E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Within the first few minutes of E.T., old-timers like me who remember seeing it on the big screen 30 years ago can’t help but recall why this movie was a bona fide cultural event, the likes of which we seldom see anymore. Oft copied, never equaled, it is an exquisitely crafted piece of cinema by a virtuoso at the top of his game. E.T. tells the tale of a lost, lonely visitor and his equally lonely host, an ordinary boy named Elliott. It celebrates the universal childhood fantasy of a secret best friend…and that other one about the flying bicycles. Rough around the edges though it may seem by today’s standards, this 1982 original version remains one of the most profoundly moving films most people will ever see.

The restored, high-definition debut of E.T. allows this masterpiece to shine through without compromise. Even the challenging glow of the little guy’s spaceship on a misty night shows remarkably little ringing, while the multitudinous shadows throughout reveal plenty of organic details. Colors, particularly at dusk, are superb. I noted the faintest kiss of film grain on the 1.85:1 image but no damage, no flaws worth mentioning. Allen Daviau’s cinematography is razor sharp, and one memorable simultaneous track-out/zoom-in shot takes on an almost 3D effect.

413et.box.jpgWhile not always big on flash, the new DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack is equally thrilling in its own way, with the big ship flyover serving as the first real “wow” moment. From there, we’re often treated to lovely delicacy in the many subdued moments, the faint jingle of Keys’ keys, nuances in E.T.’s and the adult male voices, with plenty of moody touches and moments woven into the Oscar-winning sound design. A bit of thunder is appropriately ominous, but the real star has to be John Williams’ impossibly beautiful musical score, reborn here with clarity and resonance and remixed to let some of the more tantalizing passages waft across the back of the home theater.

Williams features prominently in the extras, which are mostly ported from the old DVD. (A new DVD edition of E.T. is included here, along with a Digital Copy and UltraViolet.) There’s also a dash of fresh content with director Steven Spielberg plus a new presentation of on-set footage. Only two deleted scenes are included, and Harrison Ford’s cameo as Elliott’s principal is nowhere to be found. So right about now you might be glad you didn’t throw away that Laserdisc.

Studio: Universal, 1982
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Length: 115 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore

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