Category: Classics


Once upon a time, an imaginative guy mulled “What if there are creatures on other planets who decide to come to Planet earth someday”; and thus was born an absolutely new genre of Alien movies where creatures from the far invaded and harassed us. Not long after that, an even more ingenious person contemplated “What if one of those aliens gets left behind on earth while the others head back home”. Just a thought; and we get introduced to the most friendly and cute alien ever.

Materialized  from a one-line idea and inspired from “his-highness” Steven Spielberg’s childhood imaginary friend, E.T. sets an epitome of how beautifully creative you can be. For its well-written and brilliantly executed script, this movie definitely makes it to my list of Top 10 alien movies, though many hesitate to put E.T. under the exceptional alien category for its atypical theme and script. The fact that 20 yrs later when the movie was re-released with modification and deleted scenes, it received as over-whelming a response as the first release is sufficient enough to appreciate the greatness of this movie.

So here we have a single mother (Dee Wallace) to 3 kids – 9-10 yr old Elliot (Henry Thomas), 3-4 yrs old Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and the eldest one Michael (Robert MacNaughton). Just like any other family with kids, the house is a complete mess and the kids constantly trouble and pester each other. On one cold night, Elliot, on observing some commotion in the backyard, heads there to find the source of disturbance. Instead what he sees is a weird-looking creature, a stranded alien abandoned by the mother-ship. Intrigued by the creature and laughed at by his mother and elder brother, Elliot decides to visit that creature again the next night with a goody box to lure him. Elliot successfully befriends this creature and smuggles him to his room without anybody’s knowledge. While this weird creature creates a ruckus in-house out of his own inquisitiveness and wanders around stealthily, Elliot’s siblings get to know about his in-house presence, include him in their group as a companion and start calling him “E.T”. They introduce E.T. to the human world, human accessories and English language, which he grasps pretty fast. But E.T. has a strange way of communicating. He expresses himself through Elliot in telepathic ways.

In the mean time, scientists and researchers observe the recent UFO activity and begin their investigation on the same. E.T along with the help of the kids puts together a signaling device for “E.T-> Home-> Phone”.  As amazed and amused as they are, Elliot and the kids decide to send E.T. to his home sound and safe, and find the most opportune time for this at Halloween. This is where their plan begins to falter and the scientists become aware of the aliens whereabouts and begin their operation. Do the kids succeed in ensuring E.T’s safe departure or does he become another tool for scientific research. We he present another joy-ride for kids or will he harm Elliot by expressing through him.

You truly should watch this truly amazing movie to enjoy E.T’s journey and interactions on our home planet. It’s a constant struggle for me to pen-down my favorite scene in the movie. It could be that scene where ET begins to follow another kid who is dressed as alien for Halloween, or it could be the scene where Gertie dresses him up as a girl and teaches him english words and object names; or the fake grief by Elliot and others for saving E.T. There were so many moments in the movie when I was just smiling to myself and nothing in particular. It brings you upfront with the joy and innocence of being a kid.

 

There are certain scenes which were omitted from the movie as director Spielberg believed them to be on too much fantasy based premise for the audience to accept. To mention is the scene where the kids fly in the sky while riding cycles. To me even those scenes were as entertaining as all, and formed a natural part of the screenplay.

The kids are so adorable and well-suited for the script, and so is the E.T. And how do we forget our own Drew Barrymore who is so delightful and charming in the movie. Everything from the visual effects to the voice-makeover for E.T. (The voice for E.T. was given by an old lady who smoked packets of cigarette daily, hence giving her the required hoarseness)has been done to such a perfection, that it’s impossible to find a wrong shot or inappropriate moment in the movie.

No wonder that the movie was nominated for 9 Oscars and won 4 titles (best sound effects, best visual effects, best original score and best sound) along with multiple other nominations and awards. However, it did not bag the award for best director or best film.

The film has a number of remakes including our own spiced-up bollywood version of the movie by the title Koi Mil Gaya (starring Hritik Roshan and Preity Zinta). If you are aware of any other remakes of this classic movie, drop in a line here.

12 Angry Men (1957)

Sometimes when you sit down for an old time movie, you are not very sure what to expect coz you doubt its relevance to the contemporary world. That’s not the case with this movie. 12 Angry Men is undoubtedly one of the most amazing movies of all times.

It’s the story of 12 diverse men, who are brought together as the jury for a murder trial of an adolescent boy in a low-class locality of the town. The case appears to be absolutely open-and-shut, with all the evidences against the accused.  It’s an extremely hot day; every jury member wants to be done with his responsibility as the juror at the earliest and exit the scene. All the jury members vote in favour of the accused being guilty, except one Mr. Davis, Juror No.8 (Henry Fonda) on account of his reasonable doubt. His conviction for not sending an innocent man to the electric chair manages to change everybody’s disposition towards the case, slowly but persistently. They sit together in the closed room and discuss all the aspects of the case from various angles, bringing in their perspective on various issues and even doing mock-demonstration to view the possibilities. It brings to limelight the differences among the jurors in terms of their personality, biases, socio-culture, decision making, ignorance and indifference. After a series of discussion, debate, verbal assaults and threatening, the jury finally reaches a verdict, a verdict based on sound reasoning and logic rather than on the views presented in the court.

It is just amazing how the whole movie, being shot in one room, manages to grip you throughout. The narration of the whole murder trial, as well its evidences and witnesses from the jurors itself, rather than through the court proceedings is so succinct and clear, without anything being shown in first person. All the actors, despite not be introduced by their names, and addressed just by their number make a distinct mark on you in terms of their characteristics. I also love the ending of the movie, with the verdict being presented from the juror’s viewpoint, with no explanation whatsoever about the reality of the case.

The movie portrays the flaws in the judicial system which forcibly assigns a reluctant  lawyer to a case who sees no fame, no money in cases like this, where jurors just want to superficially fulfil their duty and where a slum-dwelling adolescent is subjected to prejudices, just to name a few.

My advice to you – don’t miss this classic drama. It’s worth the 95 minutes it runs for.

It’s surprising that the movie did not win any academy awards despite having 3 nominations, with no nomination for Henry Fonda for his lead role. But then these three awards went to another must watch classics of those times, whose review will shortly follow.  

For those of you who don’t know – The movie is inspired from a teleplay by Reginald Rose who acted as one of the co-producers of the movie.