If I was to make a list of children's films people my age have probably seen during their childhood, E.T. would have been one of them. As a child, I was never really coerced into watching a brown, strange looking thing point his finger and then makes it glow (hence, this blind spot). But I wasn't unaware of E.T.; I think it would be slightly improbable that people not recognize E.T. After all, he is an iconic character himself, and the film is considered to be one of Spielberg's finest. Beside the iconic shot that's used in all promotional items, or anything regarding the film, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial displays a powerful friendship in the eyes of its characters.
The film starts with a spaceship and a few foreign being scurrying around, looking at the different plants within their surroundings. A group of people startled the colony, evidently leaving E.T. behind by accident. In fending for himself, he stumbled into the backyard of Elliot, whom along with his siblings Michael and Gertie, took the alien in. They began to show him the ways of human life, and evidently managed to communicate with E.T. when the alien showed signs of language development. Because of that, E.T. has expressed his desire to go home, in which the trio immediately launched plans to help their new friend. With this being an alien movie, it's inevitable that the people would start looking for E.T. to get their hands on him for further research, prodding the siblings to put E.T. in their protection.
What makes E.T. masterful is that it was able to develop a strong friendship between Elliot and E.T. The writing has managed to exemplify the stages of their relationship, and adding the empathic link between the two, it allowed Elliot to fully convey the feelings of E.T., something only he can understand. The two have formed such a bond that they have become inseparable - and the latter half of the film solidifies their friendship. It was hard not to be moved by them, as well as the strong protection that Michael and Gertie have over E.T., as they have learned to love and enjoy his company. It's because of all the emotions running in the second half, that E.T. becomes heart-wrenching during the latter half, even when you're aware that it will have a happy ending.
While most would probably consider the iconic shot of E.T. and Elliot flying over the moon (which was well-played out) as their favorite scene, I would have to go with another scene, when E.T. and Elliot were lying near each other, and due to their link, both were experiencing a kind of death, until E.T. willingly 'disconnected' his link with Elliot in order to save him. When Elliot was delivering his lines for E.T. to stay, I felt that the scene was quite mature and emotional. It can be argued if E.T. had actual emotions or not, but I thought that the deed was selfless. Not to mention, watching a friend die in front of you, was gut wrenching. This was also partly the reason why the final scene was very moving.
Henry Thomas gave a fine performance as Elliot. He was neither too over the top, nor was he coming off unemotional. He knew where to position himself in certain situations, which made the transitions and the development of his relationship with E.T. come naturally. While he did give a good performance, I understood why audiences would look at Drew Barrymore. At such a young age, she was naturally talented, always brightening the screen with her appearance. She was able to enjoy some screen time with E.T., even having a profound moment with him. _, who plays Michael, also gave a good performance.
The score certainly added to the tone and the mood of the film, aiding certain scenes to allow the intensity to come out. This was primarily exhibited in the flying scenes, which really added to the wonder and the feeling of hope and awe that the scene had. The story was also well-written; without the writers throwing in much content and explanation for E.T. and his existence, the film can really shift its focus to the friendship, which was the spirit of the film. The story gave ample time for the transitions, allowing events to naturally fall in place, though the film is set in a span of days.
Steven Spielberg may be known for many franchises, but E.T. deserves a spot of his glory. It's impossible not to be moved by the story and the way that Spielberg brought the film to life. The film may not be flawless, but this is one of the director's excellent and timeless works.
Cast: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote
Director: Steven Spielberg