Review: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

^ picture from my SmugMug gallery

I FINALLY saw the last half of E.T.! I started it 12 years ago, and Mom & I turned it off – whether because of its crude language (which, this time around, hardly bothered me), or because we were bored, I can’t remember – but I finished it today.

Impression:

I didn’t like it very much.*

I know, it’s a classic, but if I want a sci-fi classic, I’ll take Star Wars or Back to the Future. It had its cuteness (in no small part due to Elliot’s little sis), but, on the whole, I didn’t like the emotional roller-coaster ride, I hated that it made my eyes tear up, and I thought the “hospital” scene dragged on too long. I’ll freely admit I’m a pansy about tear-jerker scenes – I don’t cry easily, but I still avoid them whenever I can. (I think the fact that a sensible girl like me is capable of crying over fictional characters freaks me out, haha). Fortunately, that long, heart-wrenching scene was abruptly ended by a semi-predictable twist of fate. As all those poor little emotions inside me got jerked to an about-face and cried out, “Wait! What just happened?” I realized this was going to be a longer movie than I had thought. The ending was somewhat satisfying, but I think I would have liked the whole story a lot better if I had skipped over every minute that took place in that creepy, white plastic room.

Production:

The first scene made you pity ET; it drew compassion from your heart for – come on, be honest – a rather ugly creature, on which you would probably not have compassion if you saw him in a different context. So it did what it was meant to. It reminded me a little of the beginning of The Blob, though, which didn’t earn any points with me. (I didn’t like The Blob.)

The videography – shot angles, etc. – was creative and good, but I did have a hard time getting my virtual bearings a couple of times. Sometimes I couldn’t tell exactly where the camera was in relation to the rest of the environment. The lighting was spectacular – used prominently, and creating abundant dramatic effect.

As mentioned, my favorite family member was definitely Gertie. I LOVED six-year-old Drew Barrymore’s performance (and the lines written for her), and it will probably be the main reason I watch the movie again, if I do.

An interesting note, from a cultural perspective: This is probably the movie most cited as an example of product placement. Reese’s Pieces sales skyrocketed after E.T.‘s release, and you can catch a few other brands, like Coca-Cola, sitting around the house and mentioned in the dialogue.

Theology:

I found relatively little in E.T.‘s worldview that flew in the face of Christianity, but there were a couple of things.

First, the good: (1) divorce is portrayed as bad, sad and confusing, as it should be. (2) The kids have normal, sibling relationships, but they bond when the need arises, and they trust each other. (3) They show compassion and care for a stranger, and do not seem to fear the unknown.

Now, the bad: the two most obvious errors are (1) creatures from other planets exist and (2) God doesn’t need to be credited for resurrection. I’d actually worry more about exposing a child to the second idea than the first.

Other, more subtle anti-Biblical points were (3) ET’s innate – not God-driven – supernatural abilities, (4) the ESP-ish connection between Elliot & ET, and (5) the kids’ deception of their mom. In many movies, including E.T., all adults are portrayed as a hindrance and are the last to know about things. It’s too bad that at least three generations now have grown up consuming this type of story, because it feeds our (usually dangerous) desire to handle things on our own, rather than turn to people who are older and probably wiser.

Big ideas:

  • The power of friendship and the love that grows from it.
  • Respect for all (even non-human) life.
  • Friends can come in any form, and from unexpected places.
  • We don’t have to understand a lot about others to form a bond with them.
  • Kids can handle things better than adults can.
  • The value of home.

 

– – – – –
* [I should voice a side-note, disclaimer-type qualm about this review: it might be a tad pessimistic, because I was in no state to watch sci-fi, since I had been engrossed in a thick, Civil War novel all morning. I reluctantly tore myself from my book to fulfill a promise of watching a movie with someone, and it didn’t make for a good transition. It’s hard to get in the swing of believing in aliens right after reading about the hardships and romances of slaves in 1860’s South Carolina… but I digress.]

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