Classic Film Guide

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

More complex than your average “boy and his dog” family drama, this essential fantasy adventure won four Oscars and received five other Academy Award nominations; somehow, Best Picture honors went to Gandhi (1982) instead. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, each of whom were nominated, the film took home gold in the Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Best Effects, Visual Effects, Best Music, Original Score, and Best Sound categories; its Cinematography and Editing were also nominated. It was added to the National Film Registry in 1994; it’s #25 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movies list, #6 on AFI's 100 Most Inspiring Movies list, #14 on AFI's Top 25 Film Scores list, #44 on AFI's Most Heart-Pounding Movies list, and “E.T. phone home" is #15 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Quotes list.

Henry Thomas plays Elliott, a 10 year old boy that discovers (and names) E.T., an extra-terrestrial whose space ship had to leave Earth without him, and becomes determined to return him to his otherworldly planet. The two become ‘attached’ – physically, emotionally and mentally – such that one’s well-being affects the other. Elliott makes his older teenaged brother Michael (Robert Macnaughton) and 6 year old sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) swear their most secret promise to keep their mother (Dee Wallace) in the dark about the alien’s existence (despite that it’s living in Elliott’s room!). The children’s father’s recent separation from their mother makes Elliot’s connection with E.T. even stronger. Unfortunately, the fact of E.T.’s presence is not unknown to ‘the government’, whose agents arrive on the scene in a most bizarre way. Peter Coyote plays the only ‘official’ who seems to appreciate and value Elliott’s love for the extra-terrestrial. The movie's last 20 minutes contain exciting bicycle chases and multiple tear-jerking moments.

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