“When Cohen took Cardoza along to the studio to deliver that first batch of bicycles, Cardoza didn’t know what to expect. “I thought I was going to be the mechanic,” he recalls. It was the first time the filmmakers and the actors would “meet” the bicycles. All the bikes needed to be adjusted specifically for each young actor and this job fell to Cardoza. “We just needed to adjust seat angle, seat height, and handlebar angle,” said Cohen. “Everyone was happy.” Spielberg himself even gave one of the bikes a go.
“Sometime during that visit, Spielberg shared his ideas for the bicycle stunts in the movie with the young Cardoza. “I just laughed at him,” Cardoza remembers, telling the director, “There’s no way those kids will be able to do that!” Cardoza then showed Spielberg some of his own tricks on one of the Kuwahara bikes. Impressed, the director asked him if there were more riders like him.”
Fascinating story about the stuntwork involved in the bike chase at the end of E.T.
“Then there’s the scene at the end. E.T. has phoned home, and the spaceship has come to get him. He’s in the woods with Elliott. The gangplank on the ship comes down, and in the doorway we can see another creature like E.T. standing with the light behind.
Emil, you said, “That’s E.T.’s mommy!” And then you paused a second, and said, “Now how did I know that?”
We all laughed, because you made it sound funny, as you often do—you’re a natural comedian. But remembering it now, I asked myself—how did Emil know that? It could have been E.T.’s daddy, or sister, or the pilot of the ship. But I agree with you it probably was his mommy, because she sounded just like a mommy as she made the noise of calling E.T.
And then I thought, the fact that you knew that was a sign of how well Steven Spielberg made his movie. At 4, you are a little young to understand “point of view,” but you are old enough to react to one. For the whole movie, you’d been seeing almost everything through the eyes of E.T. or Elliott. By the last moments, you were identifying with E.T. And who did he miss the most? Who did he want to see standing in the spaceship door for him? His mommy.
Of course, maybe Steven Spielberg didn’t see it the same way, and thought E.T. only seemed like a kid and was really 500 years old. That doesn’t matter, because Spielberg left it open for all of us. That’s the sign of a great filmmaker: He only explains what he has to explain, and with a great movie the longer it runs, the less has to be explained. Some other filmmaker who wasn’t so good might have had subtitles saying, “E.T.? Are you out there? It’s Mommy!” But that would have been dumb.
And it would have deprived you, Emil, of the joy of knowing it was E.T.’s mommy, and the delight of being able to tell the rest of us.”
Roger Ebert’s 1997 Great Movies review of E.T., which was written in the form of a letter to his grand-daughters.
Ebert’s (and Spielberg’s) genius comes across beautifully in this piece. Not only is it a unique and deeply personal piece of writing, but it captures a vital and much-misunderstood element of Spielberg’s film-making: the film’s relationship with its audience.
Spielberg always attempts to engage the audience on this level, asking them to become actively involved in the film rather than just watching it, and the fact that young children can pick up on that shows just how successful he is at achieving his goal.