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"The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle." Stanley Kubrick

Classic Film Review: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Contains spoilers, but if you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for???

One of the greatest films of all time is currently on Netflix, and with the hit television show Stranger Things currently streaming on Netflix, I thought it was only fitting to review the film where Stranger Things got its roots from. E.T. tells the tale of an alien who gets abandoned on Earth and the young boy who finds him and eventually decides he has to bring him back home. This film can be interpreted a lot of ways, but at the end of the day, it’s about the bond between the boy, Elliott, and the alien, E.T. This has become a timeless classic for a number of reasons. It all boils down to the incredible directing, writing, cinematography, music, and performances. All of these combined equal to a remarkable tale that is not only well made, but extremely memorable. E.T. is a children’s film that combines a number of genres including science-fiction, mystery, and even some elements of horror. Steven Spielberg did a great job of not only borrowing elements of other genres, but still making it his own. Let me begin by talking about Spielberg’s influence to the film.

This is one of Spielberg’s greatest films, and some can argue by saying it’s his best. It was a massive hit when it came out, and still remains one of the all time classic films. No “greatest movies of all time” list would be complete without E.T. The opening scene of this film looks like it could be the beginning of a horror movie. It is very dark and gloomy and ensues a very dreary atmosphere. Spielberg brilliantly doesn’t allow the audience to see what E.T. looks like or doesn’t give anything away to who he is and why he’s on Earth. Spielberg is known for building suspense in his film and never exposing anything too early, and he once again does this brilliantly with the character E.T. When Elliott is introduced and is shown in his backyard looking for what ever creature is hiding, Spielberg uses fog and limited lighting to give an enigmatic, unsettling feeling for the viewers. The camera moves very slowly and perfectly follows the characters as they move during the blocking of a scene. This is Spielberg at his best, and this just happens to be a film for children. The use of practical effects for this film is fantastic, and really gives the film a timeless feeling to it. E.T. looks just as lifelike and realistic as he did in 1982. Spielberg made everyone fall in love with a puppet, and that is just as magical as E.T. himself. Let me move on to the performances.

E.T. contains some of the best child performances ever put on to the screen. Henry Thomas who plays Elliott gives an incredible performance that should have been nominated for an Academy Award. It is so iconic, and for the rest of his life he will always be remembered for playing Elliott. The video of his audition for the role has gone viral, and Spielberg himself has admitted that he hired Thomas right on the spot after seeing the audition. This film contains one of the most emotional, sorrowful, but heartwarming endings ever in film. Watching E.T. say goodbye to Elliott and his family is so sad, and Thomas absolutely nails the final scene. As a viewer, you really feel what he is feeling and don’t want E.T. to leave even though you know he has to. Drew Barrymore was seven years old when this film was released, and not only is she extremely adorable, but she gives a fantastic performance as well. Thomas and Barrymore are both great and they actually feel like real kids, from the way they talk to the way they act. This is because of the wonderful screenplay. This is an original story adapted from nothing other than the mind of Melissa Mathison. She wrote the film specifically for Steven Spielberg. This is a story that never misses a note, and is extremely memorable. Nothing is spoon fed to you. For example, there are never scenes that explain who E.T. is and why he is on Earth. There are also not scenes that cut to the Government officers who are looking for E.T. and why they want him. This kind of stuff isn’t important and would ruin the pace and tone of the film.

Lastly, I could not write a review for this film without mentioning the wonderful musical score by John Williams. This is my favorite John Williams score of all time. It’s one of the only ones that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. It is uplifting, magical, and warms the heart, just like this film does. The great climatic score that you hear when the children are flying on their bikes is never exposed right away. You hear just snippets of this score throughout the film, and it finally goes in full blast once Elliott flies on his bike with E.T. That is by far one of the my favorite moments ever in film, and the score just enhances an already great scene to something just incredible.

Overall, E.T. is a timeless classic that is not only is extremely memorable, but hasn’t aged a bit. There’s maybe one or two shots of the children flying in the sky on their bikes that look a bit dated, but besides that, this film still looks great and offers incredible practical effects. It’s refreshing to see a great film that has hardly any special effects or CGI. This is a children’s film that offers incredible directing, acting, cinematography, with a wonderful, original screenplay. As someone who loves cinematography in film, I can say that E.T. has some of the best I have ever seen in film. My featured image for this post will prove that. There is so much more I can say about this masterpiece, but I highly recommend watching this if you are a huge fan of Stranger Things, or just haven’t seen it in quite some time. This is a film that people of all ages can enjoy, and is a reason why it’s not only an incredible children’s film, but just a wonderful motion picture that will capture your heart and remind you how great it was to be a kid.



  1. Jason

    I remember when I first saw this movie (when I was like 8), I was so scared of E.T. Gave me nightmares for a bit. As I grew up, I learned to appreciate the movie and yes (like many film buffs) E.T. is true classic in the world of movies. Nice review!

    1. Brendan Bellavia (Post author)

      Thanks! Couldn’t agree more! It’s a film that anyone of any age can enjoy.


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