movie film review | chris tookey

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

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  E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Review
Tookey's Rating
10 /10
Average Rating
9.26 /10
Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas , Peter Coyote
Full Cast >

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Melissa Mathison

Released: 1980
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 115

An alien befriends a small boy (Henry Thomas).
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Great fantasy films notoriously lose out at the Oscars. The decision to overlook E.T. seems even more ridiculous than it did then. It was re-released in 2002 with a few technological tweaks and the insertion of a charming new scene where E.T. plays in the bath. But the main point about the film is that - like other imperishable classics of cinema, such as Casablanca and It's A Wonderful Life - it never fails to work emotionally.

E.T. was one of the most successful films of all time at the box office: it grossed over $700 million worldwide, to say nothing of merchandising spin-offs. Many have tried to explain its success in terms of its being an updated Lassie film. Really, it's a new twist on The Wizard of Oz and looks forward to a more candid statement of its theme in another big hit of the 80s, Home Alone. Just like Dorothy, E.T. knows there is no place like home - something that Elliott, who comes from a broken one, has to learn, just like Kevin in Home Alone.

Henry Thomas delivers a terrific performance as the little boy searching for emotional contact after the loss of his father, and Spielberg's style of shooting (mostly from child's eye level) encourages us to see events from his point of view. This is, above all, a celebration of childhood, of openness to new emotional experiences.

One American columnist fulminated against it on release for promoting "subversive" ideas, namely "Children are people. Adults are not. Science is sinister." Censors in Sweden , Finland and Norway even ruled that E.T. was unfit for child audiences because "the film portrays adults as enemies of children". It's certainly true that Steven Spielberg's film portrays grown-ups in an unflattering, even nightmarish light.

But it is also a masterpiece of story-telling. The special effects, including E.T. himself, are stupendous, as is John Williams' stirring score. Re-experiencing this movie only brings out the film's extraordinary humanity, depth of feeling, lyricism and richness of symbolism.

Less frenetic than most Hollywood films nowadays, it has a wonderful sense of pace. Spielberg knows when to allow the story room to breathe, and he never patronises his audience, even though this is unashamedly a film for all the family. Every child should see it, and adults who re-visit it will find themselves crying all over again.

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