Film Nerd’s Choice: E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Drew Barrymore
Synopsis: Elliott is a lonely boy from a broken home, who one day discovers an alien hiding in his backyard. He forms a strong bond with this alien, and helps him make a very important long distant phone call…
Okay, so having already listed the Lord of the Rings as my favourite film in this 30 day film challenge, technically perhaps that should occupy this spot. However, I think repeating a film for this challenge would be just plain lazy, so I decided to get more creative. I could have also chosen any of the ten Trek films that have not yet appeared in an entry here, but having been a sci-fi fanatic for many years, I thought I really had to get serious about this post. So I delved into my personal history to rediscover this gem.
Thew simple fact is, despite the film being dated and the iconic images being ingrained in the consciousness of western culture (I mean, seriously, the above poster is not instantly recognisable??), the simple fact is that this remains a strong film that loses none of the power it had in childhood, and in fact resonates to greater levels for an older audience rediscovering it. There were subplots and thematic concerns that completely escaped me as a child, which now have significant impact.
When remembering that E.T. wants to phone home and that he can make bicycles fly, this is more fundamentally a film of two lost souls discovering and helping each other, so that they can both find their path home to comfort and safety. Elliott is clearly missing the presence of his father, and E.T., while not replacing this role, at least fills a void in Elliott’s life. Of course, he cannot stick around forever, but his presence teaches life lessons that by the end of the film help pull together pieces of a family that is holding on by a thread. It is a story of true friendship, and the risks and sacrifices that one would make if the friendship is truly significant. So even without the clichéd images, it is a very strong film.
In this commentary though, I by no means wish to downplay the iconic moments. It is truly a film filled with great visual and aural wonders. The visual effects are timeless… what kid hasn’t dreamt of flight, or healing simply with a touch. When the fugly but cute alien starts speaking, it is a truly awe inducing moment. Then to have his plea to phone home tinges the film with heart in the midst of all this wonder. Then to have all this topped off by one of John Williams’ most memorable scores (and when you are talking of the guy who composed for Star Wars, Superman, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Jaws, that is saying something). The music itself seems to capture the wonder and the joy of freewheeling flight.
This film does not put a foot wrong, and is a true classic for the ages.
5 stars out of 5.