Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Robert MacNaughton, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote
Written by: Melissa Mathison
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Distributor: Universal Studios
Run Time: 1h 55min
Original Year of Release: 1982
With any movie like E.T. (and especially E.T.) watching it awakens memories of when you saw it as a kid. To this day I remember the second time I saw the movie and cried my eyes out. I was all of seven years old and wrestled with the embarrassment of what happened. I wasn’t scared, no one close to me died, yet there were those tears. Was I really crying for this alien that was no more than a fictitious character in a movie? I was able to control those “movie tears” for years after that but now I actually look forward to them. Hell, the last time I really remember letting loose was during Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Where and when? That’s my secret.
E.T. is a great and strange movie. Strange as in it changes with you as you grow older. In 1982 I was an older brother. Not as old as Elliot’s (Henry Thomas) but I knew how to torture my sibling to get what I wanted. No, I identified with Elliot right away. How could I not as we had the same toys and quoted the same movies (Star Wars)? As I got to be Mike’s (Robert MacNaughton) age, I understood the responsibility of looking after a younger brother. We might not have always agreed but we were always on the same side. I’m sure if I had been any younger I would have started with Gertie (Drew Barrymore). Yet as I grew older and will probably have children of my own, I’ll identify with Mary (Dee Wallace). As time keeps turning so does E.T. and our identification with its characters.
One of the amazing things (and there are many) about E.T. is how director Steven Spielberg plays with light. It is everywhere in the film. Take notice of how and where it is pointed, directly into the camera. This works on multiple levels in building a mood and changing the characters. With the mood, we find the warmth in Elliot’s world. Inside his room is a place of security and love. The world on the other side of those rainbow blinds is dark, mysterious, and dangerous. Thankfully, our hero found his way into Elliot’s haven.
The lighting for the characters is something that not many people take notice of on a first or second glance. Watch the film again, especially now in marvelous 4K Ultra HD, as the characters’ faces are engulfed in shadows. This isn’t Henry Thomas we’re watching. It’s a boy talking to this magical creature he found. That boy could be you or even your son. The character of “Keys” (Peter Coyote) evidently has this lighting technique used in the majority of the film. His face is never seen (well almost nothing above the belt) until the end. Yet, when he is revealed, he is not some horrible monster of a man. No, he’s a wide-eyed dreamer, like Elliot, who knows just how special E.T. really is. Spielberg painted a dark canvas filled with spots of warmth and hope. His reflection of our world is one that has endured.
The AFJ take on the 4KHD release:
What is so incredible about the 4K release is that the “Special Edition” of E.T., from the 2002 20th anniversary, is not present. However, what does appear is one of the deleted scenes with the enhanced digital version of E.T. Just watching this one scene is enough to know you never want to watch that version, ever.
So what does the 4K version do to the practical effects of E.T.?
The spaceship is still fantastic. Spielberg pointing the lights right at the camera only enhances each scene. What does stand out is that E.T. looks fake. Now, this could be, because, I know he is just a puppet and or an actor in a suit. I just really noticed it this time. I would like to watch it with a child for the first time. All to see if they would buy into the fantasy of the creature or point out if the creature looks phony.
Anything new on the special features?
The scene of Harrison Ford as Elliot’s principal is still not present. I don’t think we can ever expect to see that. Much like the crazy outtake from Indiana and Jones and the Temple of Doom featuring Carrie Fisher and Barbra Streisand, it may be something for Spielberg and Spielberg alone. All of the special features (listed below) are held over from the 30th-anniversary release. Perhaps one day the kids in the film will provide a commentary on their experiences in the film. The film, itself, has never looked better and that alone makes it worth picking up.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 4K Ultra HD and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 35th Anniversary Gift Set are both out now (just in time for Halloween).
BONUS FEATURES on BLU-RAY™ and DVD:
The E.T. Journals - Retrace the day-to-day experience of creating E.T from behind-the-scenes footage shot by Academy Award®-winning cinematographer John Toll.
Steven Spielberg & E.T. - Watch an interview with Steven Spielberg, as he reflects back on the film and discusses his experience working with the actors, as well as his overall and current perspective on E.T.
The Music of E.T.: A Discussion with John Williams - Interviews and footage focused on the long-standing relationship between John Williams and Steven Spielberg.
Designs, Photographs and Marketing of E.T
E.T. Designs by Production Illustrator Ed Verreaux
E.T. Designs by Carlo Rambaldi
Spaceship Designs by Ralph McQuarrie
Designs by Production Illustrator Ed Verreaux
Marketing E.T. A Look Back - A special insider’s look into the making of E.T. featuring interviews with Steven Spielberg, the cast, and others intimately involved with the film.
The E.T. Reunion - The cast and filmmaker reunite to discuss their thoughts on the impact of the film.
The 20th Anniversary Premiere - Composer John Williams played the score of E.T. live at the Shrine Auditorium for the re-release premiere of E.T. This featurette gives us a behind the scenes look at this presentation.