Let's talk about E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Solaris, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight Thread Starter

    New Orleans, LA
    I rewatched this last night after I don't know how many years and with all this hindsight I noticed quite a few things I had never realized before.

    First, what an odd little film. By turns dreamlike, comic, romantic and preposterous, Spielberg is on a high wire here. I've never embraced this film like so many have, even though I was 12 when it was released and was the target audience, but I can appreciate it for the way it's made.

    Which brings me to the cinematography. I think, shot for shot, this film may have as much fog/smog/smoke as Blade Runner, which famously came out the same year. Nearly every interior daylight shot in the family's house is filled with a glowing haze. It works visually, but if you think about it, it's just silly. Regardless, it's a damn good looking movie, with lots of shots that have become part of the popular consciousness.

    Did I mention the comic element? It's a lot funnier than I remembered, and I laughed at (among other things) the reveal of how Gertie dressed ET in the closet. While some scenes are practically slapstick, the humor leavens the sentimentality effectively. That sentimentality is what I most often have a problem with in Spielberg's narratives but I'm surprised to say it's not as cloying here as I had recalled. (Although I've never cared for the "drunk Elliot" scene, I found the kiss at the end works remarkably well.)

    Finally, there's the score. I had my parents buy me the LP as soon as it came out and absorbed it via headphones long before I actually saw the film. I suspect this may be one of the reasons I'm not as big a fan of the movie as some are, because in soaking up that music as it was configured for the album, I internalized an emotional narrative that was similar but different to the one in the film. It's no news to anyone, however, that Williams' score fills this movie with a life it would not otherwise have had. It's brooding, delicate, tender, wondrous, triumphant and inspiring, often carrying the story in the absence of any dialogue. (I fully admit to having no objectivity about this music.) At their best together, Spielberg and Williams create the fabled "pure cinema" of sound + vision.

    I was more jazzed about seeing Blade Runner and Star Trek II in 1982, and I've watched those two far more times than I have ET, but I find it hard to ignore this movie. It casts a long shadow, as we're currently seeing in the Netflix show Stranger Things.
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  2. CrazyCatz

    CrazyCatz Great shot kid. Don't get cocky!

    Midlands UK
    Lets hope they DON'T Reboot/remake it.. .. I like it just way it is, and don't think tha Magic can be replicated with all Movies..

    Dude111, bluejeanbaby, Galley and 2 others like this.
  3. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident

    I fell in love with ET. I dated a girl who said she couldn't understand why people like "that worm" so much. I knew then she wasn't for me and I was right. How could you not fall in love with ET?

    Please don't bring up Stranger Things in an E.T. thread! Ha! Look at the way Spielberg handles the dialog between kids in ET and how it's directed in Stranger Things. Spielberg's feel real and natural. Overlapping dialog. Spunky and punky. A bad words making mom laugh. Stranger Things kids felt ... canned. I started rewatching Stranger Things thinking my 14 year old would like it. He didn't. But I did notice the Duffer Bros. episode were a hundred times better than the ones directed by Shawn Levy. He ruined that show.
    CCrider92, Drifter and Oatsdad like this.
  4. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    I was 5 when I first saw it (on VHS) and the "Elliot thinks E.T has died" scene made me cry like a baby because I was so invested in the character and the story.

    Yes, it's an emotionally manipulative film, but it's a good one. It has an outstanding John Williams score. :)

    Oh yeah, and the Michael Jackson E.T storybook and record is pretty cool, too. :)

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  5. Silken

    Silken Forum Resident

    I watched ET for the first time at school (maybe for student's day?) when I was about 8 years old. Then I asked my parents to rent it. My younger sister was obsessed with it and made me watch it countless times (we rented it for several weeks in a row!!) and then I fell in love with it too. I still watch it every time it's on TV and I think it has aged well, BUT I've never watched it in the original language!!! (I'm from a Spanish-speaking country). I have to fix that.

    And yes, I'll bring Stranger Things to this thread. In one of the first scenes, when the guys are playing in Mike's basement, it reminded me of Elliott's brother and friends eating pizza and calling the radio station.
  6. daca

    daca Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    I know I'm going to get a lot of hate for this but I don't care: The only thing worse than the video game, was the movie. Steven Spielberg's worst film.

    I can say this is one film that I will never watch again. Thank you Spielberg for stealing 114 minutes of my life that I will never get back. Done talking about this POS.

    [/End of Soap Box Rant]

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  7. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    Much like the game, reading this post was "the pits". :)
  8. Vinyl Addict

    Vinyl Addict Forum Resident

    I bet I still have that game in my mom's basement/attic somewhere.
    CrazyCatz likes this.
  9. sparkydog

    sparkydog Forum Resident

    Calling E.T. a "POS" is just silly. I disliked Interstellar a lot, for example, but I could never call a film that ambitious and technically brilliant a "POS".
  10. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    If the game wasn't so buggy it wouldn't be too bad... but it is. :(
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  11. Monosterio

    Monosterio Forum Resident

    South Florida
    As you probably remember, Solaris, I love this movie. Thanks for the nice words about it. :wave:
    Manimal, Solaris and CrazyCatz like this.
  12. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident

    Jersey City, NJ
    I saw the movie back in the day after I heard all the rave reviews. It couldn't live up to the hype I heard.
  13. fishcane

    fishcane Forum Resident

    Like Close Encounters, I seem to enjoy these movies more for the nostalgic view of American life it gives us now that we are so far removed from "those days"
    HiFi Guy 008 likes this.
  14. Wayne Hubbard

    Wayne Hubbard Forum Resident

    Was about 6 or 7 when it came out. The first movie I saw in a theater. Before that it was always the drive-in.
    Haven't watched the movie since. But, I was a fan of the book "sequel" that came out.

  15. EddieVanHalen

    EddieVanHalen Well-Known Member

    E.T. is one of the best movies I've seen so far. I was only 8 when it came out and my parents took me to the cinema to watch it. It set two first for me, it was the first time a movie got my emotions really out and made me cry, and it was also the first time I paid attention to a movie soundtrack which still to this date is my favourite soundtrack of all time and made me buy my first SACD player when the E.T. soundtrack was released on this format for the 20th anniversary.
    I think it's a real visual beauty also,masterfully shot.
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  16. Solaris

    Solaris a bullet in flight Thread Starter

    New Orleans, LA
    I welcome contrarian opinions, and you'll notice mine isn't full of unqualified praise either. I admire how well made (for the most part) the film is without actually loving it. In that spirit, I'd like to hear why you don't like E.T. It's almost unanimously fawned over, and I think we need intelligent critiques of what doesn't necessarily work.

    One scene in particular that nags at me is when the mother (Dee Wallace) comes home with the groceries and somehow doesn't see E.T. even as Gertie talks about him being in the same damn room. There's one shot in the scene where the mom passes right by and practically looks right at E.T. and...nothing. This is one of those incredibly bad tropes in TV and movies predicated on believing that characters onscreen have no peripheral vision. Absurd, and something that should be far beneath Spielberg and this movie, but there it is.

    There's also the near-camp scene of the government characters in astronaut (!) costumes lumbering into the house through the curtains like Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's monster. I don't remember how this looked when I was 12, but as an adult I find it silly.

    George Will famously panned E.T., charging that it promoted three subversive ideas: children are people, adults are not, science is sinister. As physicist Wolfgang Pauli is once rumored to have said about a student's paper, "This isn't right. This isn't even wrong!" Will's is the kind of alternate-universe critique I won't tolerate, but any reasonable discussion has a home here.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
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  17. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    I didn't really care for the sequel...

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  18. malcolm reynolds

    malcolm reynolds Forum Resident

    Been 20 some years since I have seen the film but this thread just made me order the BD.
    Ghostworld likes this.
  19. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    I miss the E.T Adventure ride at Universal Studios where he'd say your name at the end. :)
    Sammy Banderas and Texastoyz like this.
  20. Vahan

    Vahan Forum Resident

    Glendale, CA, USA
    IMDB says there was originally a scene in theaters where E.T. draws a piece of chalk in thin air. Is that right? Are there any 35mm/16mm copies in collectors' hands to prove it?
  21. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    I can't find any evidence of it existing... which doesn't mean it wasn't in the film, but I can't see why they'd remove it for the home video release.
  22. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Forum Resident

    Let's do. Great movie. We even studied it in film class. Good times.
  23. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    I think the use of fog machines for diffusion kind of peaked in movies of the early 1980s, though it sailed on for a few years in the world of music videos.

    I think like several Spielberg movies that took place in contemporary times, E.T. hasn't aged well. There's a lot of creaky stuff about kids' attitudes and bikes and games and all that stuff that very much makes the film a product of 1982. It is what it is. Having said that, I think it's extraordinarily well-made for its time, even though the heavy manipulation through editing and music does kind of make the audience feel like a puppet. "Sad music! Time to cry now!" Surprise head turn... something shocking is about to happen!" Even that doesn't bother me.
    Tree of Life likes this.
  24. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    Here's a bit of trivia- apparently the producers approached the Mars candy company about using M&Ms in the movie but they turned them down because they thought the movie would be a flop.

    So then they went to Hershey who agreed to let Reese's Pieces be used, and the rest is history.

    Has anyone seen my Speak 'n Spell? :)

    Here's a commercial for some of the toys

  25. The Hud

    The Hud No More Mr. Nice Guy

    The government characters in their haz-mat suits scared me as a kid.

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