Tuesday, 8 July 2014

E.T. (4½ Stars)

This was the first film at the 2014 Brindley Place Film Festival. The correct spelling is "Brindleyplace", but that looks so weird to me that I'll spell it the way I think it ought to be spelt.

An alien expedition to the Earth is quietly collecting flowers, when they're surprised by government agents. Being a peaceful race they flee rather than defending themselves. Their spaceship leaves in a hurry, accidentally leaving behind one of their crew. He hides in the shed of a house near the forest, where a 10-year-old boy called Elliott finds him. Elliott takes him into the house to look after him. He only tells his brother and sister about the alien, who he calls E.T. But the government knows an alien is hiding somewhere and continues the search.

It's a heart-warming story about a young boy and his imaginary friend, except that in this case the friend turns out to be real. It's sentimental and moving for both children and adults.

When the film was made in 1982 it was the highest grossing film ever, earning $790 million on a $10 million budget. It's called a science fiction film, but I've always thought of it as a children's film. It's the children, especially the younger children Elliott and Gertie, who steal the show. They're so natural, such skilled actors. Drew Barrymore (Gertie) has gone on to become one of Hollywood's top actors. Henry Thomas (Elliott) has also been successful, though to a lesser extent.

In 2002 the film was re-released  with inproved computer animation and a few extra scenes. Among other things, the government agents were made less menacing by digitally removing their guns when they chase the children. Interestingly, Steven Spielberg has recently said that he thinks the original version was better. Most DVD releases contain both versions, so you can decide for yourself. As far as I could tell, it was the 2002 version that was shown today.

The organizers haven't learnt anything from their mistakes last year. There still aren't enough beanbags. When I asked, they said that it's because people stole bags last year, but when I looked round I couldn't see any evidence of this; there seemed to be the same inadequate number of bags as last year. However, the problem wasn't as acute, since the weather was colder this year, meaning that less people came. I'd estimate there were about 50 in attendance.

Big praise for the free popcorn with a smile. I don't eat popcorn, but I enjoyed the smile.

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