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Summer of 1982 - Nordling's Seeing E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL This Weekend!

Nordling here.

E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL is my favorite movie of all time.  It likely always will be.  That's not to say that I'm closing myself off from other movie experiences, but too many personal things are wrapped up in E.T. for me to think otherwise.  If you're curious, you can read my take on it from back in 2007, when we did a 1982 retrospective - it's all right here.

This weekend, the Alamo Drafthouse is playing E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL as part of its Summer of 1982 Celebration.  30 years ago this weekend, my life changed.  Honestly, it changed before that, when I saw JAWS for the first time, but that weekend solidified it for me - if I did nothing else in life, I was going to figure out how to turn my love of movies into something more.  I'm obsessed with movies, and it's due to the work of Steven Spielberg.

I have no idea if any special guests are coming to Austin's screening on Friday, and I don't care - seeing my favorite film of all time, in my favorite movie theater of all time, is something I cannot pass up.  I'll be in Austin on Friday, savoring every last moment of this movie that means more to me than almost anything, with the exception of my family.  I'll likely cry - hell, it's a certainty, because I always cry at E.T.  The day I stop crying at it is a day I hope never comes.

Texas, check your local Alamo Drafthouse listings - it's playing at both the Houston and Austin locations, and leave your cynicism at the door.  If you've never seen this movie, you should make an effort to go and see it in the theater.  E.T. is childhood writ large and I can't wait to see it again.

There's one thing that my E.T. review did for me, something that I'll cherish forever and it's something I have hanging at my office at work.  It's gotten me through some rough patches (and when Talkback gets particularly nasty, I look up at it and smile), and I'll probably have the damn thing buried with me.  Thank you, Mr. Spielberg, for the movie that's changed my life forever.  Hope to see you all this weekend.

Nordling, out.  Follow me on Twitter!

Readers Talkback
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  • June 5, 2012, 10:13 p.m. CST

    Perfect Organism Part 2, please.

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

  • June 5, 2012, 10:32 p.m. CST

    Thanks Nord!

    by ltgalloway

    E.T. was the first movie I saw theatrically. It shaped my childhood in ways I can't calculate. Thanks for putting it into words for us!

  • June 5, 2012, 10:34 p.m. CST

    Perfect Organism Part 3 and Part 4 before the U.S. Prometheus midnight release, please.

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    And thank you, I enjoyed Perfect Organism: Alien Resurrection. Ever since Firefly debuted, I saw Alien: Resurrection as the unofficial shiny pilot.

  • June 5, 2012, 10:35 p.m. CST

    Stop the slamming

    by Glenn

    "ET over JAWS is just idiotic." Quit it. Quit the asinine assailing. Stipulate to yourself that both films are of renowned, respected quality, that their stories are apples and oranges to each other (thank you Fincher for that particular quote), and exult in the pleasure that both films give to people. Stop with the 8th-grade mentality. Just stop it. And I know, just after my post, you'll begin hurling your childish epithets for me calling you on the carpet to grow up. Understand that everyone else reading this talkback will see you as the crybaby.

  • June 5, 2012, 10:35 p.m. CST

    E.T. love...

    by vettebro

    I just don't get it. Cool letter from Steven Spielberg though.

  • That's not an easy combination to get right.

  • June 5, 2012, 10:41 p.m. CST

    E.T. is true movie making


    Spielberg in top form....not making a movie aimed for kids....or making a serious movie aimed for adults...just made a really good movie with great characters..and viewed its audience as intelligent.... I cant even imagine any writer/director that could even come close to making this type of movie..... IF 3500-4000 theaters were available in 82....ET would shatter all box office records for good......

  • June 5, 2012, 10:53 p.m. CST

    that letter

    by Georgepeppard

    is great. Good job, Nordling, be proud of that.

  • June 5, 2012, 10:56 p.m. CST

    Could have the best soundtrack of all time.

    by dead youngling

  • June 5, 2012, 11:02 p.m. CST

    Thank You, Nordling

    by Ryang

    Like you, E.T. is my favorite movie. Although I was from the late 80's, I watched the heck out of that VHS. My grandma told me later that I would re-watch it over and over, never growing tired of it. Ironically- I would have nightmares/waking-nightmares of E.T. for years, afraid of glowing red lights, etc.,- so I can't quite say I liked the little fella for quite some time. Haha. There's so many feelings and memories with E.T. It feels just so personal to me and I don't mind if other people don't get it. It's what I grew up with. It's something that can't be taken away. I'm always happy to see others who have such an interest. Back in '09, I got to take a trip cross country to Cali. I made sure to visit some locations where it was filmed. It was surreal. Here's some clips: -Love that Alamo advert poster, btw.

  • June 5, 2012, 11:15 p.m. CST

    rumourd's right

    by slone13

    redwhitenegro is a crybaby.

  • June 5, 2012, 11:17 p.m. CST

    E.T. on blu-ray this year right?

    by lv_426

    I haven't seen E.T. for awhile. Looking forward to it on blu without the changes that Spielberg made when he did that director's cut about a decade ago. I know it is your favorite movie Nordling, but I gotta go with Close Encounters for my Spielberg alien movies. CE3K just takes the prize by a hair. It would be cool if they did an E.T. and CE3K double feature theatrical rerelease this year.

  • June 5, 2012, 11:25 p.m. CST

    I want one of those letters!

    by craig

    In twenty years I'll write about how much I hated War Of The Worlds

  • June 5, 2012, 11:30 p.m. CST

    Enjoy your weekend. I am jealous.

    by adeceasedfan

    Awesome....fucking awesome letter btw.

  • June 5, 2012, 11:51 p.m. CST

    I shall be there. Really want to get my little boy that poster.

    by zillabeast

    The other day at KHAN I had the "Where's the Beef?" Burger they are running for the Summer of '82 series. It's a freaking hoss. 14oz of greasy, grilled goodness.

  • June 6, 2012, 12:01 a.m. CST

    wesome - grats, and enjoy the movie :)

    by Jacob Underhill

  • June 6, 2012, 12:25 a.m. CST

    The "iconic" bicycle scene is cringe worthy.


  • June 6, 2012, 12:27 a.m. CST

    ET blu

    by Greg Lewis

    Love this movie, and can't wait for the blu this fall. However, someone please tell me why neither that, or the original DVD, contains the deleted scenes that were on the laserdisc, including the one with Harrison Ford as Elliot's principal.

  • June 6, 2012, 12:50 a.m. CST


    by UCFKevin

    That letter is incredible. How'd you get the jizz stains out?

  • I remember picking up the *ultimate gift set* for the third bonus DVD, but even that didn't have the LD extras. The Digital Bits* has a summary of the yet-to-be-released Blu-ray, which also doesn't mention the 1982 deleted scenes: The LD stuff not appearing on the upcoming Blu *is* definitely unusual.

  • June 6, 2012, 1:25 a.m. CST

    by myneighbortotoro

    Great read,made my day!

  • They're both stories of ordinary people, that through some bizarre quirk of fate, encounter something strange that will take them on a journey that changes them.

  • June 6, 2012, 1:37 a.m. CST


    by LT Weezie

    ET isn't the only film that has some extras exclusive to them. The Annotated STAR WARS discs and the GODFATHER SAGA, which is a huge epic recutting of all three movies and many MANY added scenes are a few others. Still have all my discs and DVDs. Eventually will try to replace what I can with Blu-Ray, but if the Blu-Ray doesn't have the same extras, I'll hang onto the Laserdisc and/or DVD version. If the Blu-Ray version content matches, I donate my standard DVDs to our local library. Please don't laugh about Laserdiscs, CAV discs are amazing, especially the freeze-frame capability (How about the WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and JURASSIC PARK one-frame bloops gems only Laserdiscs can show). But then I still have and play my precious Betamaxs (although I am going to eventually try to convert them to DVD) so I embrace the new technology and the old!

  • June 6, 2012, 1:41 a.m. CST

    I'm with ya Nordling.

    by RedJester

    ET was probably the first film I ever saw that truly exemplified the magic that is film making. Wonderful film, that and Jaws both!

  • June 6, 2012, 1:46 a.m. CST

    '82 was a great year to be a kid and a fan of fantasy/sci-fi.

    by Bedknobs and Boomsticks

    Except for the World's Fair in Knoxville. That sucked. Well, the painting robot arm was cool, and the big Rubik's cube, but the rest...

  • June 6, 2012, 2:02 a.m. CST

    E.T. > Talkbackers

    by Mako

    Cynical. Arrogant. Devoid of any empathy. That pretty much sums up many of the AICN Talkbackers. E.T. is and will remain a masterpiece of movie making. It is now a time capsule that will forever demonstrate was life was like back in the early 1980's, and how great a movie can be uplifting and really change the lives of millions of people for the better. We don't have many movies like this anymore. E.T. was a film about home. Courage. Love. Friendship. Family. And many of the dipsh*ts here don't get it cause they don't really care about the history of great films. Or good story telling. Or emotional resonance. It was a movie that helped solidify why I wanted to makes movies in Hollywood. And not sit around for hours on forums every day complaining about everyone and everything else - when the problem is the person you see in the mirror... every morning you wake up.

  • June 6, 2012, 2:12 a.m. CST

    god damn it. bitter jealousy of your childhoods.

    by Gregg Vossler

    because my parents didn't allow me to go to the movies, and they threw out our b&w television. jedi was the sole movie i saw in the theater (and i remember going to see chariots of fire exhibited in a church- woohoo). i am actually moving to austin this summer, but not until july 10th! so no E.T. theatrical experience for me. :(

  • June 6, 2012, 2:18 a.m. CST

    LDs I've held onto for posterity...

    by justmyluck

    STAR WARS OT (9-disc CAV box) STAR WARS OT (2-disc CLV sets) RAIDERS (single disc, no snake reflection erasure, theatrical Dolby surround mix) SE7EN (Criterion CAV box with many unique extras) AKIRA (Janus CAV - animation tests and more) E.T. (CAV box with deleted scenes and original JW isolated score) NAPOLEON (CLV Abel Gance/Coppola ... apparently a Blu-ray soon) ...and a few other music video ones for retro nostalgia. I really should get a high end video card and suck all the bonus materials into 4x3 matted for HD.

  • Though to really get E.T. and its pop-cultural impact *you had to be there.*

  • ...great piece sir.You really captured what it was like growing up in not only 82' but that era in general (hell I'm 36 and have great movie memories till 92').Like Spielberg's letter said (and like his film E.T.) the article brought me back... Sincerely, kenchun24 (from the present) P.S. Like Steven said,you really are a good writer.

  • ...great piece sir.You really captured what it was like growing up in not only 82' but that era in general (hell I'm 36 and have great movie memories till 92').Like Spielberg's letter said (and like his film E.T.) the article brought me back... Sincerely, kenchun24 (from the present) P.S. Like Steven said,you really are a good writer.

  • June 6, 2012, 3:19 a.m. CST

    That is VERY cool Nordling but...

    by Tom-Paul Smith

    ...he does send those letters out all time. I got a very long and sentimental one just for sending him a note saying 'Saving Private Ryan was better than I thought, skilz Steven skilz'.

  • June 6, 2012, 4:19 a.m. CST

    I'll always hold a grudge against E.T.

    by bdc777

    It completely overshadowed two vastly superior films in the summer of '82; Blade Runner and John Carpenter's The Thing. Moreover, in a roundabout way it ruined Carpenter's career by being the complete antithesis of his film and turning critics and fans alike against him. It lead to Carpenter being fired from Firestarter, and becoming persona non-grata in Hollywood. I'll never forgive Spielberg's mediocre at best little kids movie for derailing a career that could have been so much more.

  • June 6, 2012, 4:33 a.m. CST

    @ chickenstu re: ET

    by karen

    One can both like huge muscly men in spandex and E.T. Just sayin.... :)

  • June 6, 2012, 4:56 a.m. CST

    E.T. = dwarf in latex. Definitely more kinky!

    by justmyluck

  • ... something for being sentimental and heartwarming. They call the fans gay or whatever yet love films about muscly men in spandex. see my point? This movie is a masterpiece. Fuck the haters.

  • June 6, 2012, 5:37 a.m. CST

    The only emotions I have EVER experienced are RAGE and SEX...

    by Tom-Paul Smith

    ...and even I cried at E.T. Although I then had to regain my manhood by punching an entire fucking ARMY for looking at me funny afterwards. Fuck the haters.

  • June 6, 2012, 6:21 a.m. CST

    How could you possibly 'hate' E.T.?

    by I am_NOTREAL

    What is there to 'hate?' Feels like a pose. If you truly 'hate' E.T., then you more than likely 'hate' a LOT of other things, and that's a shitty way to go through life, I feel sorry for you.

  • June 6, 2012, 6:26 a.m. CST

    The need. The need for...

    by Steve Evans

    It amazes me that so many people on these boards find the need to be so vindictive against movie making and makers. It's like their lives have been shattered beyond repair by an artist's comment. All I can imagine is that their lives must be pretty brittle to start with.

  • June 6, 2012, 6:43 a.m. CST

    Digital presentation at Alamo?

    by Logan_1973

    Or a mangled, 30 year old film print?

  • June 6, 2012, 7:13 a.m. CST


    by ATARI

    If any talkbacker gives you a hard time, just point them to that letter and tell them to "Suck it -- hard!!"<br> <br> <br>

  • June 6, 2012, 7:51 a.m. CST

    God, you cynical fucks are something else...

    by Mattyboy122

    "Jaws is better than ET because it's got blood and doesn't have gay little kids." Give me a break. ET is a masterpiece, incredibly personal filmmaking, wonderfully acted, shot, written, scored, etc. I've had the pleasure of seeing both Jaws and ET (original cut) on the big screen (not in their original runs, of course; I was born in '86) and they're both perfect pictures. Some of you guys need to grow up; you're not cool for bashing ET, you're just a phillistine. With the possible exception of Empire of the Sun, ET gets my vote for favorite Spielberg picture.

  • June 6, 2012, 7:59 a.m. CST

    Did you send a letter to Justin Beiber too after you saw his movie?

    by DonkeyBalls

  • June 6, 2012, 8:05 a.m. CST

    I remember

    by LivingDeadMan

    people queuing round the block when I went to see E.T. with my Dad. I was 10 years old at the time and it was well worth the wait to get in.

  • June 6, 2012, 8:11 a.m. CST

    E.T. was a horrible experience and I left the theater.

    by Gary Yogurt

    I was a fragile and easily-frightened four-year old when my Dad took me to see the 1984 re-release. The first time E.T. popped that head up and screamed, I was gone. My Dad removed me from the theater and we went home. I love the movie now but that's one of the earliest movie memories I have, the first being the trash compactor scene from a network-TV showing of Star Wars sometime before that.

  • June 6, 2012, 8:27 a.m. CST

    I went to school with someone who cried at E.T...

    by Johnny Wishbone

    ...he got bullied mercilessly as a result. I hope you do too you pansy.

  • June 6, 2012, 8:32 a.m. CST

    I did not like E.T. on first view, for personal reasons...

    by sapno_krei

    My dad was several states away for work for an extended period -- over a year, I think -- so the divorced parent thing really cut close to home for me (I was only 6 in 1982). Yeah, my parents were not divorced, but in my mind they may as well have been. I may not have understood its thematic resonance at the time, but E.T. not getting to stay with Elliott was a huge downer ending for me. I wanted a happy ending, not one where E.T. goes away. Didn't watch the movie again until the home video release ~1988 or so. Only then did I fall in love with the movie, not because the movie's ending felt any happier, but rather because it had reached into my chest and squeezed my heart so successfully without my even realizing for all those years.

  • The way the creature walks, discovers new things, his's all based on toddler behavior. Elliot learns a lot, of course, but he also teaches a lot too. The sibling dynamic is so rich, so spot on. The mother character is incredibly complex. Her mix of horror and wonder is amazing. So yeah. This film is a masterpiece. Great job Nordling.

  • June 6, 2012, 8:34 a.m. CST

    Ah choices

    by UltraTron

  • June 6, 2012, 8:37 a.m. CST

    Hey, I love John Carpenter's The Thing as much as the next guy

    by Mattyboy122

    But on what planet is it a better film than ET? Blade Runner is arguable, although I'd say its original cut is inferior to ET. But John Carpenter's The Thing? A great film, no doubt, but it's not ET.

  • June 6, 2012, 8:43 a.m. CST

    Suit yaself. I'll take the thing over E.T. since day one

    by UltraTron

  • June 6, 2012, 9:06 a.m. CST

    Utratron... ha hah ha

    by ufoclub1977

    By the way I'm the biggest E.T. nut. Back in 1982 I drew a comic of the first parts of the movie in full pencil shaded frames that showed the flashlight rays. I sculpted an E.T. bust that looked completely accurate (like a little maquette) and I even scavenged blue eyes from my little sister's doll and put em in there. Can't wait for the blu-ray. Saw E.T. and Poltergeist 5 times each (alternating each time) back in the summer of 1982. I had the vinyl soundtrack rotating nonstop along with Star Trek II.

  • June 6, 2012, 9:51 a.m. CST

    Speaking of ET... Ray Bradbury passed way?

    by ufoclub1977

    ET was like the visualization of some of that Bradbury mood. Bradbury even talked of how CE3K was one of his favorite movies.

  • June 6, 2012, 9:59 a.m. CST

    I miss.....

    by zastrow

    .....THIS Speilberg.

  • June 6, 2012, 10:19 a.m. CST

    Nordling, do you have one of the new ET figures?

    by v3d

    My daughter and I saw them at a local Toys-R-Us this past weekend. They're very detailed and put the originals to shame.

  • June 6, 2012, 10:30 a.m. CST

    I feel like I HAD to have posted this by now . . .

    by Nice Marmot

    . . . especially back in 2007. That 1982-fest was the bomb! But I saw E.T. 3 times in the theater that summer. And I must have set a record for balling out loud the first time. I cried the second he was screaming and running back to his ship at the beginning. Then I went into hysterics as a racoon climbed over his pale body. Then I balled the entire time he was supposedly dead. A kid from my class laughed at me the entire time. I was such a wuss . . .

  • June 6, 2012, 10:34 a.m. CST

    And HOLY CRAP, R.I.P., Ray Bradbury!!!

    by Nice Marmot

    I went from warm nostalgia to cold depression in seconds!!!!

  • June 6, 2012, 11:43 a.m. CST


    by FluffyUnbound

    In the beginning of the film ET is trying to not be seen. At the end of the film he's been in federal custody for about a day, so trying to get off Earth discreetly is no longer in the cards. Also, it's possible he just didn't think of flying. The film goes on AT LENGTH about how ET and Elliot have developed a telepathic bond. Elliot is the one trying to get ET away from the feds on his bike. If Elliot is thinking 'Oh shit man I gotta get over this roadblock' that might inspire ET to use his telekinesis to make them fly - but he might never have considered that option on his own, without Elliot thinking of it first. BTW I'm not obsessed with the movie or anything but it was on some obscure cable channel the other day and I watched it with my 6 year old. It really stands up. There are a few minor problems I have with the transitions between now that I'm seeing it as an adult, but nothing major. (There's a scene where we see the feds clearly walking up to the house to find ET, but then ANOTHER couple of scenes where the kids and the mother go in and out of the house and hours pass, BEFORE the feds finally make it up the driveway. Must be one long ass driveway.) It's a little sad that I found myself thinking that the plot of ET doesn't work anymore in 2012 America, because as soon as there was any suspicion at all on the part of the feds they'd have SWAT teams kicking down every door in that neighborhood and drones chasing down anyone who ran. There'd be none of this 'Let's try to clandestinely figure out where ET is while respecting the rights of these homeowners' shit. They'd produce 100 warrants saying they were looking for weed or Al-Qaeda #3 and just kick every door down, and if someone in a house with no ET in it got hurt they'd be shit out of luck. And as soon as they FOUND ET, Elliot and his whole family would be at Guantanamo getting waterboarded or in a supermax prison getting shot full of anti-psychotic drugs so fast that Act III would go by in an eyeblink.

  • June 6, 2012, 11:49 a.m. CST

    The Peter Coyote character also would not exist any more.

    by FluffyUnbound

    That's something else I found myself thinking.

  • The outsider. All cylinders were clicking when Spielberg made this.

  • June 6, 2012, 1:24 p.m. CST

    I'm with @dead youngling on this. E.T. is probably Williams' best score.

    by Christian Sylvain

    Before the characterizations, the directing, or even the acting, it's John Williams that draws me into the film everytime. The music for E.T. is nothing less than astonishing.

  • June 6, 2012, 2:04 p.m. CST

    can't believe all the hate for E.T.

    by rapscallion86

  • June 6, 2012, 2:10 p.m. CST

    When I first saw ET as a kid

    by hopeless

    I didn't get into it. As a kid I was like awesome an alien movie and when I saw it I was like where's the lasers where's the fighting! Then again I was 7 when it came out and was hoping for something like Empire Strikes Back. It took a couple viewings for me to understand the movie. Of course I love it now that I'm old!:)

  • June 6, 2012, 6:44 p.m. CST

    how E.T. made me a better person

    by Johnny Oldfield

    I was 16 in 1982. I remember as a going as a family on either Thanksgiving or Easter weekend to see E.T. I do not recall the month of its release. I thought I would hate it and wasnt really jazzed and like an ungrateful 16 year old I decided to sit away a few rows down from my family I guess cause I thought it would be uncool to sit with them. I loved Raiders a great deal but ET looked boring. Its a good thing I did sit away from my family because for the first time I cried in a theater from what I was seeing on screen. Up until that point I was a typical boy and doing what typical boys did in that era and before we would do horrific things like play frog baseball just like B and B. We would fire bomb ant hills with gasoline and matches. We would run around the yard and neighborhoods with our Red Ryders and Crossmans shooting squirrels and song birds without thinking anything of it. After ET I swear to god something about that film changed all of that for me. I honestly havent had the thought, desire, or heart to cause direct harm to another creature with certain exceptions of course. Mosquitos and such. But that film instantly brought about in me a respect and wonder for life that exists to this day. And I aint no panty waste PETA member or vegan either. Although I cant say that ET is my favorite or even one of my favorite films, I would say probably not and Ive not seen it completely through from start to finish since that afternoon in 1982, but I can say that no other film has ever had as profound an impact on my view of the world and my place in it as did E.T. and that is something pretty damned special in my book. SO yeah Ill always have a place in my heart for this film and maybe ill get the blue ray and watch again after so many years. Thank you Mr Spielberg

  • June 6, 2012, 7:29 p.m. CST

    My first memory!

    by Natalie

    DUDE...I totally understand. My ET obsession started when I was a wee toddler (my first memory was seeing ET in the theater when I was 3!) I still sob like a 3 year old when I watch it, hah. And have ET memorabilia scattered in my office Have the ET poster at home...JAWS at work - I work at an aquarium - what can I say :) Kudos for an awesome retrospective. Have a BLAST at the showing!