E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)


My father loves to tell me the story that when E.T. finally came to our small town of Quincy, Illinois. I was old enough to recognize who E.T was and my dad took me and my older sister to see the film. I fell asleep early on in the movie before the lovable alien makes his appearance, only to wake up later when he was on the screen. I got so excited that I jumped up in my dads lap, pointed at the screen and yelled at the top of my lungs “E.T, E.T, E.T!!!!” I was very excited to see the film as a young kid, but then, for me at least, the movie fell off my radar.

I knew all about E.T. growing up, knew about the Reeses Pieces and “E.T. phone home” but never had much desire to rewatch what I perceived was a typical children’s film. In my late teens, I started going through all Spielberg’s movies in chronological order. When I got to E.T., I was not really excited to watch it, but my girlfriend was and she popped in the laserdisc (this was obviously way before the DVD was out) and I instantly fell in love again.

E.T. is an amazing creation and at the heart of a fantastic film.

E.T. is one of, if not my favorite family films. The movie just makes me happy and everything in the film works perfectly. The kid actors are really good and Drew Barrymore’s Gertie might be the cutest and least annoying “cute kid” in film history. E.T, even though he looks like a peanut covered in brown slime, is very lovable and doesn’t have to try hard to do it he is lovable because he is what he is. Spielberg again shows why he is a world class director with the use of his angle of shots, lighting and ways he staged the action.

Every time I watch this movie, I laugh, I tear up (even though I know E.T. will pull through) and I get goose bumps during the bicycle flight scene. I can’t wait until my kids are a year or two older, because I want them to watch this film and love it the way that I do. I believe that everyone’s favorite films hit them in many different ways at the same time. One crucial element in loving a film is that the film must take you away into the world the creators are designing and this is hard to do without a very memorable score.

Take a moment and think about some of your favorite films, think of some of the favorite scenes from that film. Is a musical cue important to the scene? I love Up, but would it have been as emotionally powerful without the Oscar winning score? Would Royal Tenenbaums, Pulp Fiction, or The Graduate work as well with different songs? E.T. is no different and I think John Williams deserves credit for making a truly memorable film along with Spielberg, the cast and the writer. John Williams has written some of the most memorable scores in the last 35 years: Jaws, Superman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and many more.

Yet I believe his best work is E.T.The music during the scene where Elliott and E.T are flying across the sky in the bicycle is the perfect example of sight, sound, motion and emotion. The excitement builds, the scene gets grander and the music swells to a point where it is magical. Like I stated earlier, I have seen this movie eight or nine times and every time I hear the music and see the silhouette of the bike across the moon, I get goosebumps.

I believe why this movie was such a hit back in 1982 ($350 million, $1.1 billion adjusted for inflation) was because it captured the time and feel of America better than most movies were trying to. I can’t count how many films deal with youth who don’t act like any kid in the world, as they act more like what the writer or director was like when they were a kid or their idea of what a kid should be like.


In E.T. the kids act like kids and talk about and do what was popular at the time. They had Star Wars toys, they watched TV, they were children of the early 80’s. This movie is a time capsule of what it was like to grow up during that time period and kids back then saw themselves reflected in the film and they loved it.

Now, 28 years later, kids that were born way after and adults who grew up during that time can watch the movie and have a feeling about what life was like at that time or get nostalgic for their childhood. E.T. makes it 2 for 2 on movies that were the biggest thing of the year that I loved.

Were blockbuster movies back then much better than today or does my childhood love rub off on me without me even knowing it? Since both this and Raiders were nominated for many awards when they came out, I can say that both years, Spielberg caught lightning  in a bottle and made films that were loved then, loved now and probably be loved for countless years to come.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Directed by Steven Spielberg Starring a cute little alien, oh yes he is, would you like some Reeses Pieces little Mr. Alien?

Posted by Ryan

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