Retro Review: E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial

Whether you call it the “anniversary” edition or the “special” edition, that little wrinkled adorable alien returns to the silver screen after twenty years.

Back in 1982, Steven Spielberg was emerging as a visionary filmmaker after coming off the explosion of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. There weren’t a lot of people that knew about his new emotional project, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”.

Most of society was locked in “Star Wars” fever as the dawn of the third film “Return of the Jedi” (or Episode Six as it is referred to now) was coming the following year. People really had no idea that this small film with no real actors would become the “science-fiction” phenomenon that it is today.

On June 4th, 1982, “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan” opened into theatres which happened to be the weekend before “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”.

Wrath of Khan exploded into the box-office with a $14.3 million in its first weekend. This was amazing for the second Star Trek film since it only cost $11 million to make.

The marketplace was flooded with science-fiction mayhem and it seemed pretty imposing for the little alien movie.

When “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” did finally make it into theatres on June 13, 1982 it opened with an $11.9 million dollar opening (The film’s budget was $10.5). E.T. opened against “Grease 2” and sank it forever into video stores. Merchandising exploded and E.T. dolls and billions of Reese’s Pieces flew across store shelves. The E.T. merchandizing craze’s was one of the biggest of the 1980’s.

The 1982 summer movie season closed with such high-profile and infamous films like “Blade Runner” and “John Carpenter’s The Thing” and “Tron” making ’82 one of the most profitable film seasons of the ’80s. 1982 was a headline year partially in thanks to the “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” phenomenon. 1982 was probably only dwarfed by the more profitable summers of ’84 and ’89.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” for those of you who don’t know tells the story of 3-foot tall alien who is accidentally left behind by his botanist parents while exploring a forest on Earth. A 10-year old boy, Elliot (Henry Thomas), reluctantly at first, builds a friendship with the alien and together they teach each other about life.

Elliot brings the small alien into his life and his family. After Elliot and the alien begin to communicate, Elliot learns that all the alien wants is to return home. Elliot must do all he can to help his friend and thus their adventure begins.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”, the film, is a time-capsule that allows a lot of us to re-enter our childhood mysticism and reminisce about what the summer of 1982 was really like.

I remember, for me, that E.T. was the first movie that I ever cried in because I felt that the relationship between Elliot and E.T. was so real. I wanted to be Elliot so much. I am sure I am not the only child who from that summer who felt that way.

Now 20 years later, I saw the film and I was immediately drawn back to that time and once more a tear did come to my eye. The added digital effects to E.T.’s face make him even more real than he was in 1982. I was utterly amazed at how just a little tinkering could make this timeless figure even more real. If I didn’t know better I would swear this alien actually did live.

In the anniversary cut of the film, Spielberg splices in the infamous “bathroom” scene which for me felt like it should have been apart of the experience from the beginning. I can understand that back in 1982 it would have been hard to do the scene justice with as much realism as the rest of the film. But with new CGI technology this scene is now an utter gem and really worth seeing.

I liked all the technology used to make E.T. more life like because for me he always was very real. This new scene is a new look at E.T. and as heart-warming as the rest of piece.

I have never thought it was possible to make something more perfect when it was so back in 1982. When I witnessed this anniversary special, I was proved wrong. Bring this little alien back into your hearts or take your kids to witness a friendship only ever seen on screen in one film.

(5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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