Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Stalking E.T.

Do not attempt this at home.
By the early 1980s, Steven Spielberg was already becoming a household name with movies like Jaws, Close Encounters and Raiders of the Lost Ark firmly tucked under his director's belt. But 1982 would turn out to be the year ol' Steve would finally earn his place amongst the most successful movie makers of the 20th century with the release of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, a sci-fi-esque tale about a boy and his xenobiological buddy from outer space. While Spielberg's pal, George Lucas (of Star Wars fame) had already taught Hollywood how to make tons of cash by filming plastic models, blue screens and puppets, the box office earnings of Steven's E.T. proved that in the end, all they really needed was the puppets. Even without the fantastic space battles and over-the-top effects, E.T. managed to capture the imaginations of 80s moviegoers by expertly pulling their heart-strings in a totally non-stupid way and in doing so introduced them to the then-budding genre of the "feel-good-movie," something that pretty much only Disney had dabbled with up to that point.

Unlike Star Wars, the story of E.T. is not set in a galaxy far, far away and in fact takes place entirely on our own planet, which may help explain the film's more universal appeal. Instead of trying to digest a menagerie of alien peoples and bizarre locales, viewers quickly embraced the story of a single, out-of-place alien set against the backdrop of a comfortably familiar suburban America. The realistic accessibility of the film's settings, coupled with the emotional artillery of Spielberg's vision, is why, I believe, so many stalkers fans have sought these locations out, in hopes of reconnecting with their childhood memories and feelings, basically the same reason I write this blog.

Well if you were one of those kids whose favorite candy suddenly became Reese's Pieces because of this adorable little puppet invader alien, then check out this video by amateur filmmaker, Herve Attia. In it, he nicely dovetails contemporary photos of the various E.T. filming locations into original scenes from the film and surprisingly, many of the areas he visited haven't changed much in the last 30 years. The video is very well done and worth a look, especially if you're a fan. But if you're not, then go visit or something and read about bacon, which in fact, is not really that geeky no matter what they claim.