Tuesday, 1 March 2016

CUTTING EDGES 8: 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial' (1982)

Fig.1 'E.T the Extra Terrestrial' Poster

An extraterrestrial dream, Steven Spielberg's 1980' sci-fi adventure 'E.T' the Extra-Terrestrial', continues his cinematic path of the Unknown. Its story pulls at the heartstrings of many, leaving audiences with both tears of joy and happiness. "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" is a reminder of what movies are for. Most movies are not for any one thing, of course. Some are to make us think, some to make us feel, some to take us away from our problems, some to help us examine them. What is enchanting about "E.T." is that, in some measure, it does all of those things. (Ebert, 2002) Full of classic Spielberg camera work and wonderful practical/special effects, 'E.T' has found a place in ours hearts where it resides as a beautifully placed piece of childhood memorabilia.

Fig.2. Film Still

Just like Spielberg's tremendous Sci-Fi adventure, 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind' (1978), 'E.T' is a film flooded with brightly coloured lights that lure the audience into a new world. From the very first scene we are treated to the sight of a mystical looking forest filled with ominous lights and a thick layering of fog. Not only does this look aesthetically pleasing, but it also serves a purpose within the film. Spielberg has instantly created a world full of mystery, hidden away beneath the fog, enticing the viewer by making them want more. As the opening scene progress the light and fog stay as they are until they are suddenly overwhelmed by dark silhouetted bodies, each of which carrying their own light as they run frantically through the woods. The audience is left to wonder, who are these people? What do they want? During these scenes that camera is held low. 'Much of the film was deliberately shot from a lower camera angle - from a child's point-of-view to manipulatively encourage younger viewers to identify with the characters, to simulate how overwhelming and threatening adults look to children (from the waist or knees down), and to force adult viewers to relive their own childhood' (Filmsite, S.D)
There are also shots when the camera fixes its cinematic eye upon certain objects, for example, a set of keys attached to the belt of one of these mysterious figures. This could be seen as a metaphorical way of telling the audience that these people seek to incarcerate the being that they are looking for, the keys being the symbol of locking something away.

Fig.3. Film Still
The father figure, the man of the house, someone no where to be seen within this 'E.T'. There are times early on within the film where the faces of men are un-seen. Its arguable that Spielberg has done this to subtly tell the audience the reason for him not being within the family home without having to add the emotional intensity that could overshadow the true story, instead this film is about Elliot and his discovery of E.T and doesn't dwell on his fathers absence,  his whereabouts are only mentioned at certain points in the movie. 'No filmmaker could have placed a science fiction adventure so convincingly in an everyday domestic setting, where the cheerful chaos is overshadowed by the recent departure of the man of the house. (Lee, 2014)
It could be said that E.T fills this hole within the family. It seems E.T becomes their step-dad. The fun loving imaginative parent who brings wonder into a dysfunctional family especially to the mother, a woman left unimaginative within adulthood unable to see the wonder in life. 'Dad would have believed me' as Elliot (played by Henry Thomas) says during a meal in the family home. The connection between Elliot and E.T comes across as an adopted maternal connection, when that connection is tragically broken, it is Elliot's unconditional love that seems to bring E.T back to life.

In conclusion, 'E.T the Extra Terrestrial' is a beautiful film that tugs at the heart strings of many, it's grand soundtrack and adventurous display of cinematography all play a part in creating this magical world we all know and love.


Ebert, R (2002) 'E.T the Extra-Terrestrial' (1982)  At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/et-the-extra-terrestrial-2002 Accessed on: 1-03-2016 

FilmSite (S.D) E.T the Extra-Terrestrial' (1982) At: http://www.filmsite.org/etth.html Accessed on: 01-03-2016

Lee, M (2014) 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, review: 'redefined popular sci-fi' (1982) At: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/11310774/Must-have-movie-ET-The-Extra-Terrestrial-1982.html Accessed on: 01-03-2016


Figure. 1 'E.T the Extra-Terrestrial' (1982) [Poster] At:http://images.moviepostershop.com/et--the-extra-terrestrial-movie-poster-1982-1020141470.jpg Accessed on: 01-03-2016

Figure. 2 [Film Still] At: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-egygJScU-HM/TwcF0933XQI/AAAAAAAAIx0/B4SR0Z4Ns8A/s1600/et2.jpg Accessed on: 01-03-2016

Figure. 3 [Film Still] At: http://whysoblu.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/et-family-1024x552.jpg Accessed on: 01-03-2016


  1. Excellent review Tom :)
    Just a couple of little points... don't forget capital letter in the other film titles - 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind', for example. Also, be aware of when to use 'its' and 'it's' - 'it's' is only used when you are saying 'it is' or 'it has'; confusing, I know, as usually to show possession you use the apostrophe - but not in this case!!