DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
Jaws defined the Summer Blockbuster in 1975; Then Close Encounters secured the fledgling Steven Spielberg as a popularist tour de force in late 70’s but by 1982 when E.T. was first released, he also had the first Indiana Jones hit under belt. But it was his 1981 Special Edition of Close Encounters which will obviously become relevant as a trend-setter for director’s who either by studio pressure of a failure to fully realise their visions, to revisit their previous hits.
But E.T. was a phenomenal hit, at a time of Ewoks and Muppets, when Spielberg went through his phase of making saccharine sweet kids films and the period that even at the time, I disliked the most. The 70’s brought us an edgier Spielberg, with broken homes and very real takes on families but E.T. takes this and portayed a single mother of three children as rather weak and ineffective, in contrast to those who had come before.
Some might argue that it’s not about her, rather it’s about the child’s eye view of the world as a whole, but I don’t think that it works. But more to the point, I simply don’t see the point! The story seems to be paper-thin and can be summed up with a sentence rather than a paragraph. “Boy meets alien and alien goes home”.
The music is good, the direction is good for what it is, but the tone is confused, misguided and only half done. The edginess just isn’t there and the production seems cheap by comparison to his other movies, even Jaws which was done on the cheap by comparison.
Overall, I feel that this film is one of the most overrated and boring films that I’ve ever seen and the Special Edition does not help. And I also take unbridge with the fact that he’s opted to digitally remove the guns in favour of walkie-talkies in this version, again talking any semblance of edginess out of this sugar-coated tome.
I love Spielberg’s work, but the 1980’s were not his strongest period in my opinion personally I favour his early classics and his post Jurassic Park/Schindler’s List works.