By Anna

I blocked so much of E.T. out as a kid—the “bad guy” scientists and the decrepit grayness E.T. became as he struggled to survive on earth.

I know, that’s practically the whole film, but what I remembered was the tenderness E.T. showed toward Elliot, Gerti and Mike.

Since most children’s first experience with death is the death of a pet, E.T. fits perfectly in relaying the message that even though those we love have to leave earth, they are always in our hearts and minds. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s a comfort to kids, and adults—earth slowly kills us all.

The film opens in the wooded forest of Northern California with E.T. being left behind as his family flees the humans hunting them. No one speaks for the first eight and a half minutes as John Williams’ score floods the green vegetation and ears of the audience.  This first eight minutes is a perfect snippet of the entire film’s simplicity: from Elliot showing E.T. who Boba Fett is to Elliot and E.T.’s final bike flying together. The story is basic, yet affects all of us on the deepest level. It is love and mystery that keeps humanity alive beyond reasonable understanding in a world that is full of violence and hate.

From E.T.’s first breath on earth all he wanted was to explore and find a place of safety (and maybe Reese’s Pieces), and Elliot gave him this.

Steven Spielberg created a masterpiece because he used a simple storyline and instilled the knowledge of E.T. and Elliot’s love in his audience, without having to explain anything—and we are enraptured by it.

Ebert’s review of E.T. was formatted like a letter to his grandchildren. He watched E.T. with them and was astonished at their critique of the film: “…the adults don’t take him (Elliot) seriously. A kid knows what that feels like.”

With childlike astonishment we watch, laugh and cry. In the end we remember truly what it was like to be a kid—riding around our neighborhood on bikes, and with tears, we watch E.T. leave earth.

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