There's a rhyming in the posters of E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial and Empire of the Sun. The big moon is replaced with the the big sun; the silhouetted child on the bike is now a silhouetted boy and the Michelangelo inspired contact between the alien finger and the human finger is now a near meeting of the boy's toy airplane and the kamikaze fighter returning to the Earth in flames.
I've never really understood this idea that Steven Spielberg felt it necessary to move into serious films. To me Jaws, Close Encounters and E.T. qualify as serious films. Yes, they also happen to be hugely entertaining and popular, but that's beside the point. The Seven Samurai was successful as was 2001: A Space Odyssey. Vertigo also. And they're also highly entertaining and serious films. But it was Spielberg himself to some extent who wanted to move on to more weighty material. To prove that he was an artist and not simply a money maker. And so we come to his 1985 adaptation of Alice Walker's breakout novel The Color Purple.
John Bleasdale is a writer. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, Il Manifesto, as well as CineVue.Com and theStudioExec.com. He has also written a number of plays, screenplays and novels.