ET the Extra Terrestrial Christmas Eve 3.40pm BBC1
Friday 22 December 1995
The young Henry Thomas, who has eyes as big and bright as buttons, plays Elliott, into whose life and garden strays a walking Yorkshire pudding. Accidentally left behind on earth by his mothership, which had presumably paused to stop at a Welcome Break service station on its trip home, the creature's fate rests in the boy's hands. Luckily, Elliott is not the sort of urchin who plucks the wings off of dragonflies; a friendship blossoms, based on learning and trust and, most crucially, affairs which are beyond the understanding of adults.
Spielberg wants access to youth's secrets. (The film toys with two childhood preoccupations: imaginary friends and fear of abandonment.) But nostalgia can taste stale on celluloid. So why does ET feel so fresh? Because of the playing - Thomas (and an itsy-bitsy Drew Barrymore as his quacking sister) have a spontaneity that has usually been beaten out of children by the time they are shoved in front of a movie camera.
More than that, ET amounts to an artist pitching everything he's got into the dark, at his audience. That's something that few directors are fearless enough to do. Spielberg lost his nerve thereafter. He sought refuge in the mechanically thrilling Indiana Jones trilogy, a smattering of self-consciously sombre projects (of which only Schindler's List succeeded) and Always and Hook, the most wretched follies known to mankind. He will never make a film as purely cinematic, or emotionally raw, as ET. Which is only one of a thousand reasons to cherish it. Did I mention that it's the greatest weepie known to terrestrial, and extra-terrestrial, civilisation?
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
- 2 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 3 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 Saudi Arabia executes 19 in one half of August in 'disturbing surge of beheadings'
- 5 Brother and sister, Christopher Buckner and Timothy Savoy, arrested for 'committing incest after watching 'The Notebook''
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
Great British Bake Off 2014: Ofcom receives 13 complaints about Baked Alaska episode
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Meet the contestants
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >