Speilberg’s ET was inspired by a Maltese artist: an exhibition at MUŻA in Valletta gives you the opportunity to understand why.

At the Museum of Arts in Valletta (Muża), there is currently an interesting exhibition of paintings by the Maltese artist Giorgio Preca. Preca was born in Valletta in 1909 and died in Rome in 1984. In Malta, he is mostly known for his portraits but in Rome, he had the most rewarding artistic experiences to the extent that he was nicknamed the Dean of the Maltese artists. In truth, Preca was the artist who introduced Modern Art in Malta. Even though he settled in Rome, he continued to consider Malta his home. In 1948, he organized an exhibition at the Phoenicia Hotel which prompted a huge debate because of the technique and style that he presented to the viewers.

A small selection of Giorgio Preca’s paintings is currently being exhibited at the Museum of Arts in Merchant Street (opposite Palazzo Parisio). Among the paintings exhibited are four drawings and seven paintings that many critics believe inspired Speilburg’s famous character ET. E.T. was created by Carlo Rambaldi, an Italian special effects artist. Rambaldi was born in Vigarano Mainarda in Emilia Romagna. If one looks at the character of the extraterrestrial in Preca’s paintings, one will be impressed by the resemblances that exist between Speilberg’s character and Preca’s creation.

It is a historical fact that Giorgio Preca exhibited these paintings both in Italy and also the UK. These works were given extensive coverage when he exhibited them in the 1950s. Preca named these paintings as the Extraterrestial who came from the Moon. It is also called the Inhabitants of the Moon. The inhabitants of the moon came over to the Earth and discovered Malta and became its inhabitants. In other words, the E.T, character had landed first on the island of Malta. At least this was Giorgio Preca’s imagination. 

When ET the film was issued in 1982, Giorgio Preca was still alive. The Italian art historian, Fabiola Polsinelli refers to an article that may have inspired Rambaldi. The article in question was issued in 1976. In this article, it is clearly stated that these characters in Preca’s paintings can be an inspiration for a film. One cannot exclude that Rambaldi had read this article or saw Preca’s drawings and paintings and these influenced him when creating  ET for Spielberg.

What is even more interesting is the fact that another painting in this series of paintings done in the early 1950s and is related to this theme of the inhabitants from the moon who went to settle in Malta has a representation of dragons. Personally, this painting reminded me of another film by Spielberg entitled Jurassic Park!

Those who would like to check for themselves and see other paintings by Preca should grab the opportunity to visit Muża. These paintings by Preca about extraterrestrials who came and settled in Malta have been animated graphically and this helps the viewer to understand better the characters created by Giorgio Preca. 

This exhibition closes on the 27th of February 2022. 

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