“ET l’extraterrestre” turns 40, the return to the cinema and an exhibition in Milan

C.on that wrinkled face and the immense ones blue eyesthe retractable neck and the hoarse voice, ET the extraterrestrial it is certainly ageless. But even the fantastic characters have their birthday, and for him this year is 40 rounds since the release of the film. A story innovative in which thealienthe different par excellence, he is a friend wise and kind from the disarming tenderness. A tenderness which, as in the most evangelical of messages, is welcomed first by the little ones and only later by the grown-ups, who see him as a threat from outer space.

There are many initiatives to celebrate the masterpiece of Steven Spielbergwinner of 9 Academy Awards including one for special effects taken care of by ours Carlo Rambaldi. From the TCM Classic Film Festival from Los Angelesfour days of parties, interviews and screenings a ET La Mostra 1982-2022 here at Milan Film Archive from the November 6 – in collaboration with the Carlo Rambaldi Cultural Foundation. And of course, from Universal Picture Home Entertainment, there is one new collector’s edition of the film in Blu-ray and in 4K full of new contents special unpublished.

ET between science fiction, adventure and empathy

“Ok, kid, you got the job” (“Ok kid, the role is yours”). With these words ends thehearing of the young man Henry Thomasvying for the part of Elliottprotagonist of the film together with the little sister Gertie (a Drew Barrymore just six years old) and al brother greater Michael (Robert MacNaughton). Little Thomas – whom we would see again as an adult in Wind of passions (1994) and Gangs of New York (2002) – had just done the feat: to be able to cry over a audition which still creeps up today. A skill, that of create empathyto move, which is the very heart of success of the film.

As Henry Thomas stated in an interview with CNN, the script of the film had initially left him perplexed. For an eight year old boy who grew up with Indiana Jones And Star Wars confront a extraterrestrial wrinkled and decidedly meek it didn’t seem like an exciting challenge. “I remember reading the script and thinking: ‘But there is no duel with the laser? No spaceships, battles, fights? ‘». Once shooting started, everything changed. The very young actors became fond of the story in which they knew how to enter with absolute spontaneity. Spielberg had managed to make it credible and deeply touching L’friendship between child and small alien.

When the extraterrestrial is more than human

In fact, as everyone knows, L’spaceship in the film there is and how and it is the one, glowing with colored lights, with which ET and his colleagues go down to Earth to take plant samples. Nothing could be further from the terrifying aliens than more or less contemporary films like Alien (Ridley Scott1979) or The thing (John Carpenter1982) in which the extraterrestrial it is always one threat cruelelusive and with a thousand faces, one more hideous than the other.

As well as ET is exactly beautiful, indeed. Turtle from the periscope head, awkward body And long fingers with healing powersdoes not even fall into the category of “cute”, of the cute-tender, if it were not for it very human gaze and the range of verses they encompass purring, clucking and words real pronounced by a hoarse, slow voicefrom which emotions emerge immediately.

Henry Thomas is Elliott. (Ipa)

“ET phone home”

Everyone more or less knows the story: an alien just landed in the woods of California he detaches himself from his companions to observe the distant lights of the city. At that moment, exponents of the government of United Statesalarmed by the sighting, e the spaceship starts again at full speed leaving it on the ground. Later the young man Elliott Taylor finds out casually thealien in a cornfield and manages to lure him into the house with the Thumbel method: scattering candies along the way. The extraterrestrial will join him at homewhere he will get to know his brothers, not without some startled (historical the scream of the little one Gertie to the first close encounter).

Drew Barrymore, the battle with alcoholism:

Thus begins a delicate (e very hidden) domestic partnership with the extraterrestrial, baptized ETwhich owns several powers: the ability to levitate objects, cure the wounds And regenerate plants through the touch of his luminous fingertip. Elliott and ET learn a to communicate on several levels, to the point of developing a special empathic connection which will allow them to pass the tests that await them.

Despite thefriendship between the two and the protection offered by Elliott – from whose loving didactic genius many educators would have to learn – ET begins to feel unwell and manifests the desire to go home, her house. Hence one of the most famous phrases of cinema ever: “ET phone home”. A concentrate of nostalgia which touches deep chords in children as in adults.

Drew Barrymore (Gertie). (IPA)

Telling a story to overcome a trauma

And it is precisely the nostalgia of homeof a’membershipof a’origin distant in time and space to provide the emotional figure of the film, in which the theme science fiction fits a context intimate, dailyin a mix of comedy, adventure and drama. A story in which there are no villains to defeat but only secrets to keep to protect something fragile and precious, unknown and therefore potentially threatening.

The humansin the form of scientists and of government agentsthey are not evil but lonely arrogant and frightened. Their fear makes them dull, the craving for control over the “different” par excellence that is the extraterrestrial makes them threatening but curiously powerless. A disproportionate deployment of forces denouncing i limits of the human speciesas hostile as the most hostile of aliens. Sara the love of a child to save ET and allow him to to return at home, not imposing equipment from isolation prepared by doctors when the creature risks dying (and Elliott with him). In the eyes of a spectator post pandemic those scenes are doubly touching.

ET 1982-2022the exhibition at the Cineteca Milano

Never before has the message of ET the extraterrestrial it is current and universal. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film’s release, on Saturday November 5th at the Cineteca Milano Arlecchino the little alien returns to Earth with a special screening accompanied by the greeting of Henry Thomas and from the preview in exclusive of a video contribution from Spielberg. In the foyer of the cinema there Kuwahara bicycleprotagonist of one of the most iconic scenes of the film, will be available to all dreamers for an escape to the moon and a souvenir photo.

Carlo Rambaldi, Oscar for the special visual effects of “ET”. (Cineteca di Milano in collaboration with the Carlo Rambaldi Cultural Foundation)

But that’s not all. Cineteca Milano MIC Interactive Museum of Cinema opens on 6 November ET The 1982-2022 exhibition, a unique exhibition in Italy, curated by Cineteca Milano in collaboration with the Carlo Rambaldi Cultural Foundation. A journey through different arts and visual forms in the universe of ET in which they can be admired forty exhibits from the film restoredtogether with paintings, gadget vintage, masks, VHS, vinyls, posters e videogame. And then original projects, films, drawings and photographs, restored by the Cineteca paper laboratory in collaboration with lBrera Academy. To embellish the exhibition, the projection of a documentary on the restoration of ET made by Victor Rambaldi. It will be possible to take selfies with ET, dub the most famous sequences of the film (if you can!) And see unedited scenes.

“For our part,” says the director of Cineteca Milano Matteo Pavesi«We think the ultimate sense to show ET today is not only to celebrate forty years of a masterpiece, but to convey a message of peace e hospitality in which the fragility it is not a weakness but the awareness of the most intimate nature in the world. “

Sweet but not mushy: an inclusive and universal message

Mind you, it’s not that ET the extraterrestrialnet of all the prizes he has won and the worldwide resonance, must necessarily please everyone. Some children have loved the little extraterrestrial since bright heart and the big blue eyes, other they are left frightened. There soundtrackwhich won an Oscar, makes you dream and amplifies already very strong emotions: in these times of contained enthusiasm it can be almost intrusive how long iconic.

But the parable of ET remains and is a story of inclusiveness, but without the rhetoric that often accompanies this word. And that in our time when everything has to be done five minutes ago reminds us of the wonder from connect to each other also in absence of the Internet. ET talks about the Self in relation to the Other: us, only of thatalien named Ego.


“ET l’extraterrestre” turns 40, the return to the cinema and an exhibition in Milan – iO Donna