the movie, but I am not willing to pay for all the other extras in the oversized collector's edition. I don't want all the other extras, like the script, and so on. Maybe I'll have to rent it...

The movie, however, looked amazing, and is really well worth watching on DVD (widescreen, of course)!
 

 

4 stars

April 2nd, 2002 in the Theatre for the 8th time  
    Wonderfully done, very cute and funny, but one set of scenes ruins the absolute beauty of the film.

I was amazed at how funny this movie was. I don't remember the huge amount of humor. I last saw this film on a big screen when I was barely a teenager, back in the days when movies were re-released even just a year or two after being first seen. Like when I saw the entire Star Wars Trilogy for six hours in a row on the same screen. But I digress... E.T. was shown on a big screen, but it was one of those small big screens, the size of the ones that some people now have in their living rooms. I was not impressed. But after that, it was only a TV screen for this movie, and not even the widescreen version, either!

But seeing it on the large big screen, finally, for the first time since 1981 (when I couldn't fully appreciate it), was awesome. Like I said, I don't remember it being this funny -or cute. First, funny: What I recall about the humor in this film was the way it was targeted at adolescents. Bathroom humor, mostly. But there is so much more, subtle in some ways, outright funny in others, and it goes from the beginning to the end. Funniest, I think, was the way Elliot motor-mouthed his introduction of E.T. into his world. Showing off all the Star Wars figures was funny, but I loved his line about the fish: "the fish eat the fish food, the shark eats the fish, but nobody eats the shark." E.T. tried to eat the car...

The newly added bathroom scene, with a digital E.T., is the funniest scene in the whole movie. It was always funny to see E.T. later get drunk as he sees all sorts of references about extraterrestrials, like speculation about Grover from Sesame Street, a spaceship and radar in the comics, and a phone commercial, not to mention sniffing and rejecting potato salad (way to go, E.T.!). But to see E.T. climb into the bathtub, gurgle water and bubbles, smiling up at Elliot and repeating the maneuver was priceless. Also, squeezing the toothpaste tube and sniffing the perfume! That scene also broke the cuteness scale! But I wonder what Elliot's mother thought about the Coke spilled all over her night-table and phone...

Speaking of cuteness, E.T. was about as cute as you can get. His wide eyes drew me to him right away. His scaly hide might have given pause before touching it, but didn't seem to bother the kids. I love the way he waddles forward to retrieve the Reese's Pieces, and the way he sneaks into Elliott's room as the boy turns around for a split second is priceless (just like a little kid, or a dog or cat). Even the way he screams all the way back to his spaceship at the beginning (was this a new scene, too?) was amazing.

Hiding with the stuffed animals, playing ghost for Halloween ("thank you" says E.T. -another hilarious scene), and causing the plant to perk up while reading the paper also came close to breaking the cuteness meter!

The story gets more serious when E.T. decides to build his antenna, but is interesting in a different kind of way. Elliot and E.T. have bonded. This is shown early on, when both E.T. and Elliot are drunk, even though Elliot had nothing to drink. So when E.T. gets sick, so does Elliot. both are disheartened that E.T.'s ship has not yet returned.

Which brings us to the part that ruined the perfection of this film. Any time humans other than Elliot, Gertie, Michael and their mother are in the scenes, the film bogs down because of it. It happened to a slight degree in Elliot's classroom, but that was offset by the humor involved in releasing the frogs. The searches for E.T. by the adults were short enough that they didn't affect me too much.

But when the scientists intrude on Elliot's house, and set up an exobiology lab, it is too much. The scientists are too threatening, too methodical, and unnecessarily obscure. I realize that this is taken from a young child's perspective, where people trying to observe beloved E.T. would seem very threatening, and the questions they ask would not make much sense, the answers being obvious. But it seemed to be taken to the extreme. Did we really need the hushed silence when E.T. finally spoke to Elliot in the medical bay? And when E.T. died, why did they immediately remove their filtered masks? Wouldn't the corpse of an alien be just as dangerous if not more so than the living thing?

The director may have thought it was necessary, but I wonder if it couldn't have been done differently, in a friendlier manner. It may be realistic. But I don't like it, and I never have.

But without the feeling of danger, we would never get the brilliant chase that comes after E.T. is revived by the approach of his spaceship. Being linked the way these aliens are (I love the way they all go silent simultaneously when the owl hoots at the beginning!) their return obviously gave him new strength, new life energy, the way Elliot couldn't. The chase by police, and finally sending the bicycle gang into the air, was really, really fun.

The ending, saying goodbye, where even the scientists have the good sense not to interfere, is heartfelt and really jerks at the tears. Aside from E.T., Gertie was also very cute, all the way through the movie, but seeing her lose control at the end was almost too much! I have always thought Drew Barrymore was gorgeous, beautiful and cute, and I notice here that it started a long time ago! I like the way she makes a double wish for E.T. to stay, the way she did with her mother while reading Peter Pan earlier in the movie.

The music was pure John Williams. Completely original and a lot of fun to listen to. However, he does overindulge in the sappy side, especially while trying to elicit tears from the audience when anybody has a revelation, or when E.T. revives.

Still, this movie was amazing. It should really get five stars, because it is heartfelt, and has all the genuine qualities of a good family film. But that one set of scenes with the "scientists" (said with an evil twist to the mouth, similar to the way they were referred to on the V miniseries) really annoyed me, more than usual. Hopefully I will get over it by the time the DVD comes out. Because this is truly a classic, with a completely realistic main character. I swear he was real (even though his healthy skin texture changed sometimes -an artifact of the computer re-sequenced scenes?). And the more real he seems, the more we empathize with him. I certainly did.
 

 

4 stars

January 5th, 1997 on Video for the 7th time  
   

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