03 December 2008

67. E.T.

I've become a big fan of Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat". So I will break down "E.T." via his beat list.

1. Opening Image (1): a spaceship comes to Earth. "A stranger comes to town". Something we thought could never happen happens.

2. Theme Stated (5): You have to believe in magic, in the supernatural.

3. Set-up (1-10): We see E.T., and then we see the other E.T.: Eliot Taylor. He's a lonely, picked-upon kid from a broken home -- the kind that might be inclined to have an active fantasy life, who might be a little more inclined to believe in something magical.

4. Catalyst (12): He and E.T. meet, and their responses to each other are mirrored.

5. Debate (12-25): Eliot hangs out with E.T., introduces him to his brother and sister, hides him from his mom. Eliot goes to school, E.T. gets him drunk and we see that they are linked together, symbiotic.

6. Break into Two (25): E.T. sees a commercial and wants to "phone home."

7. B story (30): The government men come after E.T., breaking into the house.

8. Fun and games (30-55): Halloween, hanging out with E.T. in the neighborhood. E.T. allows Eliot to fly on his bike.

9. Midpoint (55): Eliot wakes up in the forest and E.T. is gone.

10. Bad Guys Close In (55-75): Do they ever. They literally close in, coming in through ever orifice in the house as Eliot and E.T. are dying, and the Bad Guys completely take over.

11. All Is Lost (75): Eliot and E.T. get sicker and sicker, and eventually E.T. separates himself from Eliot so that he alone can die. Eliot loses his only friend.

12. Dark Night of the Soul (75-85): E.T. dies and/or goes into a coma.

13. Break Into Three (85): The adults leave. Eliot hangs out with E.T. alone, tells him he loves him and believes in him. E.T. wakes up and is ready to phone home.

14. Finale (85-110): They get E.T. out of the house and go on a chase, outwitting adults. They fly again. They get E.T. back to the forest, the spaceship comes.

15. Final Image (110): E.T. goes home after Eliot says goodbye. We end on Eliot, who loses his friend but is no longer alone.

The most remarkable thing about it is how, like a Peanuts cartoon, the movie is entirely from the point of view of children, and, by extension, E.T. It gives us the perspective of a child, something we seemingly all want to be again on some level.