One of the most popular movies ever made, E.T. translates religious myth into cute, familiar terrain with its story of a lovable alien stranded in suburbia.

Elliott (Henry Thomas) finds E.T., a visitor from another planet left stranded on Earth, hiding in his backyard and, like any kid who finds a stray, decides to keep him. Hiding the alien from his mother, Thomas and the neighborhood kids befriend the creature. Though E.T. becomes attached to

Elliott and his friends, he wants to get back to his own planet; meanwhile, the children must save him from some government types who are trying to capture and study him.

A major hit at the box office which also spawned an extremely profitable merchandising campaign, E.T. was embraced by audiences worldwide and instantly became absorbed into popular culture. Though the story feels standard, the fun comes from the meticulously realized details that director Steven

Spielberg and associate producer-writer Melissa Mathison have injected into the material. From E.T.'s too-cute encounters with suburban living to the undeniable exhilaration felt when Thomas's bicycle magically soars into the air, the film bears witness to the undeniable powers of one of cinema's

most skillful craftsmen. The film won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects.

For the film's 20th-anniversary re-release, Spielberg did some minor tinkering, polishing the special effects and eliminating the shotguns in the hands of the policeman who chase Elliot and his little friends in the famous flying bicycle sequence. He also put back some footage, notably a scene in which Elliot stays out all night with his unearthly pal, worrying his mom half to death, and a bathtub scene that hinges on E.T.'s unsuspected ability to breath underwater.