E.T. The Extra–Terrestrial - 20th Anniversary Edition

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Director:Steven Spielberg
Writer:Melissa Mathison
Universal; PG; 120 minutes
Cast:Dee Wallace Stone, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote

After spellbinding audiences for two decades, Steven Spielberg's classic E.T. The Extra–Terrestrial returns to the big screen. Like George Lucas before him, Spielberg couldn't resist adding mildly intrusive computer-generated special effects to an already excellent movie, but his immature CGI tinkering is minimal. It was an amazing movie then, and it's an amazing movie now.

The well-known plot involves a smallish alien visiting Earth who's stranded after its ship's crew is forced to evacuate in a hurry. Alone and afraid, the little creature meets up with Elliot (Henry Thomas), a young boy from a broken suburban home. The two slowly become friends and E.T. gets introduced to Elliot's world. E.T. attempts to “phone home” for rescue, a possibility challenged by an invasive mass of scientists whose presence threatens E.T.'s life and that of Elliot as well, due to their deep connection.

Cinematic magic infuses this film on nearly every level. It's vintage Spielberg: a personal tale of connection, coming of age, and friendship played out in the common American neighborhood—albeit one where otherworldly sci-fi wonders enhance everyday rhythms. E.T.'s intergalactic modesty and intimate scale of the story make it timeless, a welcome alternative to the bigger-louder-faster school of overblown Hollywood productions currently in vogue.

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