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Special review of the 20th Anniversary Edition,
This review is from: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (Special Edition) [DVD]  (DVD)
In 1982 the original version of Spielberg's E. T., The Extra Terrestrial to hit the theatres and became one of the biggest hits in movie history. Spielberg and his crew had created an international phenomena which has gone into cinema history as one of the top twenty highest grossing films this century. The scene where Eliot and E.T. fly across the moon, now the official logo of Spielberg's Amblin studios, is one of the most recognizable moments in cinema.
To those select few unfamiliar with E.T., the story is both very solid and well-crafted. An anthropologist race of extraterrestrials are investigating the vegetation on earth, and due to people chasing them, the ship has to go, leaving a lone alien, who promptly has to run for his life. After a memorable sequence in Eliot's family shed, where E.T. throws a baseball back after Eliot hears a noise and he throws it in, Eliot gets scared. None of his family believes them, but in the end Eliot finally meets E.T. From there, E.T. learns to talk, teaches Eliot a thing or two about drinking, and takes him on the most memorable bike-ride in movie history. Through the course of the movie, the government, whose never fully explained in the film, discover just where E.T. is at, and they try to take him away. The climax of the film is both harrowing and very emotional. There are two things to be noted about the film's ending. One, E.T. was filmed chronologically, a very rare thing in Hollywood. The emotional response of each of the principals to E.T.'s departure is real. Another is that E.T. is the only film that Spielberg has reedited to fit the film's score. The original ending was too short for John Williams' score, and Williams told Spielberg about the problem he had, and Spielberg changed the film's ending to fit his score.
That's the film in all its glory. The original deserves all the acclaim it got. So what have they added in the Twentieth Anniversary re-release? Well, some very interesting changes. The most noticeable is the opening scenes where E.T. runs away from the humans. In the original, as Spielberg said in the documentary recently aired on ABC, E.T. looked as if he was on a track, and in the rerelease you can see E.T. actually running. They added two deleted scenes, one from the Halloween sequence and a bathroom scene with Elliot and E.T. Why the Halloween scene didn't make it to the original I'm not sure. The bathroom scene was cut because Spielberg felt the animatronics were too lacking. They have digitally reanimated many of E.T.'s facial shots, the most noticeable being Elliot's first encounter with E.T. and when Gerty (Barrymore) meets E.T. for the first time. To the original film's credit, most of E.T. himself goes untouched, and what they do change never feels gratuitous or out of place. While over 100 shots were redone, they are so seamlessly incorporated into the original that it never occurs to you that this has been redone. The only time you can really tell it's CGI is the bathroom scene. George Lucas could learn a few things from Spielberg in this regard.
The most interesting changes occur near the end of the film. In the original, Elliot's mother tells his brother that he cannot go to Halloween as a terrorist. In the ending sequence, the agent's guns are changed to walkie-talkies, which Spielberg said he always regretted having in the original film and would be the one guaranteed change if he ever re-released E.T. One of the rumored changes that did not make the film is Harrison Ford's only scene as Elliot's principal which was cut from the film because Spielberg thought it was to distracting. (Ford's wife wrote E.T.'s screenplay). Hopefully, we will see this footage on the DVD.
For those of you who have not seen it, this is a great opportunity to see this remarkable film. For those of you who know the film, discover E.T.'s magic one more time.
April 3, 2002