Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Epic Films - Fantasy

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Movie Review

film spielberg story steven

1982 – Steven Spielberg –

Steven Spielberg's E.T., which for many years was the highest grossing film of all time, tells the story of a 10-year-old boy (Henry Thomas) who befriends an alien accidently left behind on Earth when his ship takes off without him. After meeting the alien, whom he names “E.T.,” young Elliot sneaks the extraterrestrial being into his house and develops a close relationship with him as he teaches him about life on Earth. Soon E.T. starts working on a way to contact his people so they can return to retrieve him, but that quest is complicated by government scientists who discover the alien's presence and by E.T. becoming deathly ill. Ultimately Elliot must attempt to rescue the little alien if he is to go “home.”

Though, as always, Spielberg's visual skills are fully on display in this film, the heart of E.T.'s success lies in the very personal nature of its story. While it is an epic story of a cosmic traveler trapped far from home trying to find his way back, it is even more an epic story of friendship, loyalty, and family. The most effective scenes in E.T. are small-scale and simple, between the alien and Elliot. E.T. shares the boy's favorite candy, looks at Elliot's toys, dresses up for Halloween to go trick-or-treating with the children, and goes for a magical ride on a bicycle. As might be expected from Spielberg, the film includes its share of fascinating special effects and suspenseful action sequences, but these elements provide only occasional background material in support of a story of two extraordinary friends bonding.

In some respects the movie bears a resemblance to the director's previous “extra-terrestrial” film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in that both introduce “friendly” aliens and characters who in one way or another find emotional and psychological fulfillment in their contact with them, but E.T. is more personal and perhaps more basic in its treatment of human relationships and needs. The film says little that is intellectually profound, yet its success may be best explained in its unique yet simple handling of a universal theme: the need for true friends. Spielberg has sometimes been accused of playing too much to conjured sentimentality, but the sentimentality at the heart of E.T. arises from a well-developed, skillfully portrayed relationship between two individuals who need each other. Though E.T. is the story of a little alien, it is really a genuine story of the human condition.

Cast: Dee Wallace (Mary), Henry Thomas (Elliot), Peter Coyote (Keys), Robert Mac-Naughton (Michael), Drew Barrymore (Gertie), K. C. Martel (Greg), Sean Frye (Steve), Tom Howell (Tyler), Erika Eleniak (Pretty Girl), David M. O'Dell (Schoolboy), Richard Swingler (Science Teacher), Frank Toth (Policeman), Robert Barton (Ultra Sound Man), Michael Durrell (Van Man), David Berkson (Medic) Screenwriter: Melissa Mathison Cinematographer: Allen Daviau Composer: John Williams Producer Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 115 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1982: Visual Effects, Original Score (John Williams); Nominations: Director (Steven Spielberg), Editing, Original Screenplay (Melissa Mathison), Picture, Sound; Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, 1982: Director (Steven Spielberg), Film; National Society of Film Critics Awards, 1982: Director (Steven Spielberg); People's Choice Awards, 1983: Film; Writer's Guild of America, 1982: Original Screenplay (Melissa Mathison) Box Office: $399.8M (domestic gross).

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Movie Review [next] [back] Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or