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JulyDiaz

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

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Paul & Amy beam up to Steven Spielberg’s heartwarming alien feature, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial! They learn E.T.’s real name, marvel at Spielberg’s uncanny ease directing children, and wonder how well the film holds up with kids today. Plus: Seth Shostak, an astronomer from the SETI Institute, tells us how likely we are to find actual E.T.s on Earth. 

Next week: the western showdown classic, High Noon. If you've never seen it, or can't quite remember it, give us your guess about the plot, and bonus points will be awarded for your best cowboy impression. Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 and tell us what you think! Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com, and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts.

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I thought about making Wizard Of Oz comparisons in my Letterbox review, but stuck to a more personal take. 

In the ep, Paul & Amy brought it up, but I actually think they make totally different arc/tales:

Dorothy goes to a magical wonderful land, still has to find her way home

ET goes to earth, hides in a closet, gets drunk, almost dies, and needs to get home asap

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It never occurred to me that kids don't get/see E.T. anymore. I definitely saw it in theaters but am young enough to not remember seeing it then. It was huge through the entire 80s though. So, for the younger posters here, did you grow up watching this? Are people here showing it to their kids?

Also, this isn't necessarily proof that Spielberg is the greatest loving director, but people winning Oscars sure like him.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/oscars-steven-spielberg-is-thanked-775639

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1 hour ago, grudlian. said:

It never occurred to me that kids don't get/see E.T. anymore. I definitely saw it in theaters but am young enough to not remember seeing it then. It was huge through the entire 80s though. So, for the younger posters here, did you grow up watching this? Are people here showing it to their kids?

 

I Tweeted this already, but I showed E.T to my 6-year-old and he loved it. He actually had to leave the room when E.T. was dying because he was so upset. I'm with Amy on the whole debate of whether kids will get it or not. They will get it, but they have to be exposed to it. To use on of Paul's examples, The Beatles are my favorite band, but it's not like I was alive when they were together. I didn't "discover" them until I was a teenager looooooong after they disbanded. I didn't have to be there to "get" them. The same thing can be said about The Wizard of Oz. Most of us have placed it pretty high on our personal lists and I dare say none of us were alive when it was released. Hell, for a lot of us our parents  weren't even born. Thinking kids won't "get" something just because it doesn't have cell phones or computers or something is pretty silly and doesn't give children a whole lot of credit.

And, yes, my kids love The Beatles too ;)

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26 minutes ago, CameronH said:

I Tweeted this already, but I showed E.T to my 6-year-old and he loved it. He actually had to leave the room when E.T. was dying because he was so upset. I'm with Amy on the whole debate of whether kids will get it or not. It's will get it, but they have to be exposed to it. To use on of Paul's examples, The Beatles are my favorite band, but it's not like I was alive when they were together. I didn't "discover" them until I was a teenager looooooong after they disbanded. I didn't have to be there to "get" them. The same thing can be said about The Wizard of Oz. Most of us have placed it pretty high on our personal lists and I dare say none of us were alive when it was released. Hell, for a lot of us our parents  weren't even born. Thinking kids won't "get" something just because it doesn't have cell phones or computers or something is pretty silly and doesn't give children a whole lot of credit.

And, yes, my kids love The Beatles too ;)

I don't see how any kid (with the attention span to make it through the movie) can not get upset at E.T.s death. It kills me as an adult. It killed me in elementary school. According to my parents, it killed me as a toddler. It's one of the hardest deaths in cinema in my mind but it's followed immediately by the most triumphant moment in cinema when he comes back to life.

I agree though. Kids seem pretty malleable. If you expose them to something, they often just assume that's the way the world is. I think they movie is well made enough that most kids won't even ask about cell phones. They be too sucked in. As an adult, I might say "with cell phones, this movie would be over in five minutes."

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To my surprise, I ranked ET as the number one movie on my personal AFI list. That isn’t to say that I think it’s the best made film we’ve seen so far, but it’s the first one in which I had a visceral, emotional response. Everything is structured so perfectly, that by the time the boys take their bikes to the streets, I was choking up. That moment distilled the whole movie for me. When the chips are down, despite their differences, these kids are going to do the right thing.

Also, the family dynamics were the best I’ve ever seen. The kids are spot on and Dee Wallace is amazing. Now that I have kids of my own, I totally get where she’s coming from. She’s in over head. She wants to break down and cry, but she’s not allowed to be a real person - she has to be “Mom” first. Even watching her stifle her laughter at “penis breath” was something I totally got. For example, my son was playing LEGO Batman a few months ago and cursed at Two-Face (“What the shit is with this guy?”). You struggle to be a parent, but at the same time, it’s pretty fucking funny.

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Amy used this for the Simpsons reference. I was conflicted because technically that "finger" shot doesn't actually exist in the movie. It's from the marketing.

E_t_the_extra_terrestrial_ver3.jpg

But the music is definitely E.T. inspired, so I think it has to count.

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Another thing I really liked and wanted to say about the kids and how they were portrayed in the movie was how when Elliot lets his brother and sister into his circle of trust, it's on the condition that they promise not to tell anyone "not even mom." I love how even though their mother is more or less a benevolent figure, she is still treated as "one of them" (i.e. an adult). 

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1 hour ago, CameronH said:

To my surprise, I ranked ET as the number one movie on my personal AFI list. That isn’t to say that I think it’s the best made film we’ve seen so far, but it’s the first one in which I had a visceral, emotional response. Everything is structured so perfectly, that by the time the boys take their bikes to the streets, I was choking up. That moment distilled the whole movie for me. When the chips are down, despite their differences, these kids are going to do the right thing.

This is where it gets difficult for me to rank things and why I don't do it. E. T. definitely has a stronger emotional impact on me than anything else covered so far. But does it have as much to say about the human condition as Citizen Kane? Does it depict loneliness and mental illness in a way Taxi Driver does? All these movies, in my mind, accomplish their goals but their goals are totally different. How do I even compare them? I could say "E.T. is better than Earth To Echo or Lilo and Stitch" but "E. T.  is better than Citizen Kane (or vice versa)" is difficult for me.

I'm not asking you or anyone to justify their opinion or rankings. I just don't see how it's possible.

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42 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

This is where it gets difficult for me to rank things and why I don't do it. E. T. definitely has a stronger emotional impact on me than anything else covered so far. But does it have as much to say about the human condition as Citizen Kane? Does it depict loneliness and mental illness in a way Taxi Driver does? All these movies, in my mind, accomplish their goals but their goals are totally different. How do I even compare them? I could say "E.T. is better than Earth To Echo or Lilo and Stitch" but "E. T.  is better than Citizen Kane (or vice versa)" is difficult for me.

I'm not asking you or anyone to justify their opinion or rankings. I just don't see how it's possible.

For me anyway, I'm mostly ranking them based on - not necessarily what's " best" (because that would be impossible) - but on how much I like them or how much they affect me personally. And even then, only in the context of the 100 movies presented to me by the AFI. Honestly, I was a bit hesitant to put it at number one, but then I was like, "You know what? Fuck it. This is 'Cameron H's' AFI list. This movie made me feel something and that's something none of the other movies have yet."

I mean, according to a Tweet from Amy, the Facebook group has been putting this below King Kong! That just seems insane to me. While King Kong was certainly groundbreaking, I didn't exactly "feel" anything while watching it. (Did anyone?) And since I'm not a professional critic, I don't feel like I have to judge these movies on their cultural impact, technological achievements, historical contexts, or whatever. I'm just going to rank them subjectively based on how much I like them as compared to the other movies on the list.

As far as I'm concerned, Art should make you feel something. E.T made me happy - which is a completely valid emotion. Art doesn't always have to be heavy, you know? I feel like people are too quick to poo-poo joy as something lightweight and not worthy of recognition, but it might be the most important emotion of all. 

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3 hours ago, grudlian. said:

I don't see how any kid (with the attention span to make it through the movie) can not get upset at E.T.s death. It kills me as an adult. It killed me in elementary school. According to my parents, it killed me as a toddler. It's one of the hardest deaths in cinema in my mind but it's followed immediately by the most triumphant moment in cinema when he comes back to life.

I agree though. Kids seem pretty malleable. If you expose them to something, they often just assume that's the way the world is. I think they movie is well made enough that most kids won't even ask about cell phones. They be too sucked in. As an adult, I might say "with cell phones, this movie would be over in five minutes."

I absolutely loved E.T. as a kid, and I haven't re-watched it in years because just thinking about E.T. dying tears a little hole in my heart.

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Hmm, technically I've ranked both E.T. and King Kong the same.  E.T. will certainly be ahead when the list is finished though.  You know what I felt about King Kong though?  Excitement.  I got some thrills out of it. 

I like rating things, and lists are a byproduct of that.  I used to think lists were useless, but making them (I mainly do it with music) forces me do those odd comparisons, and to be able to think through what I like and why and whether that art is successful in ways that speak to me.  Sure, it's personal.  But also, it's not?  Because certainly if we did our "favorite movies of 1982" lists, it'd probably be a similar collection of films.  There is a universality to 'favorites' too.

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also my plan is, in 82 weeks, to find all the lists of people who listened along with the pod and compile them and merge our individual rankings into one master one.  hopefully it's not just like 4 of us!

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14 minutes ago, CameronH said:

I mean, according to a Tweet from Amy, the Facebook group has been putting this below King Kong! That just seems insane to me. While King Kong was certainly groundbreaking, I didn't exactly "feel" anything while watching it. (Did anyone?) And since I'm not a professional critic, I don't feel like I have to judge these movies on their cultural impact, technological achievements, historical contexts, or whatever. I'm just going to rank them subjectively based on how much I like them as compared to the other movies on the list.

The Facebook group has had a lot of comments along the lines of "this movie is only on the list because of nostalgia" and "this is too sentimental/treacly" or "not Top 5 Spielberg." That seems nuts to me (and given the popularity the movie also carried with adults at the time, a bit wrong-headed to chalk it up to nostalgia), but I think there is a certain mistrust people have for movies that wear their emotions on their sleeves. Especially film bros on Facebook.

All I know is that this movie makes me weep every time I've seen it as an adult. I don't think it's nostalgia making me do that. I only remember watching it once as a child, so it's not something I cherished from that era. It's just that effective.

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Wait, looking at Amy's tweet, I think she means ET is ranked BETTER than King Kong.  She says the result  "warms her heart" so I think she and the group are pro-ET, right?
 

I'm not clear at all how FB groups ratings are compiled though.  

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8 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Wait, looking at Amy's tweet, I think she means ET is ranked BETTER than King Kong.  She says the result  "warms her heart" so I think she and the group are pro-ET, right?
 

I'm not clear at all how FB groups ratings are compiled though.  

Well, shit! I think you’re right! I was thinking “lower in popularity” when she obviously meant “lower numerically.” I’m a dummy. Sorry, I didn’t mean to mischaracterize Amy or the FB group.  

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I don't get why she's so surprised at that though!  The people who listen to pods and rate on FB almost certainly will be all over E.T.  *shrug*

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1 hour ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

The Facebook group has had a lot of comments along the lines of "this movie is only on the list because of nostalgia" and "this is too sentimental/treacly" or "not Top 5 Spielberg." That seems nuts to me (and given the popularity the movie also carried with adults at the time, a bit wrong-headed to chalk it up to nostalgia), but I think there is a certain mistrust people have for movies that wear their emotions on their sleeves. Especially film bros on Facebook.

All I know is that this movie makes me weep every time I've seen it as an adult. I don't think it's nostalgia making me do that. I only remember watching it once as a child, so it's not something I cherished from that era. It's just that effective.

Here’s where the nostalgia argument falls flat for me: I don’t remember watching ET as a kid. Like, I know I did, but I have absolutely no memory of it. 

The first time I remember watching ET was when I was in college - and I thought it was okay. It wasn’t until recently (last couple of years) where I really started to love it.

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The nostalgia argument falls for me, basically because I saw it young, age 7 or so, that it scared me and I never wanted to watch it again.  I have some sort of anti-nostalgia for the film.  

Anyway I tried to bring some more attention to our discussions :)
 

 

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I should also say that despite the forcefulness of some of the negative comments, E.T. is easily winning the Facebook poll for "Does this belong on the list?" by about a 2-to-1 margin.

And the Facebook group doesn't always vote for a movie. I think Swing Time and The Sixth Sense both failed.

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1 hour ago, CameronH said:

Here’s where the nostalgia argument falls flat for me: I don’t remember watching ET as a kid. Like, I know I did, but I have absolutely no memory of it. 

The first time I remember watching ET was when I was in college - and I thought it was okay. It isn’t until recently (last couple of years) where I really started to love it.

Yeah, I don't remember if very well from childhood either.

It got me when the "special edition" came out in 2002 and I saw it in theaters. I would have been 21 or 22 at the time. Waterworks at the end of it. I immediately understood its power.

And it's not because it's cute and sentimental, though it is that at times. It's that it takes that sentimentality and teaches kids and parents the hard lesson about learning to let go of something you love, because even though it may hurt, it's sometimes necessary. That's what brings the tears for me: the kind of simultaneous happy/sad emotions of the ending.

To what Paul said on the podcast, yes, I think E.T. does also represent the absent father, in an abstract way. He comes in and kind of fills a hole in this family's life, and then also shows them how to deal with his eventual absence ("I'll be right here"). I think it's a remarkably deep movie in that way, and hardly the pure treacle its detractors would claim.

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19 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

Yeah, I don't remember if very well from childhood either.

It got me when the "special edition" came out in 2002 and I saw it in theaters. I would have been 21 or 22 at the time. Waterworks at the end of it. I immediately understood its power.

And it's not because it's cute and sentimental, though it is that at times. It's that it takes that sentimentality and teaches kids and parents the hard lesson about learning to let go of something you love, because even though it may hurt, it's sometimes necessary. That's what brings the tears for me: the kind of simultaneous happy/sad emotions of the ending.

To what Paul said on the podcast, yes, I think E.T. does also kind of represent the absent father, in an abstract way. He comes in and kind of fills a hole in this family's life, and then also shows them how to deal with his eventual absence ("I'll be right here"). I think it's a remarkably deep movie in that way, and hardly the pure treacle its detractors would claim.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say ET represents a father figure, but his presence does help ameliorate some of the pain they feel at that loss. I feel like, at the beginning, each one of them is dealing with the father in a different way. They’re at a crossroads. They could easily be driven apart. Instead, ET comes in and strengthens their familial bond. ET is a reminder that they still have each other and that selfless love still exists.

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