Film, divorce, and alienation

The other night I found myself watching E.T with the family. And since I can’t watch a movie anymore without also being on my laptop, here are some interesting facts about E.T I bet you didn’t know.

First and foremost, E.T. is all about divorce, not aliens.

After his success with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Spielberg had instead set out to make a smaller, more personal film. “E.T. was about the divorce of my parents, how I felt after my parents broke up,” Spielberg admitted. “[It was] the first movie I ever made for myself.” The idea for E.T began to form while the director was on location in Tunisia for Raiders. A lonely Spielberg started picturing something of an imaginary friend. “It was like when you were a kid and had grown out of dolls or teddy bears,” he recalled. “You just wanted a little voice in your mind to talk to. I began concocting this imaginary creature, partially from the guys who stepped out of the Mother Ship for ninety seconds in Close Encounters [1977].” He shared the idea with Melissa Mathison, Harrison Ford’s screenwriter girlfriend who had already penned two family films The Black Stallion (1979) and The Escape Artist (1982). Together Spielberg and Mathison fleshed out the story.

Additionally, it appears that Spielberg’s father issues have had a profound influence on most of his work.

Spielberg researched for his upcoming film “Lincoln” for over 12 years and it is partially inspired by his reconciliation with his father.

He was the father of a nation in need of repair and in a sense the movies I’ve made recently have reflected the positive relationship that my dad and I have enjoyed for 20-25 years.

Oh, and it should be noted that it was Spielberg’s mother that filed for divorce, after having an affair with one of her husband’s friends. And Steven blamed his mother, not his father, for the subsequent breakup of the family.

When Spielberg was 19, his parents got divorced after his mother fell in love with one of his father’s best friends. “It’s still a mystery to me, but even though my mother was like an older sister to me, I kind of put her up on a pedestal,” Spielberg said. “And my dad was much more terrestrial, much more grounded, much more salt of the earth. And for some reason, it was easier for me to blame him than it was to someone who I was already — exalted.

All of this serves to demonstrate once again how important marriage is for children.

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59 responses to “Film, divorce, and alienation

  1. Now i understand the reason why Spielberg made a film about loneliness, friendship, and the bittersweet pangs of childhood.

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