friday film
e.t. : the extra-terrestrial (1982)

image from here

image from here

A Steven Spielberg film
4 Oscar wins and 4 nominations

28 years ago today, E.T. was released.

I was four or five years old and in kindergarten. It would have been the first movie I saw in the cinema if I had watched it in the cinema, but my uncle somehow acquired a pirated Betamax video so I watched it in my grandmother's house with my cousins. I was probably too young to appreciate the movie anyway. I mean, things prolly wouldn't have made that much sense to me even if the screen wasn't fuzzy and mostly blue and if the dialogues didn't sound so honky. All I could tell was there was this kid named Elliot who found an ugly little alien with a glowing finger and super powers, and there was this other kid who was cute and blonde and she screamed, and this little alien wanted to phone home until his parents came over and picked him up.

E.T. has been played on television over and over through the years and I've eventually grasped a better understanding of the story. I believe there's supposed to be something heartwarming in there, but the sight of the little brown extraterrestrial is just too distracting.

Before I go on, let me just make it clear to the host of Gen-Xers who most likely count E.T. as one of their favorite movies of all time that I am not dissing the movie. I'm just recounting my experience as a preschooler who first watched it on a poor Betamax copy... and incidentally remembering the trauma of when my yaya told me that E.T. was taking me away to another planet because I was a bad girl. :p


From the start, I thought that alien was freaking ugly. Freaking nightmarishly ugly.

I couldn't quite get why people around me seemed to think he was adorable. First of all, he was brown - the color of muck, crap, lizards and flea-ridden stray dogs. And he was wrinkly, like my great-grandmother whose idea of recreation was to terrorize kids. I didn't care that his eyes were blue, he was ugly (my great-grandma's eyes were blue too, by the way). He was especially disgusting when Elliot found him dried-up and near-dying by a ditch, skin all flaky and ribs sticking out like tuyo. If not for the children in it, I would have felt like I was watching a horror flick. I kinda thought that if those movie-makers designed a make-believe alien for a family movie, they could have at least made him smooth, furry and not brown.

I did not understand why kids would want this looking back at them as they went to sleep.

I did not want one, but we had one.

Likenesses of the bug-eyed alien were ubiquitous. Scenes from the movie were spoofed or referenced everywhere - and since the flick was so vastly popular, the referencing went on for years. Everyone was raving about E.T. and I couldn't understand why. My classmates at preschool would narrate their own versions of the movie, including ones in which they inserted themselves (or ones in which they inserted the movie characters in their own lives), and I just couldn't appreciate it. Every kid wanted a bike with a basket just like Elliot's, just so they had a place to stow an alien in case they found one and needed to drive him around.

Some unforgettable scenes from E.T.

Stills from

It makes me wonder - where is that kid who played Elliot now?

We all know how that blonde cutie who played Elliot's kid sister turned out. Drew Barrymore went from child star to underaged drug addict to denim ad model to soft-porn star to one of today's hottest leading ladies.


To this day, when I see old pictures of E.T., I still think fried chicken. Maybe because Kentucky Fried Chicken (now known as KFC) gave away plastic E.T. toys back in '82 - I'm not sure.

E.T. is legendary. But I'm still not a fan. I still think he's disgusting, and just to avoid seeing his pathetic, wrinkly face, I'd rather not look at the screen directly. I've eventually gotten over my fear of being picked up by aliens and shipped off to another planet of course. But in two years when the movie's 30th anniversary comes round, I don't think I'll be purchasing the digitally-mastered commemorative video, nor be watching it with friends who want to revisit their happy childhoods. I'd much rather re-watch Annie, which was released a week after E.T. and was eclipsed by the Spielberg sci-fi smash. I loved Annie much more than E.T. as a little girl - and I think I'll be reminiscing about Annie next Friday.
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