E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is available to rent, buy or stream.


Close Encounters of the Third Kind may have announced Steven Spielberg’s arrival as a genius, but E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial cemented his place as a legend. In my opinion, no film before or since has matched Steven Spielberg’s 1982 family picture in either charm, emotional power, or beauty, despite many tries. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial transcends the year of its birth as it enthrals and inspires new generations forty years after its release. Here the emotional, funny, and magical story of Elliott and his vulnerable alien friend from a distant star speaks to the child in every one of us.

Coming┬ájust a year after Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T The Extra-Terrestrial owes much to the friendship forged between Lucas and Spielberg, particularly within puppetry and visual effects. However, Spielberg would also forge a different science fiction path from Lucas, who embraced the 50s space opera model. Spielberg’s science fiction world was wrapped in childhood wonder and human emotion; the aliens didn’t carry guns or have malicious intent in Close Encounters or E.T, nor did they want to take over the world.


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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was born from Steven Spielberg’s own childhood experiences of divorce and the memories of insecurity and separation that followed when he was ten. In E.T., Elliott grapples with the breakup of his parents while feeling disconnected from his older Dungeon and Dragon’s loving brother. Meanwhile, his younger sister does not fully understand the ramifications of the family breakdown, while Elliott’s mum desperately tries to keep the family together, hiding her own pain. These human emotions and fears surround the arrival of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial as we explore separation, pain and confusion through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy. Here every camera movement and angle reflects Elliot’s perspective of the world around him as an alien (who feels like him) enters his world.

We all have hidden magical friends during our childhood, especially during times of stress, when the world feels scary or dark. These secret friends take the form of soft toys, figures or new worlds we create in our minds, providing security and offering us something or someone to share our most hidden fears with. Even as we enter adulthood, we find ourselves wishing on a star or looking to the heavens for an answer to our troubles, fears or apprehensions. E.T. is the physical embodiment of this act, linking our childhood dreams, escapism and adult need for a solution together by speaking to the inner child we keep locked away.


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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial reminds us of childhood’s innocence and acceptance, including our ability to see past the physical differences and cultural barriers that separate us. Here it provides us with a message of hope and diversity that has never been more important in our modern world of segregation and nationalism. At the same time, E.T. speaks directly to our fear of loss through separation, reminding us all that the journey we take with others remains in our hearts no matter the distance between us. The film’s final farewell echoes with the words “I’ll be right here” as E.T. points his finger towards Elliott’s chest – a reminder that no matter the scale of the change, we all carry those who are distant with us.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is one of the most beautiful films ever made, its story, music and performances shining just as brightly as they did forty years ago. E.T. transcends time, as it momentarily allows our inner child to break free while comforting every new child who finds its magic. E.T The Extra-Terrestrial reflects the dreams and fears of us all, no matter our age or difference, in a bubble of pure wonder, fantasy and imagination. It is, and will always be, one of the greatest movies ever made.