Thursday, August 21, 2014

Retro Review: E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982)

                                   'E.T.': A Sci-Fi Classic Of Astronomical Proportions
              In my mind, what makes a film a classic in general and not just in its specific genre, is a film that not only has the mechanics of a great film: direction, acting, story, score, etc., but a film that manages to weave in elements of different genres while demonstrating its own so that in can appeal to a wider audience. Plus, some added humanistic drama. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial certainly has those makings of a great classic and might hopefully inspire me to make a classic of my own.

 E.T. The Extra Terrestrial follows the story of a young boy named Elliot (Henry Thomas) who, while in his backyard, discovers a tiny alien that he calls "E.T.". E.T. not only befriends Elliot, but becomes acquainted with his siblings Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and Michael (Robert McNaughton). Over the course of this alien's stay, Elliot starts to develop a special physical connection to him.

   Now, for this part of the review, I won't just discuss what I liked about the film, but also use it for an analysis of its themes, which I will start with. Now, because Elliot and E.T. have a psychic connection, to me, it makes E.T. seem like a representation of Elliot's father. Not only does the film deal with the titular alien, but Elliot copes with the divorce of his parents as well. So, I feel that possibly E.T. represents the father that Elliot badly wants to come back home. One scene that I feel demonstrates this is the one where Elliot cuts himself and E.T. uses his special light to heal him, like any parent would do if their child injured themselves. Steven Spielberg himself said the film draws inspiration from his own parents' divorce. The film also deals with the theme of loneliness. Elliot is not a child of divorce, but is an outcast at his school, or "alienated" so the actual alien serves as his best friend. So, E.T. is like both a father and a friend to Elliot and I thought that was quite fascinating.

   Next, I'll get into what I actually liked about the film. First off, I thought the design of E.T. looked genius and realistic since animatronics and such were used to create it. I also thought the score by John Williams was spectacular, especially the famous theme where E.T. and Elliot are flying on the bike. The direction by Mr. Steven Spielberg was brilliant, of course. One thing I liked about his direction was his use of lighting, like in the scene where E.T.'s finger lights and heals Elliot's finger. As I said, I felt that scene was rather symbolic of the father-son relationship those two have and when E.T. presses his finger on Elliot's, it is like they have the "same light". Plus, the scenes where E.T. and Elliot are flying on the bike looked quite realistic, even if they were more than likely green-screened. I also have to give major props to the writer Melissa Mathison for creating such a well-realized story. It manages to not only be a sci-fi film grounded in reality, but a coming-of-age story as well as a tearjerker with some comedy thrown into the mix.


   Overall, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial is an amazingly complex family classic that assemble's a sci-fi film's essentials to perfection: Direction, thought-provoking sci-fi, score, etc. It will make you laugh, yet might also make you cry (seriously, if you don't cry at the end of this movie, you might need to check your pulse). I would recommend this to everybody, both young and old, especially since this is a classic for the ages.

Grade: A+