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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

He is afraid. He is alone. He is three million light years from home. 

Year: 1982 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC U Cert – Universal 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Steven Spielberg 
Starring: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore  
An image from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

One of the most enduring children’s films of all time, it is easy to forget the power this much-loved story has to profoundly touch viewers of all ages. Through this meticulously crafted tale, Spielberg is defying long-established conventions of the sci-fi genre, presenting a friendly and unthreatening alien and creating the most lovable space creature to ever grace our screens.

This is essentially the story of a lonely boy who finds a friend, and was apparently inspired by the imaginary friend that Spielberg created for himself to get him through his parents’ divorce. One alien is accidently left behind on a mission collecting plant samples on earth. He is discovered and befriended by ten-year-old Eliot (Thomas), who takes him home and introduces him to his older brother Michael (MacNaughton) and little sister Gertie (a very young Drew Barrymore). The children try to look after the alien and hide his presence from their mother (Wallace). E.T. learns to imitate the children and begins to master English, while a mysteriously strong emotional and physical bond is growing between Eliot and his alien friend.

This film has become such a part of our culture that it is now a feast of '80s nostalgia, and watching it feels like a sort of homecoming. Many scenes will be recognisable even to those who have never seen this film before, such as the iconic image of the brothers’ bicycle soaring past the silhouette of the moon. Extra-terrestrial life has been an enduring theme for Spielberg, who has also made Close Encounters of the Third Kind, War of the Worlds, and, regrettably, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. However, no other film commands the same emotional investment as ET. To watch it is to leave all cynicism behind, and, for a few hours, become a kid again.

Shoshana Eilon


What is there to say about a film so strongly imprinted on the mind, of filmgoers across 1982 and 1983? American Film cited it as one of the best American films of the 1980's, putting it at number 2 in a top twenty list, with Raging Bull at number one.

Well then, to refresh the memory. A spaceship stands silent in a forest on the edges of Spielbergs' characteristic suburbia. In the darkness, visitors scour the land for specimens of earth's environment.

The peace is suddenly shattered by government agents who have been alerted to the presence of something unknown.

Anonymous men pursue one visitor in a dramatic chase through the forest, yet never capture it. The visitors' ship leaves the party, having forgotten to wait for a now very lonely travelers.

The film famously charts the little guy's discovery by Elliot and the development of their friendship.

With the federal agents breathing down the neck of suburbia, Elliot's home is invaded, E.T.'s strength begins to weaken while all the time we know a happy ending is in store.

Possibly Spielberg's masterpiece, the film contains many brilliantly executed scenes which unashamedly aim for the heartstrings. The film is a fusion of performance, direction, technology and music. It is perfect in many ways - highly polished and neatly folded.

When told of the number of parallels the story contained with the life of Christ, Spielberg replied "I don't want to hear this, I'm Jewish"!.

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Screenings of this film:

1997/1998 Summer Term (35mm)
1997/1998 Summer Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Autumn Term (35mm)
2005/2006 Summer Term (70mm)
2010/2011 Autumn Term (70mm)