Returning to the rich pastures of American suburbia, Spielberg takes the utterly commonplace story of a lonely kid befriending an alien from outer space, and invests it with exactly the same kind of fierce and naive magic that pushed Disney's major masterpieces like Pinocchio into a central place in 20th century popular culture. Moreover, with its Nativity-like opening and its final revelation, the plot of E.T. has parallels in religious mythology that help to explain its electric effect on audiences. But although conclusively demonstrating Spielberg's preeminence as the popular artist of his time, E.T. finally seems a less impressive film than Close Encounters. This is partly because its first half contains a couple of comedy sequences as vulgar as a Brooke Bond TV chimps commercial, but more because in reducing the unknowable to the easily loveable, the film sacrifices a little too much truth in favour of its huge emotional punch.