Originally released in 1982, E.T. is still a much loved and respected film from the prolific Steven Spielberg. Since the story is about a young boy and the alien he encounters it is generally classified as a kids film, but really it is a film that appeals to people of all ages.
A spaceship full of alien creatures lands one night in a forest somewhere in California, it’s purpose to collect samples of plant life for analysis. Unfortunately the aliens work is interrupted by the arrival of a group of humans, investigating the lights seen in the sky. The spaceship beats a hasty retreat, leaving one of the aliens behind in the rush. Startled by the noise of cars and the flashing of torch beams the alien creature runs away, finding refuge in the garage of a house in the suburbs of a nearby town.
A young boy called Elliott who lives in the house comes out to collect a pizza from the delivery man, and hears a noise from the garage. He goes to investigate, and ends up staring face to face with the alien visitor, who we finally see properly for the first time. The alien is a funny squat little brown creature, with a long extending neck and a strange bulbous head comprised of two huge eyes and a tiny nose and mouth. After initially being a bit scared, Elliott plucks up courage and late that night, lures the alien into his bedroom with a trail of sweets.
The next day, Elliott pretends to be sick so that he can stay home from school to learn more about this funny little creature, but time flies, and he is soon interrupted by the return from school of his younger sister Gertie, and his older brother Michael, and has to let them in on his secret. The children have lots of questions for the alien, but since it can’t speak it instead answers by way of one of it’s special powers, levitating various objects in an effort to build a model of the solar system to illustrate where it comes from. It also brings a dying pot plant back to life with a touch of it’s glowing finger.
Inadvertantly, Gertie teaches the alien to speak by watching Sesame Street, and soon the alien has named itself E.T., being short for Extra Terrestrial. It also becomes apparent that E.T. has formed some kind of psychic link with Elliott, as when the alien starts to help himself to beer from the fridge and becomes intoxicated, so does Elliott, despite being at school at the time.
However, E.T. really wants to return to his own people, so he constructs an odd communication device using household implements such as an umbrella and a Speak & Spell toy, sparking the famous quote “E.T. Phone Home“. Elliott helps E.T. transport the device to the woods on his bike, and E.T. helps him get home again by levitating his bike through the sky, thus creating the iconic image of the silhouetted bicycle against the full moon, which is still used by Spielberg today as the logo of Amblin Entertainment.
Unfortunately things start to go wrong, with E.T. disappearing one night and Elliott starting to become sick. Michael finds E.T. in the woods and returns him to Elliott, but the government have already tracked the family down and put the entire house into quarantine, covering it in plastic sheeting and the like. After examinations from doctors and scientists, it finally appears that E.T. has died, and Elliott begins to regain his health. However, the imminent return of E.T.’s spaceship brings him back to life, and Elliott manages to escape from the house on his bicycle with E.T., and after another flying bicycle trip they manage to return to the forest in time for E.T. to be reunited with his own people.
E.T. is a wonderful film for all the family. It covers such a wide range of emotions and conveys many messages such as family values, friendship, acceptance of others and even fear of government and it’s seeming ultimate power over peoples lives. Watch it again, but for a real memory lane trip, make sure you watch the original version, not the 20th anniversary which replaces some of the original E.T. model work with computer generated effects.