E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 20th Anniversary Edition (2002)
"Mommy, I'm only 6--I don't want to go to rehab! "
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E.T. is a movie that had a profound impact on me when I was young. You could say it is one of those films that really got me interested in movies. Along with Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, I'd have to say that this beloved treasure is my all time favorite film.
Upon hearing of this 20th anniversary edition, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, this movie is the closest you're going to get to perfection, so tampering with it seems pointless. On the other, I was completely excited at the prospect of getting to see it on the big screen again.
To my surprise, I discovered that there would be a special advanced screening of E.T., during the Winter Games. The film isn't slated for release until March 22, but I had the opportunity to see it on Feb. 20, which, as fate would have it, also happens to be my birthday. What are the chances of that? Needless to say, I immediately bought tickets to the event with great anticipation. Given that Mr. Spielberg was at the Opening Ceremonies, I thought there was a good chance that he'd be at the screening as well. I've met many celebrities through my years, but I have yet to meet the famed director, and getting to shake his hand would be a dream come true for me.
Of all the entertainers that have inspired me throughout my thirty three years of life, Mr. Spielberg is clearly my favorite. Why? That's not an easy question to answer. Although he's made a few films that I'm first to admit were not the best, I've found that I'm more often moved by his work than not.
This E.T. screening was being presented at Abravanel Hall, a venue built for concerts, so I was a bit worried that the sound might not be the best. Boy was I wrong, but we'll get to that in a second. Sadly, my dreams of meeting Mr. Spielberg on this day were shattered. He was busy shooting Catch Me if You Can in Los Angeles. However, Producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy were on hand to introduce the film. They explained that we were the first audience to see the movie, which was met with a huge round of applause.
Finally, the lights dimmed and the movie started. The digitally re-mastered audio track was quite noticeable. John William's breathtaking score sounded better than ever. It's easily one of the very best of his career. Thankfully, the sound at Abravanel was near perfect. This movie was loud!
Though nearly everyone in the world is familiar with this film's plot, I will give a brief description. E.T. is the touching story of a young boy and his friendship with an alien being. Of course that is just the basic outline. What really makes this film excel, is it's passion, heart and innocence. The writing, acting, and directing all add to this incredibly moving experience. Spielberg's ability to work with children remains legendary and his splendid storytelling approach is as captivating as ever.
What has changed? Thankfully, very little. Spielberg hasn't tampered with the film too much. There are only two new scenes to speak of. Without giving away too much, one of the scenes involves some nifty CGI effects while the other showcases Drew Barrymore's spunky attitude. One scene not included is a sequence that features Harrison Ford as Elliot's principal. It was thought for quite sometime that this scene would surely be added, alas Marshall and Kennedy confessed that the Ford appearance wasn't that good and actually disrupts the flow of the movie.
Most of the changes in the picture are merely touch-up work. We get more detailed shots of E.T.'s face. There are even some new shots of the cuddly little guy walking. E.T.'s ship has also been slightly reworked. It has more of a reflective surface.
It had also been rumored that the infamous "penis breath" line would be removed. Thankfully, this hilarious moment remains intact. Missing, not surprisingly, is a moment during the Halloween sequence in which Dee Wallace says that her son looks like "a terrorist." Now she calls him "a hippie" instead which doesn't really make a lot of sense in the context of the scene, but hardly harms the film.
The most significant change that seems to have purists in a major uproar comes towards the film's end when the government officials' guns are digitally replaced with walkie talkies. I wasn't bothered by this at first, but it does disrupt the flow of the climactic bicycle chase. Right before Elliot and the gang take flight, Spielberg has opted to take away a shot of an officer stepping out of his car with a rifle in his hand. As a result, there seems to be a beat of tension missing from the sequence.
E.T. is a film very close to my heart, and I'm excited that a whole new generation now has the chance to experience it for the very first time. It's strange that one of the very best movies of 2002 is a film that actually opene ned to such luke warm box offices.
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