E.T. / Stranger Things Scene Comparison



Like many, I've been sucked in by Netflix's Stranger Things. It's blatantly derivative, but I'm a fan of all of the things it so liberally steals from, including (but not limited to) early 80s Amblin movies, cult horror flicks, and even the creature design of Guillermo del Toro.

It's a well-made and highly entertaining show, with some great performances, but it's also a victim of the OCD cutting style Hollywood has adapted in the past several years. Nowhere is this more evident than the Dungeons & Dragons scene from Episode 1, which introduces the main characters of the story -- a scene that (like many moments in the show) is inspired by Steven Spielberg's E.T.

Take a look at a side by side comparison:

Notice the visual economy of Spielberg's approach. Including the establishing shot of the house, the E.T. scene employs a total of 8 setups and 11 cuts. The scene from Stranger Things, by comparison, is constructed from 16 setups and 64 cuts. Many of these cuts are less than 1 second in length.


So, what am I saying? Is Stranger Things an example of bad filmmaking? Not necessarily. The show is effective in what it sets out to do, and many scenes exercise more restraint than the one above. I'm just trying to point out that sometimes less is more.

Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments below.


Ryan SmithComment