There are those handful of precious, important films that have undeniably shaped countless childhoods. Steven Spielberg’s childlike view of an alien encounter is one of them. E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL has already touched the heart of generations of young moviegoers and it’s barely over three decades old.
We all know the story: Elliot, a lonely kid living in suburban California, who’s room is chock full of the toys he plays with to substitute his lack of friends, comes across a shy Alien in his backyard. At first both are scared, but soon Elliot realizes the creature’s gentle nature and befriends him. Quickly the two develop a strong bond of friendship and Elliot decides to hide the alien, who he calls E.T., from his mother.
One of the most ingenious, imaginative, heartfelt, unpretentious science-fiction films ever made, E.T. makes the bold choice telling a direct story in a simple way.
Screenwriter Melissa Mathison uses restraint in her narrative that gives the film such a direct emotional impact and Spielberg, who famously decided to shoot almost every shot at the level of a child, embraces her gentle approach. And then there’s John Williams beyond classic score and Henry Thomas’ iconic lead performance. Then there’s E.T. himself: Brought to life by a practical combination of ingenuity and technology.
While most sci-fi films since its release have been bogged down by CGI, E.T. remains a brilliant example that all the computer wizardry in the world means nothing if you don’t care on an emotional level. E.T. will always live in our hearts of moviegoers, both young and old, because it makes us care – and care deeply.