Science Fiction Films discussion

E.T. the Extra-Terrestiral (Steven Spielberg, 1982)

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message 1: by Angie (new)

Angie I have always loved this movie. I think it may be the first Sci-fi film that I remember watching (unless you count Star Wars). I love the score in the movie as well, John Williams I think created it. I have the 20th anniversary edition and read that they replaced the guns in the film with walkie-talkies. Surprising that they did that with video games and TV now. You would think it would be the other way around. "E.T. phone home."

message 2: by Kandice (new)

Kandice Do you mean they replaced the guns in the original, or that the 20th anniversary edition replaced the original guns with walkie talkies?
I love this movie too! I read the book, and my brothers and I would listen to the soundtrack-on vinyl, no less! My dad lived in Seattle at the time, and their public transportain was called PT for Pacific Transport. The summer this movie came out all their advertising was geared to look like E.T. I loved it!!!

message 3: by Angie (new)

Angie The 20th anniversary replaces the guns. What I was trying to say (that didn't come off right in my first post) is that you would think in 1982 they would've had walkie-talkies and now they would have guns, not the other way around.

message 4: by Kandice (new)

Kandice Oh! I didn't know they had done that. My copy is pretty old. I think Spielberg is a kinder, more gentle man now. HaHaHa!!!!!

message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I had a set of walkie talkies in the 70's. I used guns more, though. My kids, born in the early 80's, also had both. I detest that kind of politically correct change. There's not a damn thing wrong with giving a kid a BB gun. It's the best way to learn to handle one & respect it.

message 6: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tracy_falbe) | 9 comments Wow. The guns have been taken out of the special edition? My God, that's sick. Whose going to be scared of people with walkie talkies?

Anyway, I never really liked this film. I liked the kids, but E.T. was so hard to look at. I can remember sitting in the theater, struggling to look at the screen. It was like being at the dentist, trying to remain brave. Even as a girl, I was amazed this movie was such a hit. I suppose the story is nice, and the child actors did a wonderful job, but I had to avert my eyes everytime E.T. appeared. I want hideous aliens to be scarey and people to open fire as soon as possible. Sorry.

message 7: by Angie (new)

Angie As an adult I do see mistakes in the film... ET learns English in no time. He gets mind connected with Elliot, which ET then makes Elliot act like what he is seeing on the TV (the kiss scene). I wouldn't say this movie is a masterpiece. But I do think it is fun, for example the Halloween scenes. Where ET is trying to heal the older boy's knife wound even though it is fake. Maybe this movie isn't deep and shoot them up alien movie but I do think it has stood the test of time.

message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Rob wrote: "You'll shoot your eye out, kid."

I've known dozens who had them & while some minor surgery was needed occasionally, it was never a big deal. 'Safety is paramount' is an attitude I've never understood. Broken bones & stitches is part of growing up. All my kids have had a couple of broken bones & we long ago gave up tracking stitches. They're all alive, healthy & doing fine.

One has a BB in between his fingers & has for about 15 years. It's fun to put a strong magnet near it. He doesn't 'play' with pistols, rifles or shotguns, but uses them properly & treats them with respect like any other power tool.

message 9: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 144 comments Im a bit confused regarding the gun issue.
Did Speilberg remove the guns from Elliot and his brother or from the govt/agent guys?

It was 1982 and I dont remember audiences gasping in shock or outrage because there were guns in the movie.
Come on!!!!!
Do we have to be so politically correct about these things?????

I read a sci-fi book about the near future where people are re-editing old movies to get rid of all references to smoking.

message 10: by Tom (new)

Tom | 166 comments There was that company that used to sell censored versions of TITANIC that remove the nude scene, because of course we can't have the kiddies looking at a naked woman. Thousands of people dying a terrible death, no problem. Nudity, good heavens NO!

message 11: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 144 comments Supposedly the Titanic footage removed was only 47 seconds long.

message 12: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 144 comments Ive also heard in flight movies remove all references to "the mile high club" or "plane crashes"

message 13: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) It is ridiculous to edit all these movies for these politically correct hot buttons. How a couple of people making love is worse than a murder or smoking a cigarette is worse than showing people with track marks is beyond me.

I never let my kids use a power saw until they used a handsaw, knife & chisel first. Kids will be kids - thoughtless & they will make mistakes. You let them make them with tools that will scare & damage them minimally first. The lesson sticks better when it is a personal one. Practice makes perfect - not a class or lectures.

message 14: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
I'm surprised Spielberg didn't edit out the horrific shambling alien and insert an Ewok. With a cell phone.

message 15: by Tom (new)

Tom | 166 comments Manuel, somehow that only makes it sillier. 47 seconds of naked Kate Winslet bad, hours of suicides, drowning, freezing, falling, death and destruction = fine family fare!

The Spielberg who removed the guns from E.T. is the same Speilberg who added that ridiculous ending to WAR OF THE WORLDS. The guy is just out of his mind.

message 16: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I thought that some of the Bugs Bunny & Popeye's were censored because of the strong propoganda slants that really put down Japanese & such.

My mother just had a really hard time getting Disney's "Songs of the South" from the library. A librarian told her it had been subject to a lot of controversy & almost pulled from the system. Instead, they were just letting it quietly fade away.

message 17: by Phillip (last edited Jan 18, 2009 11:19AM) (new)

Phillip rob,

in answer to your excellent question:

i am of mostly native american descent (apache on my father's side - chickasaw on my mom's side) and i appreciate that all of these older versions of "heathen indians" are still with us in the majority of westerns (and other narratives). it is there to remind us what a racist and bigoted country this is (but hey, it's not like other countries aren't founded on racism).

it would be great if there were more narratives that "told the truth", but truth and art and hollywood rarely co-exist. we have a few native filmmakers out there, i'm still waiting for one to come along and do something of great value. that's one of the reasons why i hated the HBO "bury my heart at wounded knee" effort. anyone that has read that book can see that HBO produced a ridiculously "whitewashed" film. if you don't know what i'm talking about - read the book. at this point in the time/history contiuum, it would be nice to see that the tides have changed. apparently not. power keeps power in place by telling lies.

i think it's important to talk to kids about movies. when i was growing up there was a "no censorship" attitude in my house. i watched lots of films with my parents - horror films, erotic films, films with gay narratives, films about racial injustice, films that explored a variety of hypocracies, etc. we talked about those films - so film has always been a kind of classroom for me. what's important to discuss with kids (and this goes the same for literature) is that all art or expression has BIAS. and it's important for the viewer and reader to interpret the artists' bias and weigh it against your own unique code of honor and ethics.

so, these older films should NOT be censored in any way (IMO), they reveal attitudes that need to change in this country. they are historical documents, IMO, and should remain in tact. i am also (obviously) arguing that these films should be viewed from this perspective.

message 18: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I agree with Phillip's parents about the no cendorship issue. Well, little censorship (ahem). I would rather my children watch, and then use what they see as fodder for discussion. I certainly can't censor what they see in the outside world, and I want them to grow up knowing that just because it's captured on film or in print, does not make it realistic, truthful, or acceptable. Just like trying to shield your children from unacceptable language. Silly, in my opinion. You can't always be there. Teach them what's acceptable and expect them to use discretion.

message 19: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Manuel, have you seen "Thank you for Smoking"? In that movie they talk about adding cigarettes to old films where none existed before. Just thought I'd toss that out there.

I haven't been following this conversation, but I saw Rob's latest update and had to stop in. ;)

I don't agree with censoring old movies or cartoons or anything, really. Was Bugs parading around in blackface right? No, but neither is pretending like it never happened.

I agree with Phillip and think that our past should be preserved. We should know where we came from, and continue using our past experience as a way to teach new generations how to behave appropriately.

Just my two cents... :)

message 20: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 144 comments One of my favorite films is Casablanca.

At one small point in the film, I always wince.

Ingrid Bergman asks the waiter to send over (Rick's companion and friend) the black piano player.
"Please tell the boy to come to my table"

As much as I resent that sentence; it would hurt me more it they ever edited out. It's an offensive term, but sadly it was common term for that era.

My college professor apologized for it when we saw it in one of my classes. We all sort of talked about it for a minute, then continued with the class.

message 21: by Kandice (new)

Kandice My point exactly. I would hope that in our more (at least a bit:) enlightened age, we know that kind of talk, or certain actions, are not appropriate. We have instilled enough values into our children that they can recognize this, and have the common sense not to repeat. If not, we can discuss. If they are ready for the discussion, or not, is immaterial. Regardless of age, if they exhibit innapropriate behaviour, for WHATEVER reason, it needs to be immediately addressed. If we don't study history in it's unvarnished state, we are doomed to repeat it!

message 22: by Phillip (last edited Jan 18, 2009 02:21PM) (new)

Phillip rob,

i want to make it clear that my parents both had a "no censorship" policy AND we almost always watched movies together. no washing dishes in the other room. i'm not saying i watched every film i ever watched with them, but as kandice pointed out, you get into a groove with your kids by watching the majority of things together, and that by talking about films with them, even movies with difficult subject matter, has a "no taboo" feel to it.

we saw a film, "sunday, bloody sunday" when i was about 11 or 12. it had gay sex scenes in it, and dealt with a difficult relationship an older man was having with a younger man. it was funny, because without ever having had open discussions about gay life with my parents at that point, there was a very open discussion about the film. there was never a hint of "those people are wrong" coming from my parents (as it should be!). we were talking about the dynamics of the relationship as if it were "any" relationship. that kind of open-ness from my parents helped me have a very open mind about everything. information, regardless of the source, is just that: information. and it's easier for kids to feel empowered in terms of their curiosity if you don't make subjects taboo.

to answer your question more specifically rob, i would merely say - you know, that cartoon depcits a kind of attitude toward blacks that was popular back when that cartoon was made. those depictions are de-humanizing. people used to see them as funny, because of course the people making those cartoons were white. black folks have become collectors of this kind of cartoon and depcition of their culture because they want to be reminded of how they have been viewed throughout the course of our american history.

this is how i would broach such a conversation with my kids (if i had kids...i don't), but i approach this kind of convesation with my students in the same way.

message 23: by Phillip (last edited Jan 18, 2009 02:30PM) (new)

Phillip p.s....(in reference to kandice's post) yeah, a "little" censorship is fine. i wouldn't watch salo or irreversible with my kids (but again, age might have a lot to do with that decision). unless they had heard about the film and were really curious. if i permitted them to watch those films, i would want to watch it with them to manage their reaction (as you said, they're going to see it at some point anyway if they really are curious) and talk about it. i would give my opinion, and they would be welcome to give their opinion. my dad and i talked about the ending of 2001 for days after seeing it together (OK, kurbrick isn't pasolini...but, you see what i'm talking about)

it is important, it would seem, to shield our youngsters from certain kind of subject matter. but i'm talking about extreme violence or torture in film. and of course, i'm talking about age-appropriateness. there were a few films i remember seeing (with my parents) that disturbed me. but to this day, i don't regret having seen those films. it's all a part of what shapes us and our values.

message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) King Dinösaur, Mom said she got it on video tape. She's in Maryland. Don't know where the tape came from, but she did say it was inter-libary loan.

I too agree with no censorship. There have been a lot of rotten attitudes historically. Pretending they don't exist doesn't help. We need to remember what they were & how badly they screwed up the world or we'll just find a new way to do the same thing.

Oh wait, we have. We've taken political correctness to ridiculous heights. A man is publically castigated because he uses the word 'niggardly'.

Well, maybe things will even out eventually. Let's hope because there are too many good films & books that wouldn't stand up to censorship.Pudd'nhead Wilson has been on many lists & it is poking fun at racism at a time when it wasn't cool. A treasure, IMO.

I also agree with watching what your kids read & watch & discussing it with them. I got an early lesson when my son got a picture of what he thought was a monster truck off the Internet, pre WWW. It was a woman & a baseball bat. I think he was about 8 & I had to explain the facts of pornography to him. He knew about sex, we live on a farm, still it was an interesting conversation & one of many that drove home the point to me

message 25: by Angie (new)

Angie I agree with no censorship in society as a whole. I don't have kids, but probably would not watch Song of the South with them when they are young. When they are older and ask about it I would let them watch it and explain why it is not a good thing. I think small children do not need to see "black face" or whatever they call it on the TV.

There is another classic that comes to mind, Breakfast at Tiffany's. The way the Japanese landlord is depicted is terrible.

message 26: by Phillip (last edited Jan 18, 2009 02:54PM) (new)

Phillip jim,

word...political "correctness" (there's an oxymoron for you) is it's own kind of censorship. words are words. if you have something to say - say it. take responsibility for what you say and make sure you know what you're trying to express when you open your mouth. of course we make mistakes and things don't always come out the way we want them to - but that's part of being human and yes, pretending the words don't exist is a big mistake.

angie: breakfast at tiffany's...yeah, mickey rooney is so whack in that film. the performance is so out of character from everything else that is going on in that film, i really don't understand how that got in kind of ruins the film for me. not because of its racist content - which is indeed offensive - but because it's such bad filmmaking.

message 27: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I always liked Mickey Rooney, especially in that Twilight Zone where he played the jockey that wanted to be big. There was horse movie I liked him in, too. "National Velvet"?

Phillip, I'm not sure if my meaning was clear. There was no mistake with the use of the word 'niggardly'. It was used correctly. Unfortunately, some folks need a vocabulary lesson. In Google, I typed: 'Define: niggardly'

Definitions of niggardly on the Web:
- grudging: petty or reluctant in giving or spending; "a niggardly tip"

There have been several controversies about the word "niggardly", an adjective meaning "stingy" or "miserly", in the United States due to the phonetic similarity to the racial slur "nigger". The two words are otherwise unrelated.

message 28: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 144 comments I had a friend get beat up because he used the word "Knickers"

We were talking about something not related to race at all, someone overheard and started a fight because he thought he heard another word.

message 29: by Angie (last edited Jan 18, 2009 07:25PM) (new)

Angie I don't think the n-word should be used anywhere at anytime by anyone, unless it is used in context-historical literature and movies but not casual. I was never allowed to say it in my house and if a friend came over and used it my parents made them go. I grew up in a military household and still am associated with military and am used to having a diverse culture around (not saying that some in the military aren't racist). So maybe that makes my perspective different than others. I think that maybe society has become numb to the word, not really thinking about what it really meant just 50 years ago. By censoring maybe that makes people forget what history should be teaching us=censoring bad.

message 30: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Ask Virginia Woolf (well, if you could) if "words" are just words. I think they are spikes that run deep into the heart and can destroy...or generate love and compassion. I don't promote censorship of older films and still collect the classic looney tunes with machine gun violence and WWII propoganda. It's an interesting insight into history...and not ancient history, sadly enough.

message 31: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) The only two words I never, ever use are the N-word and the C-word (that rhymes with hunt). My dad was a sailor (and cursed like one), and I grew up around all kinds of guys whose favorite words were of the four-letter variety, so I have a full vocabulary of curse words, but those are just two that I can't bring myself to say.

I appreciate the N-word's place in history, and personally think that's the only place it belongs.

message 32: by Phillip (last edited Jan 18, 2009 10:15PM) (new)

Phillip jim,

i'm well aware of the word niggardly. i was agreeing that political correctness can be it's own kind of censorship. i'm not sure what it is i said that warranted the vocabulary lesson.

totally digging your points. well taken.

thanks for mentioning virginia woolf - anyone that can write the waves knows words infinitely better than i.

anyone else listening,
i'm not advocating the use of "the n word". i know lots of kids in my neighborhood that say it all the time. they're black. i'd be an idiot to tell them how to speak about their own culture. it's up to their family to have that conversation. you know what i'm sayin'? some folks say it takes a village, and that we should keep an eye on kids and school them when they act foolish. they start breaking car windows out on my street, or talking disrespectfully to a woman walking down the street, i'll school them. they want to talk mess at each other - that's their right of free speech. if i enter into that dialogue i'm disrespecting their turf. they live on the block - let them holla at each other.

i am not advocating restriction of human freedom. i'm advocating self-expression. i'm adovocating that people be conscious of what they are saying. i am advocating that we consciously seek out information that helps us understand each other. i am always advocating that we strive to respect each other. in fact, i'm striving in my life to reach beyond tolerance to true acceptance of others that are different than myself. as a native, it's easy to look around and see a lot of cultural constructs that are different from my own. i don't need any more lessons in life on how it feels to be an outsider. i advocate we try harder to erase all the borders that create fear of "others". i adovocate we spend time outside of our cultural norm.

hopefully i've expressed myself clearly. i have a habit of mumbling - both in phonetics and in meaning.

you know, for a thread on a film that is pretty lousy, this is a really interesting discussion. not sure which "topic box" it belongs in....

peace y'all.

message 33: by Angie (new)

Angie This is a good discussion and I think it is OK to be in this thread. Just goes to show how much topic ET brought up. I read that Steven Spielberg is reported to have spent $100,000 digitally removing guns from the 2002 20th Anniversary re-release of the movie. He regretted using the scene and said he would remove it if he ever re-issued the film.

message 34: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 144 comments This brings me back to my original question.

Who's guns are removed.
Elliot and his brother or the govt guys????

I know Speilberg has also said that if he were to remake Close Encounters of The Third Kind; he would not have had Richard Dreyfus' character leave his family without a second thought, to go off with aliens.

message 35: by Phillip (new)

Phillip manuel,

wow...that's pretty lame. even someone like spielberg feels he has to make his films more "accessible".

one of the most interesting things about close encounters was the fervor in which dreyfuss pursued his obsession. take that away and what's left? nice landscapes and some cool special effects from the spaceship...

message 36: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 144 comments He meant that when he made Close Encounters, he was a single man.
He didnt think about the consequences of leaving behind a family until he started his own family.
If he were to remake the movie today, he would acknowledge more what it would mean to leave behind his wife and 3 kids; something that never occurred to him in his younger days.

message 37: by Phillip (new)

Phillip aye, well that is a completely different statement on his part, but my comment on the film remains the same. take away the main character's life or death drive to wrestle with this "information" he's receiving about the arrival of the aliens and there's not much left (quite literally) to drive the film.

to be fair to him, he could change the film and merely add that the guy felt a greater remorse for having left his family = or make the break with his family a more drastic act. if that's the case, the scenes in question would be more emotionally overwrought than they are in their present state (conceivably). i think my claim still stands. the film is better off the way it is and to make those kind of changes the film reads more accessible emotionally.

message 38: by George (new)

George | 63 comments Well, I'm dropping into this a little late, but I don't think the sterotyped images themselves would have been so damaging had there been other images offered as well. I'd say the real damage done by Disney is not Song of the South or Dumbo for that matter, none of you folks seems to remember those crows, or whatever sterotyped images pop up from time to time, but rather the repeated images of ivory-skinned Princesses and Prince Charmings, most of them blond as well. ok, not Snow White, but my Lord with a name like that, what did it matter? Black folks never showed up at all, except for those crows, of course. Of course, this sort of thing was hardly limited to Disney, but since kids were constantly exposed to it, it had and has quite an effect, even now. Actually in my home town black kids rarely got a chance to see Disney movies anyway until the 60's as the only theater that showed them didn't have a balcony.

And, it's not as though Disney completely redeemed itself after the 40's. Aladdin had to change its opening song when it came out in the 90s, when the lyrics talked about death and murder. one line ended with "It's barbaric, but hey, it's home."

I sort of have a thing over the Bugs Bunny and Warner Brothers WWII cartoons. During my first day of school down South back in 57, the teacher asked us each where we were born. I said Germany and after class, I got ambushed by a few kids who wacked me repeatedly while calling me Nazi. Should have faked a Southern accent I guess, anyway, it didn't kill me so...

I somehow doubt Woopie Goldberg will be doing any DVD intros talking about Bugs in blackface or anyone else for that matter. After showing up in public with Ted Danson in blackface a few years back, I don't think she would consider it worthwhile to bring it up again for any reason.

message 39: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Rob, I don't recall who the poor sap was. Some government official as I recall.

Phillip, my apologies. Didn't mean to recap what you know or offend. I had thought that my point wasn't clear.

I do recall telling my grandfather he was as good a story teller as Uncle Remus. I don't recall it upsetting him at all. He used to tell me condensed versions of the Illiad & the Oddessy when I was little.

I remember the crows in Dumbo, too. I thought they were cool. Stereotyped? Of course, but they reminded me of Speedy & a bunch of the other grooms that used to work with the race horses. They were a wild bunch. Always nice to me.

I don't know that a stereotype is bad. I see Scotsmen stereotyped as playing golf, wearing a kilt & penurious. I never heard of anyone getting upset about it. Sometimes it's just fun.

message 40: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Wow... I have never thought about Disney that way before, George. I've seen all the old Disney movies time after time when I was a kid, and I'd never noticed the things you mentioned.

Granted, I haven't seen a Disney movie other than The Little Mermaid in years and years, but maybe that just goes to show that kids don't pick up on all the bigotry and racism in those kinds of films or TV shows that adults think they do.

Or maybe they do now. It's been a couple years since I was a kid, but I'd still like to think that adults are the ones who make a big deal out of this stuff. Kids (I hope) just see it as a cartoon.

I do think that we should talk to our kids if, like the example you mentioned Rob, they start picking up on those things subconsciously, but why ruin their childhood with our adult P.C. worries before then? I guess that everyone will do what they think is right- as I will whenever I'm lucky enough to spawn. ;)

Phillip, I completely agree with you: "i advocate we try harder to erase all the borders that create fear of "others". i adovocate we spend time outside of our cultural norm."

message 41: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Jan 19, 2009 08:12AM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is the only "grown-up" film Spielberg ever created so it's no surprise he would want to redact the only mature and realistic themes (obssession and divorce) and make a childish story. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is the only one of his films I can revisit every so often without wanting to vomit...maybe it's Truffaut's flair and exuberance.

EDIT: Almost forgot about SCHINDLER'S LIST and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN...but my opinion doesn't change. Spielberg is an excellent filmmaker but a terrible storyteller, relying on caricature and stereotype. Though even his terribly vapid films (WAR OF THE WORLDS and MINORITY REPORT) have visually exciting scenarious and momentary pulse-pounding suspense they ultimately fail as stories as a result of his childish philosophy.

message 42: by Angie (new)

Angie Manuel, I am not sure which guns are removed? I tried to look it up and can't seem to find a comparison between the original and the edited version. I am shocked so much money was spent though to remove guns.

message 43: by Phillip (new)

Phillip jim, no worries. wasn't offended, just didn't understand.

message 44: by Tom (new)

Tom | 166 comments Alex, I'd say that MUNICH is pretty adult, too. I haven't seen that thing about the guy in the terminal or the one about the con man, because Spielberg stopped being essential viewing for me after that MINORITY REPORT travesty.

And I'll disagree about WAR OF THE WORLDS. I don't see it as being terribly vapid until the final hideous happy family friendly ending. I'd even say it is probably his best film, along with A.I., until it very suddenly isn't.

message 45: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 144 comments I have to say that I agree with Tom regarding War of the Worlds.

I went to see it more out of curiosity, since I have always loved the original movie. I was pleasantly surprised at what he did with this theme of hostile aliens in a modern era.
I was perplexed at one or two cinematic choices, but the biggest disappointment was the too too convenient happy family reunion. I still think he could have been true to the book and chosen a more satisfactory ending.

message 46: by Phillip (last edited Jan 19, 2009 02:12PM) (new)

Phillip munich was a fine film. i almost didn't believe spielberg made it. i also never watched amistad. that's spielberg too, isn't it?

it's not like he doesn't know how to shoot a film, or how to keep the pace rolling - the nuts and bolts of movie making work well for the most part in his films. it's just the obsessive desire to please his audience that turns me off. i also liked war of the worlds until it was clear how the ending was going to turn out. and then he did what you wished he hadn't....

message 47: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Ahhh...MUNICH, one that slipped my mind. Probably my favorite after DUEL. Yeah, he's made so many films that I abhor that I forget the few gems. DUEL has a great Richard Matheson screenplay so I'm biased anyway:) What I didn't like about MUNICH was the ending shot, a cheap unrelated analogy to 9/11 that was meant to pull our heartstrings...and totally unnecessary. WAR OF THE WORLDS just didn't make sense: aliens "beamed" into their buried spacecraft after millions of years? Cruise's character surving in a basement (and sleeping through) a jet plane chash in the house above him? The fire would have drawn the oxygen out and suffocated them. His escape from an alien war machine? The ending? Pure Hollywood fluff. There were terrifically gruesome moments but, like I said, he just can't tell a really good complete story. JAWS begins well but degenerates into a mechanical finale. Just my humble opinion.

message 48: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 144 comments I still remember the night "Duel" came on TV way back in the early 70's.

We could tell it was an unusual story; my parents were getting into it and they let us stay up late to finish the movie.
The next day it was all my elementary school friends could talk about.

We all thought the truck was cool and kind of frightening at the same time.

The movie is a bit dated in the era of cell phones and GPS, but its still a good suspense thriller.

message 49: by Angie (new)

Angie I also didn't know he did The Color Purple! I looked him up on IMDB and forgot he also did Band of Brothers, which I really enjoyed as well.

message 50: by Phillip (last edited Jan 19, 2009 10:09PM) (new)

Phillip Jaws is indeed a great film from start to finish. This came up a few months ago when we were discussing him for some other reason - it may have been in the context of Forest Gump...and other "mainstream" narratives. I think Spielberg's importance came up, and we cited some of the same films.

I can't remember Color Purple well enough to say much. I remember reading the book and having issues with the movie - but that happened a lot in that decade (80's).

Like Rob, I give the man Jaws, Munich, and Close Encounters. I had problems with Schindler's List, but overall it's a good film. Definitely up at the top of his game with those. It's not that he makes bad films. But as a friend of mine says, "it was a good film, but i didn't like it".

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