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E.T The Extra-Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg's "E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial" is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The movie was released in June 1982, and it quickly became the year's biggest hit. It has since become one of the most beloved movies of all time and a cultural icon.

As everyone knows, it's the story of a gentle alien scientist who seeks help from three children when he's stranded on Earth. Michael, Elliott, and Gertie Taylor are going through tough times (their father just left, and Mom is struggling). A beautiful friendship forms as the kids help E.T. build a device to "phone home". Elliott develops a strong emotional bond with E.T. and can feel his feelings. The children rescue E.T. from pursuing government scientists, and help him reunite with his people.

"E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" is Spielberg's best and most popular movie. He had become famous as the talented director of blockbusters like "Jaws" and "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" but this is the film that fully revealed his tremendous gifts as a filmmaker. His keen eye, visual flair, and virtuosity with the camera are on full display here. The movie is full of memorable images, especially in the riveting opening scene and a classic breathtaking shot of Elliott's bicycle flying across the moon. All of it is brilliantly captured by ace cinematographer Allen Daviau. Spielberg and editor Carol Littleton keep the film moving along swiftly, grabbing the audience immediately and holding attention until the exhilarating finale. John Williams wraps it all up in one of his most memorable scores- soaring, moving, and suspenseful, with a classic theme song.

Melissa Mathison's wonderful screenplay is full of humor, tenderness, compassion, and strong characters. Steven Spielberg's brilliant direction takes full advanteage of it. He brings out the story's full power and masterfully captures the wonder of childhood. This is most evident in the handling of his marvelous young cast. Spielberg gets strong, touching work from Robert MacNaughton and Drew Barrymore as Michael and Gertie. Best of all, Henry Thomas is perfect as Elliott. He beautifully anchors the film in a powerful performance that is one of the greatest juvenile performances in movie history.

I'll say it again: this is still Steven Spielberg's best movie!