|Fig. 1 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial' (1982)|
Considering Elliot is 10, Gertie is 5 and Michael is 15 in the film, it is easy to assume that the children who performed these roles were near the same age. Even if they were slightly older than their characters, their performances were impressive to say the least. This is crucial for the film as it seems to revolve around childhood innocence. Since Elliot especially has an important role in the story, it is important that he seems genuine and kind while still being a believable child with flaws such as selfishness. This comes across nearly perfectly in Henry Thomas' performance, "He doesn't come across as an over-coached professional kid, he's natural, defiant, easily touched, cunning, brave and childlike," (Ebert, 2002).
It's effortless to see the resemblance between E.T. and Close Encounters as similar themes and characters run through the films. "In countless ways - its suburban setting, the similarities between Elliot and Roy Neary, the encroaching presence of the secret state, aliens - E.T. is a piece with Close Encounters," (Harris, 2000). Both take place in America, focusing on the relatable every-day life of an average family living in the suburbs. Just like Close Encounters, this draws the viewer in and makes them feel like the same events could happen to them.
Elliot and Roy both have dysfunctional families, they're both trying to cope with struggles that many people face, such as the aftermath of divorce. However, they are both randomly 'chosen' and are thrown into a crazy, surreal adventure involving beings from outer space. It is clear that Spielberg has a soft spot for family and often expresses it in his films, however in E.T. it feels much more sentimental. This could be because in Close Encounters the main character leaves his family to continue his adventure in (Spielberg later admitted he felt this was a mistake).
|Fig. 2 Family Dinner.|
That truthfulness is another aspect that is admirable about Spielberg's films that involve aliens visiting our planet. He makes it seem as though it could happen in real life. Not only do the characters feel authentic in their ordinary lives, but the reactions of the characters and the government to the events that unfold feel as though they would happen in real life. It is likely that if a creature from another planet was in the possession of the government, tests and experiments would be conducted on it to learn more about it. If an alien was discovered on our planet, people would feel awe and amazement. However, it is highly likely people would also feel fear due to the unknown, even if it presents not threat to us.
E.T. like Close Encounters shows the very real reaction people would have to these situations. However, in both films Spielberg chooses not to include intergalactic warfare and death. Instead, he chooses to show that not everything that is strange or different is bad. "With E.T. - and his Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Spielberg redefined popular sci-fi. Extra-terrestrials no longer had to be a laser-blazing threat to humanity: the universe, he was saying, is also full of awe and wonder," (Lee, 2010).
|Fig. 3 E.T.'s Ship|
Canby, V. (1982) E T The Extra Terrestrial (1982) At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C0DEFDB143BF932A25755C0A964948260 Accessed on: 1/3/2016
Ebert, R. (2002) E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/et-the-extra-terrestrial-2002 Accessed on: 3/1/2016
Harris, J. (2000) Empire Essay: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Review At: http://www.empireonline.com/movies/empire-essay-et-extra-terrestrial-2/review/ Accessed on: 1/3/2016
Lee, M. (2014) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, review: 'redefined popular sci-fi' At: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/11310774/Must-have-movie-ET-The-Extra-Terrestrial-1982.html Accessed on: 1/3/2016
Figure 1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial [Poster] At: http://centerforcreativemedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/E.T..jpg Accessed on: 1/3/2016
Figure 2. Family Dinner [Film Still] At: http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/5000000/E-T-The-Extra-Terrestrial-et-the-extra-terrestrial-5075634-852-480.jpg Accessed on: 1/3/2016
Figure 3. E.T.'s Ship [Film Still] At: http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/5000000/E-T-The-Extra-Terrestrial-et-the-extra-terrestrial-5079717-852-480.jpg Accessed on: 1/3/2016