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E.T. the Extra Terrestrial : The Result is a Masterpiece

Array ( [0] => ENGL 4360 Spring 2017 [1] => no-show [2] => student exhibit )

The Result is a Masterpiece

Image from the film. Shows the children flying through the sky after escaping from the police at the end of the film.

Film Success

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was one of Spielberg’s greatest achievements; according to Box Office Mojo, when adjusted for inflation, the film has made the fourth highest gross of all time (boxofficemojo.com). E.T. was his most successful in terms of revenue. Spielberg’s combination of alien supernatural occurances and suburban reality created an incredibly loved film. The use of a mysterious film elements created such an interesting atmosphere of uncertainty and possibility, which when in contact with Elliott, was able to provide answers for the concerns he was dealing with. The authentic human characters and normal day to day situations made the film seem relatable, in many ways, to a large audience. As Andrew Gordon, in his article “E.T. as Fairy Tale” puts it, “For children, E.T. is a voyage of emotional discovery, for adults, a rediscovery of feeling we thought we had lost or outgrown”(Gordon, 303). With the target audience being kids, each of the three siblings could appeal to a different age a children viewing the movie. With the film appealing to such a wide audience, it became the highest grossing movie of it’s time, beating the current records of another film that Spielberg made, Jaws; both films were made early in the modern blockbuster process that Spielberg played a huge role in. E.T. had an incredible heart warming impact with a happy ending, and would pave the way for future science fiction films to come that would involve children and their experiences with the extraterrestrial.

The Link's Influence

The link between reality and the supernatural in this film as a means of displaying childhood conflicts and their solutions played a large role in the success of the movie. Gordon argues that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial depicts a fairy tale environment that is suitable for all children, while the characters experience meaningful conflicts throughout the film. His argument goes along with mine, in that this film depicts childhood conflict, and because of this, it adds to the films greatness and the film is successful. Spielberg was able to create a masterpiece by combining realistic problems with a non-realistic environment; attracting people who either wanted to see a cool sci-fi film or a family friendly film, or both.

Paving the Way

While E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial wasn’t the first film to put aliens in a realistic environment, it was definitely one of the most iconic films to do so, and it used the lurking factor of childhood conflict within its reality. This film paved the way for other films and shows that have used children in a realistic setting being affected by supernatural sources, and the film continues to be used today. Two great examples of film being that E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial had an influence on are Super 8 and Stranger Things. The film, Super 8, has direct ties with E.T. because Steven Spielberg was a producer for the film. The film stars children in a realistic environment dealing with alien activity, just like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The Netflix original series Stranger Things, a currently running, popular show, also depicts kids in the same kind of setting, once again, dealing with aliens. The show goes so far as to copy E.T. with scenes of the characters on their bikes, levitation special effects, and much more. These shows and movies that copy aspects of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, do so because the films was an incredible depiction of the conflicts mixed with extra-terrestrial elements that are discussed in this exhibit. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial has influenced films since its creation, and will continue to do so, because of its incredibly accurate depiction childhood conflict in a sci-fi genre.


"All Time Box Offices-Domestic Grosses." IMDb.com, Inc. 1990-2017. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm

Gordon, Andrew. "E.T. as Fairy Tale." Science Fiction Studies. 1983, Vol. 10, p.298-305.