E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Digital 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is available at retailers everywhere
It's hard to believe we've reached the 40th Anniversary of Steven Spielberg's classic 1982 film about a heartwarming friendship between a boy named Eliot and a friendly alien who just wants to get back home.
It feels like yesterday I was sitting at my local multiplex in Westchester, NY watching the film for the first time for it's 20th anniversary re-release in 2002. I went with a friend who said it was one of his all time favorites. Personally I think one has to view it at a very young age to become that connected to it as I feel the film is geared more towards children. As a child one can latch onto Elliot and his siblings more easily and put themselves in their predicament and generate more fun from the material. While I think it's a sweet and entertaining film it doesn't rank among my all time favorites from Spielberg.
The 20th anniversary release featured some upgraded effects changes. My favorite and what I find the most amusing of the changes is towards the end. As Elliot begins his ascent onto the bike and into the sky there are policemen patrolled in front of him. Originally one of the policeman held a gun in his hand. Spielberg digitally replaced the gun in his hand with a walkie-talkie to make it less threatening. A totally unnecessary change that probably hurts the film as it lowers the stakes and makes the whole sequence less risky.
For it's 40th anniversary Universal has released a beautiful new anniversary edition of E.T. The Extraterrestrial in a 4K as well as a Blu-Ray set. The Transfer is exquisite, highlighting cinematographer Allen Daviau's beautiful work in its finest incantation.
Daviau's involvement with Spielberg has a great origin story:
While doing a lawnmower commercial in Arizona, Daviau learned that Spielberg was looking for a cinematographer for E.T. and sent the director a tape of The Boy Who Drank Too Much, a 1980 tv film that he shot. "It had a lot of mood, and it's about kids, so I knew Steven would watch it!" Daviau said. Spielberg stated that he contacted Daviau for his next feature, saying, "I did something I rarely do. I didn't think twice; I picked up the phone and asked Allen if he would photograph my next feature."
Daviau would end up lensing three more features for Spielberg in his career. He passed way, sadly in 2020 due to complications from Covid.
This past summer I had the honor of meeting makeup and sfx guru Craig Reardon who has the curious credit of "special artistic consultant" on the film. I asked him what that entailed and he shared that he helped decided on the color scheme of the E.T. character design.
The new set is packed with enough special features to keep any cinema fan satiated and includes the following:
40 Years of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
TCM Classic Film Festival: An Evening with Steven Spielberg
The E.T. Journals
Steven Spielberg & E.T.
The Evolution and Creation of E.T.
The E.T. Reunion
The Music of E.T.: A Discussion with John Williams
The 20th Anniversary Premiere
Designs, Photographs, and Marketing
Special Olympics TV Spot
A title worth owning at anytime, the new 40th anniversary edition is a must have. One can only wonder what format will be available in ten years for it's 50th anniversary edition!