ET: The Extra-Terrestrial

Year: 1982
Production Co: Amblin
Studio: Universal
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producer: Steven Spielberg/Kathleen kennedy
Writer: Melissa Mathison
Cast: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyota, C Thomas Howell, Erika Eleniak
Proof that the simplest ideas are the best. I even remember going to see it as an eleven year old kid and thinking 'what a simple idea – anyone could have thought it up'.

Who doesn't know the story of a dumpy alien stranded on Earth who's taken in and befriended by neighbourhood kids, hidden from the adults while he constructs the machine out of toy parts that will call his ship back to take him home?

It was early days for Spielberg and despite proving himself on Jaws and Close Encounters he wasn't quite the cinematic King Midas he is now. It was also his glory period; his early movies were blatantly commercial but they comprised him stretching his imagination to the limit. Nowadays he's grown up and seems more interested in winning Oscars – the last movie of his that transported us so fully was Jurassic Park, ten years old as I write this.

As his films always do, the subtext was about absent, uncaring parents (whom in this case didn't enough know enough about their kids to know they were hiding an alien) and how children see the universe with wonder and discovery and can accept anything.

Spielberg also told the story with great emotion, sadness and hope, which was an interesting and accomplished turnaround for him after Close Encounters was so clinical and scientific it was almost a documentary.

And you can always tell how powerful a movie resonates in our culture by how recognisable the sounds and images are. If you don't know what 'phone home' means or recognise the silouhette of a bicycle flying across the face of a full moon, you must never have seen a movie or watched a TV show in your life.

It was also part of the experiment that took place around the onset of the 21st century (again pioneered by the Star Wars saga) where studios would re-release classic films 20 or so years later with a lot of fanfare about showing them to a new generation. As far as I know neither the ET nor Grease re-release did as good as they hoped and I haven't seen one since.

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