E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (Spielberg, 1982)

All of the recent Spielberg chatter inspired me to revisit one of the director’s earlier works. E.T. was the natural choice, mostly because it’s been more than a decade since my last viewing. I was immediately struck by the film’s organic examination of innocence and purity, a thematic cocktail that may feel sugary in this cynical day and age but really is something to cherish. I’d forgotten that E.T. is an unabashed kid flick, permanently rooted in the rush of emotions these young children experience on a moment to moment basis. The film asks the viewer to give in to its seamless rhythm, the children’s intoxicating conversations and the modes of communication they develop with E.T. For Spielberg, camaraderie and loyalty are more important than traditional plot devices.

E.T.‘s luminescent focus on wonderment and awe crescendos when Elliot looks over at E.T. slowly dying on the gurney, the boy’s eyes filling with the terror of imminent separation. This fascinating and draining moment encapsulates Spielberg’s motif of isolation and loneliness, a childhood fear he’s been examining throughout his filmography. A final note: Visually, much of E.T. is one long, fluid glide through exterior spaces, culminating in the fantastic bike sequence where federal agents chase Elliot et al. through a suburbia seemingly under permanent reconstruction.

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