It’s a film so iconic that it helped define a generation. The story of a young boy, Elliot (Henry Thomas), who befriends an alien stranded on Earth, E.T. captured the both the heart and imagination of filmgoers everywhere when it was first released in 1982. Now, 35 years later, a special edition blu-ray commemorates the classic, complete with a near-perfect remastering of Steven Spielberg’s film, along with a whopping three hours of bonus material to lose yourself in.
Regarding the film itself, one of the most jarring changes I’d noticed in a prior release was the integration of a CG E.T. interspersed with original footage of the costume ran by puppeteers. This edition goes a long way in bridging the gap, making the CG E.T. seem much less jarring when he appears. And yes, this was much more important to me as a viewer than the replacement of the federal agents’ guns with flashlights, which didn’t bother me then and doesn’t bother me now.
On that note, there is a version of the film found on the second disc that contains nothing but pre-CG E.T. for purists.
As far as the special features go, a mini-documentary titled Steven Spielberg and E.T., talks to the director today about what went into him creating the story, his work with screenwriter Melissa Matheson, and how he went out of his way to create a true kids’ movie by telling it almost exclusively from their perspective.
Along with anecdotes of showing the film at the White House, and referring to then-President Reagan as a “tender old boy” while viewing it, Spielberg briefly gives some insight into the film’s much-desired sequel that never ended up coming together.
Though what’s perhaps even more engaging is The E.T. Journals, a two-part look comprised entirely of behind-the-scenes footage shot during the production in 1981. Including some on-set interviews with Spielberg, it’s a glimpse at a film as it was being composed, before it had taken the world by storm.
Conversely, E.T. – A Look Back shows on-set footage with interviews with Spielberg and co-producer Kathleen Kennedy years later about how the film evolved from John Sayles’ horror-tinged script, Night Skies. Additionally, it shows how the look of E.T. evolved, and how Spielberg struggled to create an alien that wasn’t frightening, but endearing and expressive.
For those wanting to go deeper on that front, there’s even a feature titled The Evolution and Creation of E.T. that dives deep into the creation of E.T. — both as a puppet and a character in himself.
If all that wasn’t enough, there’s a cast and crew reunion, an interview with composer John Williams, and a look back at the 20th anniversary premiere party. The theatrical trailer is also available, as are some of the Olympic TV spots for those who want to really dive deep into their nostalgia.
While there’s more than enough for the film’s most dedicated fans, if one thing left a little to be desired were the lack of deleted scenes. Though it’s an extremely small complaint given the sheer depth of material available on the two-disc set.
For those who want to go beyond the experience, Snapchat will be releasing a commemorative E.T. lens, which will be available to users at 12:01 AM tonight.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial will be available for purchase staring Tuesday, September 12th.