With any movie like E.T. (and especially E.T.) watching it awakens memories of when you saw it as a kid. To this day I remember the second time I saw the movie and cried my eyes out. I was all of seven years old and wrestled with the embarrassment of what happened. I wasn’t scared, no one close to me died, yet there were those tears. Was I really crying for this alien that was no more than a fictitious character in a movie? I was able to control those “movie tears” for years after that but now I actually look forward to them. Hell, the last time I really remember letting loose was during The Return of the King. Where and when? That’s my secret.
E.T. is a great and strange movie. Strange as in it changes with you as you grow older. In 1982 I was an older brother. Not as old as Elliot’s but I knew how to torture my sibling to get what I wanted. No, I identified with Elliot right away. How could I not as we had the same toys and quoted the same movies (Star Wars)? As I got to be Mike’s age, I understood the responsibility of looking after a younger brother. We might not have always agreed but we were always on the same side. I’m sure if I had been any younger I would have started with Gertie. Yet as I grew older and will probably have a children of my own, I’ll identify with Mary. As time keeps turning so does E.T. and our identification with its characters.
One of the amazing things (and there are many) about E.T. is how director Steven Spielberg plays with light. It is everywhere in the film. Take notice of how and where it is pointed, directly into the camera. This works on multiple levels in building a mood and changing the characters. With the mood we find the warmth in Elliot’s world. Inside his room is a place of security and love. The world on the other side of those rainbow blinds is dark, mysterious, and dangerous. Thankfully, our hero found his way into Elliot’s haven.
The lighting for the characters is something that not many people take notice of on a first or second glance. Watch the film again as the characters’ faces are engulfed in shadows. This isn’t Henry Thomas we’re watching. It’s a boy talking to this magical creature he found. That boy could be you or even your son. The character of “Keys” evidently has this lighting technique used in the majority of the film. His face is never seen (well almost nothing above the belt) until the end. Yet, when he is revealed, he is not some horrible monster of a man. No, he’s a wide eyed dreamer, like Elliot, who knows just how special E.T. really is. Spielberg painted a dark canvas filled with spots of warmth and hope. His reflection of our world is one that has endured.
The event at the LA Film Fest was an incredible undertaking. Fans were encouraged to arrive on their bikes and escort E.T. to the screening (pictured above/ video below). It might look cheesy or silly but not many movies endure the way E.T. has. It’s great when fans can turn out and show their support for a film they love.
I took notice of the man in front of me at the screening. He was there with his wife and family. At the end (and you know which part), he took off his glasses and wiped the tears from his face. I quickly wiped away my own, as well. It looks as if the power of E.T. will endure, long into my old age. I just can’t wait to share it with my children.
E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (the original 1982 cut) arrives on Blu-ray this October, 2012. Check out the full details here.