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ET The Extra-Terrestrial

Revisit a classic

For those of us who went to see this movie as children the first time around, it's hard to believe that it's actually been 20 years since ET was released. This is one of those movies that simply became a part of our common cultural landscape, so much so that it's difficult to remember that it wasn't always there. My first reaction to hearing that it was going to be re-released was to wonder why. It seemed cynical, exploitative somehow, a ploy to make a quick buck off a treasured childhood memory. This reviewer was suffering from a serious case of cynicism.

All of that changed with the first notes of ET's famous, lushly emotional score. Right from the very beginning, Spielberg has you eating out of his hand like the master that he is, and even the most jaded amongst the audience can't help but feel every bit as full of wonder as the children we were when we saw it for the first time.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this movie is how little the passage of time has lessened its impact. All of its central themes are as relevant now as they were when the movie was first released - the importance of friendship, the ability of children to look past the surface of things to their core, the intrinsic compassion of human beings, the fear of faceless and mindless authority destroying things which it doesn't understand, the love between families and the pain that they cause each other, the basic human desire to feel that we are not alone in the universe. Spielberg himself has often said that ET is his most personal movie, and it shows. ET also showcases all of the director's greatest strengths - his skill in using music and sound to create and enhance mood, his extraordinary gift for working with children, his knack for physical comedy, his genuine talent for storytelling.

Audiences who already know ET will appreciate the subtle improvements made possibly by advances in special effects, which have been made without in any way altering the basic look and feel of the movie. Children and those seeing the movie for the first time will be too caught up in the story to know or care. Judging by the reaction of both parties so far, modern audiences still love ET for the same reason that it became the highest grossing movie of its day two decades ago - because it is a simple story about a lonely child who opens his heart and finds a friend, and it appeals to the lonely child in all of us.

This movie is a love letter from the heart of a man who never really grew up to the child in all of us. In times like these, maybe that's the best gift any of us could ask for - a way to find our way back to that brave and hopeful and loving child again, even if only for a little while.


E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Rated PG
1 hour 45 minutes

Henry Thomas
Dee Wallace
Peter Coyote
Drew Barrymore
Robert McNaughton