1982: THE GREATEST YEAR – ‘E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL’

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This summer marks the 30th anniversary of what is considered the greatest blockbuster season of all-time: summer, 1982. That year, the cinemas were loaded with genre-defining classics that are still shaping the worlds of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and action to this day. In this retrospective series, 1982: The Greatest Year, Jeff and other members of the Geek League of America will take a fond, and sometimes funny, look back at this monumental time in nerd culture history.

There’s magic all around us, but you’ll never find it in a hat. It exists on our screens, lives on our discs. This magic—movie magic—spans the ages, bringing the dead back to life and transporting the living to worlds unknown. Never has any other medium sparked the blending of imagination and creativity quite like film.

But, beyond artistic existence, the essence of film revolves around human experience: shared experience. Despite the fact that I was five years from existence during the summer of 1982, I still know what it’s like to see E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial for the first time (and countless times thereafter). I still think E.T. would be an ideal alternative to My Size Barbie, I will always want Elliott’s rainbow blinds, and I can’t help but harbor the subconscious fear of spacemen barging through my door. But, while my first viewing was undoubtedly different from your experience, no one can deny the magical bond between E.T. and Elliott—a boy and his alien—and our innate desire to embrace the unexpected.

Did you know? Elliott’s little lady friend grew up to become a Baywatch babe! From classroom cutie to beach beauty, Erika Eleniak went on to star as Shauni McClain on the hit TV series from 1989 to 1992. I discovered this little tidbit of information after watching an episode of Full House, in which Eleniak plays Uncle Jesse’s (John Stamos) old high school girlfriend. Having watched E.T. just the night before, the facial similarities sent me straight to IMDb where I then confirmed my theory. 

From the start, we are overcome by a sense of loneliness. While E.T. has accidentally been left behind, Elliott’s suburban existence establishes a dreary sense of boredom. Doomed to blend, Elliott becomes the classic middle child on the cusp of standing out. But when our main characters meet, these two halves of a whole merge to create a cinematic bond we have yet to see recreated in our lifetime.

In a tale vaguely reminiscent of Rudolph and Hermey’s trip to the Island of Misfit Toys (an odd analogy, I’m sure), Elliott and E.T. embark on a journey to reconnect with their families by discovering themselves. While E.T. aims to physically reconnect, Elliott’s journey strengthens a familial bond strained by divorce. Together, this twosome proves that love and determination can conquer even the gravest of circumstances.

When we meet our main characters, both feel neglected—something with which we can all empathize. But, in their state of abandon, the two build a common bond that not only allows them to solve problems, but to patch a hole that had yet to be mended. E.T. comes to love Elliott so completely, restoring Elliott’s other relationships by repairing his broken heart. Elliott, in turn, brings E.T. back from the brink of death by helping him contact his family just in time.

Did you know? Peter Coyote was once a mime! Well, sort of… Coyote was a member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, working as an actor, writer, and director, thus putting himself at the center of the 1960s counter-culture. While Coyote went on to enjoy a successful film career, the troupe’s notoriously satirical approach continues to serve as social commentary on political repression within the United States to this very day.

When one spends their entire life living within the confines of suburbia, escape seems futile. One spin around the cul-de-sac will leave anyone wishing they could blaze their own trail or pave their own path. By defying the police, defying death, and defying gravity, Elliott and E.T. throw authority aside in pursuit of their goal.

From their shared drunkenness, to their synchronized descent toward death, Spielberg alters the typical “boy and his dog” love story for the modern age by incorporating the fantastical into one of the most humdrum suburban backdrops possible. We want E.T. to shakes things up not just because we know the movie requires some inciting incident to get the ball rolling, but also because we all wish for the extraordinary to disrupt the ordinary. Each day I wish for something unexpected to arise. My inner child wants adventure! As we age, imagination dwindles, but our desire to discover the unknown, encounter new beings, and explore the wild still lies within. We want super powers to make us strong and magical powers to make wishes come true. We want our wildest childhood fantasies actualized.

Films are not merely frames stitched together by the director’s artistic vision, but feelings strung throughout, each moment linked to the next by the fragile, emotional thread tying the main characters together. Films capture the distant memories of our imaginary worlds and bring our most unrealistic dreams to life. Inside each of us resides an Elliott looking for excitement, love, and acceptance. Inside each of us lives an E.T. searching for a home to call their own. But no matter our stage in life, films essentially remain the same, changing only as our lives evolve. That’s the beauty of the movies: Whether today, or 30 years ago, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial withstands repeat viewing because, no matter how much our lives change with age, we hold these characters dear to our hearts, recalling childhood memories and adding new perspective with each year that passes us by.

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Bonus: E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL Collector’s Edition Spaceship Blu-Ray Announced!

You’ve read the article, now buy the special edition 30th annivarsary blu-ray, complete with this amazingly awesome spaceship packaging!

This blu-ray set includes:

  • Steven Spielberg & ET: A brand new interview with Steven Spielberg, in which he talks about his work with the children and talks about his current and comprehensive view of ET.
  • The ET Journal: Behind the Scenes material of the Oscar winner John Toll (cinematographer). This piece gives the audience the unique feeling of being on location and experience with stress, as it was offset to shoot the aliens.
  • Deleted Scenes
  • A Look Back: Making-Of, including interviews with Cast and Crew
  • The ET Reunion: The reunion: Cast and crew meet and express their thoughts on film.
  • The Evolution and Creation of ET: From idea to script, about the casting to the shooting.
  • The Music of ET: A Discussion with John Williams: interviews and footage of the long- standing relationship between John Williams and Steven Spielberg.
  • The 20th Anniversary Premiere: The composer John Williams on the occasion of the premiere of the new release of the film ET. ET live music played at the Shrine Auditorium. This section allows us to look behind the scenes of this performance.
  • Original Trailer

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About Author

Anna Papachristos

Anna grew up surrounded by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. She knew the entire Sailor Moon theme song by heart, and would sell her duplicate Pokémon cards to her classmates for 25 cents each. But no matter how small this 4’11” lady may be, she has never come up short on her love for reading and writing. By day, Anna works as a staff writer for 1to1 Media. By night, she ventures into the unknown world of books, movies, and her own imagination. Join Anna as she takes some time to Stop & Smell the Roses and follow her on Twitter.