1 Year, 100 Movies: #24 E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E_t_the_extra_terrestrial_ver3For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” or just “E.T.” as everyone has come to know and love it is a brilliant film. It tells the story of Elliot, the middle child in a divorced family who is lonely and in need of friends. He discovers and befriends an alien dubbed ‘E.T.’ The film shows their connection, and utlimaely the lessons that they teach one another- and how the situation helps the family who is still recovering from the recent divorce.

The film opens on a group of alien botanists collecting flora samples from a California forest. US Government agents show up, and the aliens take off quickly in their spaceship, accidentally leaving one of their own behind. Meanwhile we see 10 year old Elliot (Henry Thomas), trying like he must have hundreds of times before to fit in with his older 16 year old brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and his friends. As he brings back pizza, he notices somthing hiding in the tool shed behind their house that flees when he goes to investigate. No one believes his story of a ‘goblin’- but later he is able to lure the alien into his bedroom using a trail of Reeces’ Pieces candy.

Elliot and the alien start creating a bond that evening as the alien mimicks Elliot’s movements. The next day Elliot feigns illness to be able to spend more time with the alien. Later that afternoon after school, Elliot’s siblings Michael and his younger sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) meet the alien. They are both frightened at first, and then grow to like the alien. The shot choices in the closet definitely push the emotional content of the moment- there is a sense of the skeptical wonder that both children and alien feel towards one another.

The kids keep the alien, dubbed E.T., a secret from their mother, Mary (Dee Wallace) and join up with Elliott to protect E.T. from the men that pursue him. Because E.T. has an exceptionally limited vocabulary, he speaks to Elliott mostly through an emotional and psychological link that they share. After everything, we find out there aren’t any bad guys in “E.T.” The head of the Gov. agency that captures the alien, Keys (Peter Coyote) turns out to just be a grown up kid, looking for his old pal, and the scientists try to save E.T. The ending is heartwarming- and hopefully bolsters Elliot’s confidence.

What I thought was pretty amazing was that the crew shot at a redwood forest near Crescent City, CA for the production’s last six days. This is exactly where my friend Anna and I were at for part of our trip to the Pacific Northwest earlier this year! What is even more incredible- Spielberg shot the film in roughly chronological order to achieve convincingly emotional performances from his cast. In the scene in which Michael first encounters the alien, the creature’s appearance caused MacNaughton to jump back and knock down the shelves behind him. It’s a great method, and worked to perfection in this film.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

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One response to “1 Year, 100 Movies: #24 E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

  1. Pingback: 1 Year, 100 Movies: #8 Schindler’s List (1993) | thegreentreeischirping

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