E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

There’s little I can add to what has been written and said about E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. It’s a wonderful movie and now it’s finally available on DVD with both the 2002 anniversary edition and the original theatrical version.

It’s been ages since I last saw E.T. so when I went to the 2-disc Special Edition I watched the updated, 2002 version first. I haven’t compared it to the original (though I did watch the special features and what they said about the changes) but I can say that while I watched it I wasn’t aware of any differences.

From this I conclude that the changes really don’t affect the audience.

You need to be aware of the changes and where they occur to notice them.

From the story-telling point of view, they affect nothing. The film simply looks very good and, given this, I have to say I prefer this version.

But I’m glad the package includes the original. From the collecting and historical point of view, it’s an essential element … even if you don’t watch it.

As for the movie, having not seen it for such a long time I was struck by two things. One was the fairly slow pace of the film, at least relative to the kinds of movies we see today. This movie takes its time to establish its characters and relationships, and to tell its story thoroughly. This is one of the reasons the film still resonates with audiences.

The other aspect I noticed was how sombre the film feels. It begins eerily with its slow introduction of E.T. Within the family scenes, there is a kind of oppressive sadness that permeates them. Not excessively, mind you. It’s just a slight flavouring that runs through them. But its this tone that accentuates and enhances the way the film resolves and makes the final scenes so effective with their bittersweet denouement.

It’s the quality of this ending that makes E.T. a fairytale of the first order. It was wonderful in 1982, and it’s just as wonderful in 2002. The only difference is that it looks better.

© 2002 Piddleville Inc.

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