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E.T. (1982-2002)


From IMDB:

A group of Earth children help a stranded alien botanist return home.

25 years old and still strong as ever.

I’m not going to go into detail about what this film is about. Unless you have lived under a rock your whole life you know well enough what the story of E.T. is all about, but there is much more meaning brought to the screen that what the story can even tell.

It’s is probably one of, if not the best film to have come out of an era that had Cindy Lauper, Boy George, The Pet Shop Boys, Bananarama, and Madonna as cultural music icons that were shaping a country. The 80’s were known for so many things that were of bad taste and fun at the same time. It was a time of cultural experimentation not only in the music industry but with films as well. We really had some films that shaped a countries identity in the 80’s as much as any other time in film history. Star Wars (the original trilogy) was finished, Rocky kept becoming more invincible, every kid that saw ‘The Goonies’ wanted to be one, and we were introduced to Indiana Jones. The list is much bigger than what I really have time to put all in one post. I could actually build a whole blog separately on how the 80’s shaped a culture.

E.T. was one of the milestones that raised the bar for a lot of production companies to have to follow. This movie was even billed that it might bomb by Universal and was only alloted $10 million dollars for total production cost because it was a children’s movie. To date it has grossed $435,110,554. Dollar for dollar the most successful film ever created and it didn’t get that way by accident. It was done through brilliant story telling, a great score that moved things along wonderfully (of course this was done by John Williams and that must have been one big favor considering the budget) , a very believable and touching cast of kids that lit up the screen, and the love of Steven Spielberg for this film. It all combined to make cinematic magic. This was the type of film that a sequel would have ruined things for. E.T. simply was… and it was strong enough to stand on it’s own 2 feet without needing to build a whole franchise on it. To make subsequent and irrelevant sequels would have done nothing but to hurt E.T.

Not to say that there weren’t E.T. lunch boxes, Underoos, blankets, sheets, and pillow cases. There were also stuffed dolls, a very poor Atari 2600 game and wall paper. E.T. was everywhere that you looked when it was released and the merchandise was there to let all the kids feel closer to that lovable little alien that graced the screen so clumsily.

When the 20th anniversary edition was issued in 2002 there was a lot of wonder about what Spielberg was to have done to make this movie fresh again for new audiences. He didn’t mess with the story line or do anything flashy. He simply enhanced a few scenes with E.T. digitally to make him a more robust character and this worked really well. For the first time an audience was able to see facial expressions and actions that just couldn’t be obtained naturally with animatronics. E.T.’s interaction with his environment was made all the more believable.

If there ever was truly a movie that needed to be passed on to generations that will love to look at it for the first time then it is this one. It may be difficult to remember how I felt when I saw it as a child but looking through the eyes of my children brings it to a whole new light for me. Even after 25 years they can still enjoy something that was new when their father was a child. It’s this kind of film that can define a generation with it’s cultural reference and staying power is proof of the pertinence that it can bestow for generations to come.

This is a film I don’t own though alas, but I have no problem of sharing the experience with my family by renting it though. If this is the kind of film that your kids will want to watch again and again than I would suggest buying a copy. That’s a no-brainer and I know you have to be scratching your head wondering what crack I must be smoking to even have to suggest how people should purchase their movies. At the very least give your kids the gift of something that they can cherish in their childhood memories one way or the other.

This movie gets 4.5/5 stars