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Archive for September 22nd, 2015

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by Brandie Ashe

I was two years old when the Steven Spielberg-directed E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial debuted in theaters. I was six years old when I saw the film for the first time, which my parents had taped from television along with two other movies (the titles of which I can no longer remember) during a free preview weekend of whichever premium channel we could not afford to indulge in full-time. And I was perhaps ten years old when that videotape became no longer watchable due to the sheer number of times I rewound it to play E.T. over and over and over again.

Mom and Dad eventually bought the film on tape, and the obsession continued. And even today, the Blu-ray is on regular rotation ’round these parts, because it’s one of those movies that remains just as magical and fresh and revelatory today as it was more than thirty years ago.

To say that E.T. had a profound affect on young me would be an understatement. Next to the animated films and classic cartoon shorts that I adored (and still do) above all else, E.T. was something truly special–a film where the focus was on the kids, kids who were smart and brave but also flawed, who strove to do the right thing and yet weren’t perfect paragons of cinematic characterization. They were, in essence, real kids, and I identified with them as much as I longed to actually be them, and to have an adventure with a cuddly alien all my own.

That focus on the children is not a mere by-product of the film’s central science-fiction storyline; it is the entire purpose of the film. Indeed, Spielberg, himself a child of divorce, had long sought to make a film about the myriad ways in which divorce affects kids. Told from the perspective of a family of three kids–two boys and a girl–E.T. is ultimately less about the titular alien than it is about the dynamics of a broken family, and how that damaged unit dusts itself off and learns to function as a smaller whole. (more…)

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