E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

In 1982, Steven Spielberg created E.T., a classic of popcorn cinema about a stranded extraterrestrial and his enduring friendship with a young boy.

Plot

The young Elliot (Henry Thomas) can scarcely believe his eyes when he finds a small alien in his backyard shed. The giddy goblin had to be left behind by his colleagues on Earth during an exploration of the planet, because they were in danger of being discovered by humans. Elliot tries to hide his mysterious friend from his parents, his sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore), and above all the government’s scientists. E.T. must have his distant relatives sunk, as he gets weaker and weaker.

Background

When Henry Thomas auditioned for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, he was told to play one of the saddest scenes. He thought of his recently deceased dog, and brought Steven Spielberg his photograph to cry. He was hired on the spot. The photos of Carl Sandburg, Albert Einstein and mops have been attributed as inspiration for the face of ET. The signature scene, in which the mother looks in the closet full of cuddly toys, originated from an idea by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future). The script by Steven Spielberg was originally conceived as much gloomier. In his first draft, a family of aliens was to be a source of terror for the household. He ultimately decided on the E.T. variant and made the film Poltergeist out of the rest of the screenplay. Later, the film served as an inspriation for a notorious video game by ATARI. The result is often described as the greatest commercial failure in video game history. It was rumored to be so bad that ATARI buried millions of unsold copies in the Texas desert (later immortalized in a documentary).