Making the Grades
When 10-year-old Elliot (Henry Thomas) finds a stranded alien hiding in his backyard he uses fairytale tactics and lures the elusive unidentified life form into the house with candy- covered chocolates. Once in the safety of his bedroom, Elliot has a chance to get to know his extra terrestrial stray and begins educating E. T. about life on Earth while keeping a protective eye on him. Before long, the boy lets his brother, Mike (Robert MacNaughton), and little sister, Gertie (Drew Barrymore), in on the secret. But as they closet themselves in with their newfound playmate, federal agents, eager to get their hands on the space visitor, zero in on the unsuspecting children.
This early Steven Spielberg foray into movies hints at the director's legendary career to follow. By filming most of the adults at waist level, he shows us the wonder of their new discovery from a kid's perspective. Spielberg also uses deep shadows and lots of steam to keep the alien shrouded in mystery while he meshes in his trademark share of ethical lessons. Tolerance, the importance of loving one another, and the security of home are strongly emphasized throughout E.T. These positive themes may outweigh the film's brief content concerns -- namely a few obscenities from the older kids.
No doubt younger children will be scared during the original discovery of E.T., but the fright soon turns to love as the creature's best intentions are felt. The touching scene at the end, as Elliot says goodbye to his friend, will probably pull tears from even the toughest viewers.
Despite the incredible developments made in special effects over the intervening years, this 1982 production holds its own as a believable story today. Still, Spielberg felt the need to tinker with it when the film releases to DVD in 2002, for its twentieth anniversary. Using the more advanced computer technology, one of the changes he made was removing guns from the hands of federal agents (to decrease the depicted violence.).
Regardless of which version you see, E.T. is worth sharing with the younger generations that have not had the chance to experience its magic.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
How did E.T. react to scenes of conflict such as Elliot’s battle with his action figures? How did he act when Mike and Elliot stole Gertie’s doll and threatened to tear it apart? What might his behavior tell us about the planet he came from?
This film has several examples of blatant product promotion. Can you name some of them? Do you think this is a good way for companies to advertise? Is this an acceptable way for producers to get extra cash for their film? Do you think a movie’s success (or lack thereof) will reflect on the merchandise?