John Williams – Flying theme from ET

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An evening pause: I have always thought Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) to be incredibly over-rated, poorly edited, shallow with a predictable script, and not very interesting. Why the public went mad for it in 1982 always baffled me. Nonetheless, Williams’ score was and is magnificent, and a listen here might explain that madness somewhat.

Hat tip Danae.


  • Phil Berardelli

    I agree with you completely, Bob, and I share your bemusement about the movie’s success — though it does have its moments. Its two low points, I think, are the (spoiler alert) “death” of E.T., which Spielberg uses as an excuse to pull tears from the audience, only to fake them out moments later, and setting up the possibility that law enforcement people would actually shoot a group of children on bicycles. Aside from David Lean, Spielberg is probably the most visually gifted director the movie industry has ever produced, and when he’s good, he’s superb. But he’s also made a bunch of clunkers in his long career, and I’d place “E.T.” among them.

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Spielberg is the Cecil B. DeMille of our time. DeMille was considered the biggest of the big during his career, producing blockbuster after blockbuster, each making tons of money as people flocked to see them. Within a decade after he stopped making films, however, all but one of his films, The Ten Commandments, were practically forgotten. The reason? They generally were schlocky soap operas with shallow characters and overblown effects. It was fun watching them once but afterward no one had any interest in seeing them again.

    I think for Spielberg it will be the same.

  • Phil Berardelli

    I disagree, Bob, for the simple reason that so many of Spielberg’s films remain eminently watchable and even thrilling after repeat screenings. “Jaws,” “Close Encounters,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Jurassic Park” are still enormous crowd-pleasers. “Empire of the Sun” is a visual masterpiece and a film that even the author of the source novel said probed aspects of story even he hadn’t considered. “Schindler’s List” is as shattering on its third viewing as it was at first. “The Color Purple’s” finale brings tears each and every time. “Amistad” features in Djimon Hounsou one of the most astounding acting debuts I’ve ever seen, surpassing his costar, the great Anthony Hopkins. The D-Day assault in “Saving Private Ryan” is as vivid and harrowing a depiction of battle as anything in the history of cinema. “Catch Me If You Can” is as pleasing a caper movie as “Charade,” and its emotional underpinnings are far deeper. “Munich,” which I just screened again a few days ago, is impeccably crafted. And “Lincoln” captures the spirit of the man better than anything else I’ve seen. That’s a dozen titles I’m willing to bet will remain permanently at the height of American moviemaking and will be, for the most part, as familiar decades from now as they were on release. Meanwhile, who remembers the director of “The Matrix” series, or “Fast and Furious,” or “Transformers,” or “Toy Story,” and so on? I think Spielberg is justifiably famous. Not bad for a movie-crazy kid from Cincinnati who studied filmmaking at UCSD under — Jerry Lewis.

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