on 6 August 2014
E.T. – THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL  [Limited Edition SteelBook] [Blu-ray + Digital Copy + ULTRAVIOLET]
‘E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial,’ is often referred to simply as E.T. and is a 1982 American science fiction film coproduced and directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, featuring special effects by Carlo Rambaldi and Dennis Muren, and starring Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote. It tells the story of Elliott [Henry Thomas], a lonely boy who befriends an extra-terrestrial, dubbed "E.T.," who is stranded on Earth. Elliott and his siblings help it return home while attempting to keep it hidden from their mother and the government.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 55th Academy Awards®: Won: Best Original Score. Won: Best Sound for Robert Knudson, Robert Glass, Don Digirolamo and Gene Cantamessa. Won: Best Sound Effects Editing for Charles L. Campbell and Ben Burtt. Won: Best Visual Effects (Carlo Rambaldi, Dennis Muren and Kenneth F. Smith. 40th Golden Globe® Awards: Won: Best Picture in the Drama. Won: Best Score. Nominated: Best Director. Nominated: Best Screenplay. Nominated: Best New Male Star for Henry Thomas. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded the film Best Picture, Best Director, and a "New Generation Award" for Melissa Mathison. The film won Saturn Awards for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Writing, Best Special Effects, Best Music, and Best Poster Art, while Henry Thomas, Robert McNaughton, and Drew Barrymore won Young Artist Awards. In addition to his Golden Globe® Award and Saturn Award, composer John Williams won 2 Grammy Awards and a BAFTA® for the score. “E.T.” was also honoured abroad: the film won the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Blue Ribbon Awards in Japan, Cinema Writers Circle Awards in Spain, César Awards in France, and David di Donatello in Italy.
Cast: Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, K.C. Martel, Sean Frye, C. Thomas Howell, Erika Eleniak, David M. O'Dell, Richard Swingler, Frank Toth, Robert Barton, Michael Darrell, Ted Grossman, Kevin Jessup, James Kahn, Richard S. Weisman, Debra Winger and Pat Welsh (E.T. voice)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producers: Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy
Screenplay: Melissa Mathison
Composer: John Williams
Cinematography: Allen Daviau
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 2.0 Original Stereo, French: 7.1 Dolby Digital 1982, French: 2.0 Dolby Digital 1982 and Dutch: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Arabic, Cantonese, Dutch, Korean, Mandarin (Traditional) and Ukrainian
Running Time: 110 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Universal Pictures
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: ‘E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial’  is more than a film, it is one of those rare cinematic occurrences that strikes at exactly the right time and place, revealing the cultural zeitgeist of the moment. The film sparked an immediate pop culture frenzy when it was released in 1982; it turned the precocious, young Drew Barrymore into a household name, led to a 65% increase in the sale of “Reese's Pieces” and had kids, and even adults, everywhere saying, "E.T.” phone home." The film grossed $700 million worldwide, making it the top-grossing film of the 1980s and the 4th highest U.S. box office of all time. Variety called “E.T.” "the best Disney movie Walt Disney never made." And Rolling Stone raved that Steven Spielberg was "the most successful movie director in Hollywood, America, the Occident, the planet Earth, the solar system and the galaxy." But E.T. was never intended to be such a phenomenon.
After his success with ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ , Steven Spielberg had instead set out to make a smaller, more personal film. "E.T.” was about the divorce of my parents, how I felt after my parents broke up," Steven Spielberg admitted. "It was the first movie I ever made for myself." The idea for “E.T.” began to form while the director was on location in Tunisia for ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ A lonely Steven Spielberg started picturing something of an imaginary friend. "It was like when you were a kid and had grown out of dolls or teddy bears," he recalled. "You just wanted a little voice in your mind to talk to. I began concocting this imaginary creature, partially from the guys who stepped out of the Mother Ship for ninety seconds in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ ." He shared the idea with Melissa Mathison, Harrison Ford's screenwriter girlfriend who had already penned two family films ‘The Black Stallion’  and ‘The Escape Artist’ . Together Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison fleshed out the story.
Melissa Mathison would receive sole screenwriting credit on “E.T.” even though there was a significant second influence on Steven Spielberg's story. John Sayles had a script in development at Columbia called ‘Night Skies.’ Steven Spielberg had done some work on the project and was considering directing it. John Sayles' story revolved around malevolent aliens who terrorize a farmhouse. The aliens could kill just by touching a victim with a long, bony finger. Night Skies also featured a friendly alien "Buddy" who forms a friendship with a child. And in the last scene, Buddy is marooned on earth, left behind by his people. Given the similarities between E.T.'s set up and Night Skies' ending, Spielberg offered Sayles and Columbia first refusal on his new benevolent alien angle. Sayles declined and did not pursue screen credit. The studio also passed on “E.T.,” but they retained 5% of the profits enough to make “E.T.,” a film produced by Universal, Columbia's most profitable film of the year.
Steven Spielberg was given a $10.5 million budget for “E.T.” and not a huge amount considering Raiders estimated $20 million price tag. The “E.T.” puppet alone cost $1.5 million. It was designed by special effects wizard Carlo Rambaldi and made use of two control systems; the first allowed for the “E.T.” movements to be controlled by puppeteers and the second, an electronic system, created E.T.'s mannerisms, like wrinkling his nose. In all, E.T. was capable of 85 movements, had 35 facial expressions and stood three feet tall. There were three versions of the puppet with four interchangeable heads. In long shots, when “E.T.” was walking, little people in an E.T. suit took over the part.
Along with a smaller-than-usual Steven Spielberg budget, the director took a chance with his normal production process, forgoing his need to storyboard every scene. For “E.T.,” Steven Spielberg mainly sketched just the effects shots. "I had the feeling the boards might force the child actors into stiff unnatural attitudes and I didn't want that," explained Steven Spielberg. “E.T.” was shot over 61 days in the fall of 1981. Several exterior locations around Southern California were used, as well as interiors filmed at Culver City High School. The bulk of the film was shot at Laird International Studios in Culver City. Spielberg chose Laird to keep “E.T.” off the Universal lot. He was greatly concerned with secrecy during the production. All the cast and crew were required to sign confidentiality agreements. Even Spielberg's dog Willie was issued an ID badge while visiting.
“E.T.” grossed $11.8 million its opening weekend; Spielberg himself was said to be making half a million dollars a day during the first week of the “E.T.” release. He was also guaranteed 10% of all licensed “E.T.” products, as well as product approval on everything from pyjamas to lunchboxes and alarm clocks to bubble gum. Universal Pictures spent $2 million filing suit against non-licensed merchandise. It was a small price to pay as “E.T.” set a new standard for movie merchandising. It took in an additional $1 billion in merchandise revenue. But home video profits were put on hold. Steven Spielberg felt that E.T. should only be viewed on the big screen. The film was finally released on video in 1988. Again, in a brilliant bit of foresight, Steven Spielberg was contractually guaranteed 50% of video profits.
With the film's success came the inevitable complaints and lawsuits. Melissa Mathison cited her screenplay description of the alien as proof that she created E.T.'s likeness and the Writers' Guild agreed. Arbitration was settled in her favour, granting Melissa Mathison a piece of the merchandising profits. Several other writers made claims that their work had been plagiarised by “E.T.,” but these suits were all thrown out. The allegation that probably concerned Spielberg the most was made by Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, who asserted similarities and down to specific scenes between “E.T.” and an unproduced screenplay of Satyajit Ray's called ‘The Alien’ which had been circulated in Hollywood. Eventually Satyajit Ray was persuaded to withdraw the claim.
A few final notes of interest about E.T.: In Sweden, Finland and Norway, children under 12 were banned from seeing the film because of the "portrayal of adults as the enemies of children." The week “E.T.” opened; Steven Spielberg used some of his half-million dollar-a-day profits to buy the original Rosebud sled from ‘Citizen Kane’  for $65,000 at auction at Sotheby's. “Reese's Pieces” will forever be associated with “E.T.” but the candy selected for the film was originally supposed to be M&M's. Allegedly, Mars declined to be involved, saying the subject matter was unsuitable and would frighten children.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Restored and remastered from the original 35mm negatives, 'E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial' lands on Blu-ray with a terrific awesome 1080p encode image. The cinematography of Allen Daviau is well preserved and remains faithful to the intentions of the filmmakers. A large portion of the film was shot indoors with poor lighting conditions, an artistic choice which reflects the story's many themes. Despite the amount of heavy shadows and limited light, details come through without issue, revealing many of the small trinkets and pieces of furniture scattered throughout the family house. Fine lines are distinct with excellent lifelike textures on the faces of the cast and on a variety of clothing. E.T., in particular, looks especially realistic with a never-before-noticed slimy sheen, allowing fans to fully appreciate Carlo Rambaldi's creation. Daylight exteriors, as would be expected, look best with sharp definition in the surrounding foliage and the architecture of the suburban neighbourhood. Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the transfer displays a fine, visible layer of grain that's consistent and stable with a crisp and well-balanced contrast. True to the film's deliberate look, interiors are quite dim and dark with an interesting haze and lots of shadows. This has a slight effect on the colour palette, but primaries are accurate from beginning to end with warm secondary hues. Black levels are also somewhat effected, but not to any damaging extent, appearing quite rich and deep for a majority of the films runtime. All in all, the picture quality is in excellent condition and should satisfy fans.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The sci-fi family classic also arrives with a spectacular and immersive 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, but you also get the 2.0 Original Stereo soundtrack. Without a doubt, the track's greatest and most thrilling aspect is the memorable score of John Williams, breathing life to the sound system with rich detail and clarity in all seven channels. Every time the haunting, fairy-tale-like motif comes on, the front soundstage fills with warmth and fidelity, generating a wonderfully engaging image. Dynamics and acoustics are crisp with sharp, almost lifelike precision in the instrumentation. Vocals are clean and well-prioritized in the centre with remarkable intonation, allowing for viewers to hear every tearful piece of dialogue. Low bass is appropriate for a movie of this vintage, mostly reserved for providing depth to the music. Equally impressive, and adding to the overall joy of listening to “E.T.” as if for the first time, are the surrounds, utilized on numerous occasions to enhance the action. Surprisingly, discrete effects never sound artificial or forced. Instead, they create a satisfyingly immersive sound field with excellent directionality. Subtle atmospherics in outdoors sequences broaden the listening area while the sounds of cars or space ships flying overhead move with fluid, flawless panning. John Williams' music also participates in the fun with great envelopment, pulling viewers into the middle of the excitement and drama. It's a fantastic lossless mix that long-time fans will love, like watching the film again for the first time.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Deleted Scenes [1080p] The two, now-infamous scenes which were restored to the 2002 re-release of the film with digital alterations are shown here.
Special Feature: Steven Spielberg and E.T. [1080p] [13:00] A recent interview with the legendary filmmaker about the story's origins, its themes and the final script. Several comments are reiterations from other documentary, but it still makes for a good conversation about a few of the technical details of the filmmaking process.
Special Feature: The E.T. Journals [Parts 1 and 2] [54:00] Another great documentary made from Behind-the-Scenes footage and interviews shot during the production and edited in order as they would appear in the film. Broken into two parts that can be watched sequentially or separately, fans can watch how each scene was accomplished, see Steven Spielberg at work and enjoy several never-before-seen scenes from the set. While Williams's iconic score plays in the background, we get lots of wonderful footage of the daily activity of the kids, hear many amusing comments and get a good sense of the camaraderie of cast and crew.
Special Feature: A Look Back [38:00] A short making-of documentary, formerly exclusive to the 3-disc DVD, features interviews with cast and crew talking about their experiencing on the production and sharing many wonderful memories. Tons of Behind-the-Scene footage plays in between the comments, making it a great watch for fans.
Special Feature: The Evolution and Creation of E.T. [50:00] A bit more recent and longer doc than the previous, showing Spielberg talking about the story's origins, the film's themes and the personal influences the director injected into it. With more Behind-the-Scene footage interspersed throughout, several comments from other key players revolve around working with each other and the alien creature, the casting and of course, developing the right look for “E.T.” and the casts' emotional response. Best bits are towards the end with comparisons of the original 1982 cut to the digital alterations of the 2002 version, which actually look awful but Spielberg defends wholeheartedly.
Special Feature: The E.T. Reunion [18:00] Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy reunite with the main cast to talk and reminisce on the production, working with one other and the film's impact on each person's life.
Special Feature: The Music of E.T.: A Discussion with John Williams [10:00] A brief but fairly interesting conversation with John Williams, where he talks about his impression of the film and about developing one of the most memorable cinematic scores.
Special Feature: The 20th Anniversary Premiere [18:00] A look at the preparation, rehearsal and work that went into the 2002 theatrical premiere with a live performance of John Williams's score.
Special Feature: Designs, Photographs and Marketing [1080p] Broken into six categories, this is a still gallery of concept art and design by Ed Verreaux, Carlo Rambaldi and Ralph McQuarrie. There is also a large collection of production stills and marketing photos for fans to enjoy.
Theatrical Trailer: The Original Theatrical preview. Special Olympics TV Spot: Vintage TV spot for the Special Olympics with “E.T.”
Finally, following one box-office success after another, Steven Spielberg delivered another blockbuster smash with 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,' a sci-fi masterpiece about friendship, family, and dealing with feelings of loneliness. During its release, the simple story of a boy befriending a stranded alien captured the imagination of the world, quickly growing into a cultural phenomenon and is today remembered as a timeless classic with a universal appeal for future generations. The Blu-ray lands with a spectacular and cinematic high-definition transfer, along with an excellent audio presentation that will surely entertain. While many of the supplements are the same from previous inferior NTSC DVD releases, the package includes two new exclusives that will satisfy fans, making this Blu-ray edition a must-own. Ever since I first viewed this beautiful film in London and had a 10 hanky Kleenex crying experience, like the rest of the cinema going public as the credits rolled up the screen, I have loved this exquisite beautiful film ever since and now I have this equally beautiful designed Limited Edition SteelBook exclusive to a UK Release, it has now gone pride of place in my ever increasing Steven Spielberg Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom