Steven Spielberg is, arguably, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. He is the visionary behind such films as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, and Schindler’s List. But, in my opinion, his masterpiece will always by the 1982 classic, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. The highest grossing film of that year, E.T. was a world wide phenomenon and earned several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Though it did not win, E.T. has withstood the test of time.
By today’s standards, E.T. would be considered childish. It would probably be released on Netflix or Disney Plus, lost in a sea of big budget blockbusters that owe their very existence to Spielberg. Reactors on YouTube wouldn’t make half hour long videos discussing their theories about the film. There aren’t any major action scenes. There’s barely even a villain. E.T. is a film about family, love, friendship, and wonder, topics that very rarely attract the attention if an increasingly impatient audience.
And that is why E.T. is one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s tells a simple story about a boy named Elliott who is struggling after his parents’ recent separation. Actor Henry Thomas does an excellent job portray Elliott’s loneliness. He has two siblings: an older brother, Michael, and a younger sister Gertie, but his relationship with them at the beginning of the film is strained.
That all changes when he meets E.T., an alien abandoned by his family after a near fatal run-in with government officials. Elliott makes it his mission to help E.T. return home. Throughout the film, the two grow close and become telepathically connected. E.T also helps Elliott develop a better relationship with both his brother and sister. E.T. makes each child better and fills the void left by their father.
E.T. has one of my favorite scenes of all time: Elliott and E.T. flying past the moon on a beautiful autumn night. That single shot, accompanied by John Williams’ triumphant score, exemplifies the magic and wonder of childhood; how everything seems larger than life. And how outer space is both awe inspiring and scary at the same time.
At the film’s conclusion, E.T. and Elliott are forced to part ways. It’s a bittersweet ending to a wonderful film, but satisfying at the same time. We know that E.T. and Elliott will never forget one another. They helped each other out when they needed it the most. Even though they will go on with their lives, there will always be a part of them that belongs to the other. Most films released today fail when it comes to endings. They want to shock you with unearned twists and turns. E.T. ends the way it should and that’s beautiful and sad, just like childhood itself.
E.T is one of those films that makes me cry every time I watch it. It helps keep me from being too cynical and reminds me that life is still full of wonder, even in the darkest times.