Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Cutting Edges: "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial" (1982) Film Review

Fig 1: Film Poster

Steven Spielberg's “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” (1982) is a heartwarming tale of a space alien who befriends a small boy called Elliot (Fig 2) , who then go on a quest to return E.T. (Fig 3) to his home. “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” is a film that the majority of children, adults and older people alike have seen at least once in their lifetime – it’s a classic feature that pulls at the heart strings, and as Roger Ebert rightfully states, “E.T.” is a film: “that you can grow up with and grow old with, and it won’t let you down.” Ebert, 2002. 

Agreeably, “It is quite possibly the best known of all Steven Spielberg films” (Bernardinelli, S.D). The inclusion of Spielberg's camera work, the realistic puppet of E.T. itself, and enchanting music create a film that resonates in the viewers mind long after the credits roll. 

Fig 2: Elliot, Gertie and Michael looking at E.T.

 Surprisingly, Spielberg describes “E.T.” as one of his most personal films: “This film, so universal in its appeal, has been described by Spielberg has his most personal picture [...] Spielberg's own childhood is mirrored by that of lonely young Elliot, abandoned by his father, raised by his working mother, growing up in a suburban subdivision”  (SDG, S.D). Perhaps this deep connection with Speilbergs own life experience reflected in a successful motion picture. 

Much like Spielberg's earlier Sci-Fi film, “Close Encounters of The Third Kind” (1977), “E.T.” is not a story of frightening aliens determined to slaughter all of mankind and/or overpower them; rather it’s again the total opposite: E.T. appears as a short, stubby and tubby character charmed with innocence and intelligence, and quickly befriends an equally innocent and lonely boy. SGD also describes E.T as: “a strange combination of wise old man, baby brother, and best friend.” SGD

Fig 3: Bicycle ride

An interesting observation is that, for the majority of the film, until near the end, the male characters faces are never shown ; they are either darkened by a deep shadow or cut off by the camera view. This clever action implies the lack of Elliot's father being present, and in a way, E.T. replaces the father. Marc Lee points out: “The hole left by dad is filled by a short, dumpy, big-eyed creature from a faraway planet.” (Lee, 2014)

Fig 4: E.T. nearing death

Intriguingly, there is a spiritual and quite a religions connection in this feature: E.T.’s glowing finger is an echo of Michelangelo's painting, “Creation of Adam”; much like the story of Jesus, E.T. comes back to life after death and finally, E.T. departs up into the heavens, telling Elliot “I’ll be right here”.
Elliott and E.T. also share a physical and mental connection, shown as E.T. drinks beer and becomes drunk, so does Elliot while at school; E.T. watches a movie where a couple kiss and simultaneously Elliot kisses a girl, and during a heartbreaking moment where E.T. is dying, Elliot is slowly dying too. The sci-fi elements include E.T.’s telekinesis that move objects with his mind, making the bicycles fly and his heart glowing when close to his people. 

Fig 5: E.T. hugs Elliot goodbye
James Bernardinelli wraps up “E.T.” as: “a tear-jerker and a feel-good experience rolled into one” (Bernardinelli, S.D). Adding to this is a innocent and comedic value, including the scene where E.T. is dressed up in a wig and feminine clothes, and is draped with a white sheet on Halloween and thinking someone in a Yoda costume is one if his kind.

A pinnacle of cinema, “E.T.” is a delightful film that is enjoyed over and over again.   


Bernardinelli, J. (S.D) reelviews (Accessed on 01/03/16) http://www.reelviews.net/reelviews/e-t  
Ebert, R. (2002) rogerebert.com (Accessed on 01/03/16)
 SDG. (S.D) decentfilms (Accessed on 01/03/16) http://decentfilms.com/reviews/et http://decentfilms.com/reviews/et

Illustration List

Fig 2: "Elliot, Gertie and Michael looking at E.T." (Accessed on 01/03/16) http://deadshirt.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/et_the_extra-terrestrial_21.png
Fig 5: "E.T. hugs Elliot goodbye" (Accessed on 01/03/16) http://imgartists.com/uploads/artist_images/ET_Elliott_Hug_1.jpg