In case you’ve been living under a rock for a couple of decades, you’ve most likely seen the classic sci-fi/fantasy film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, one of the biggest money-making films of all time. I’ve probably seen the movie a dozen times, and yes, it makes me cry every time (when E.T. is lying in the river, all gray and sick, getting picked at by raccoons… well, I get choked up just thinking about it).
A sweet film about friendship, love, family, and most of all, home, E.T. for me is a nostalgic love-fest ode to the early 1980s, where at the time the kids on screen reflected the ages of me and my neighborhood friends. E.T. in a way was my generation’s Bambi, teaching us values and terrorizing us with a traumatic death scene at the same time (but with Speilberg’s touch: he makes us sob, then brings E.T. back to life—whew!).
The film affectionately takes place in generic suburbia, when kids were still allowed to go trick-or-treating alone, and there were woodsy areas to play in only a bike ride away. A little alien is left behind when his ship takes off without him. He wanders into a suburban backyard shed, where he is discovered by a a 10-year-old boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas). Elliott dubs the little guy “E.T.”, takes him in, and makes his siblings Michael and Gertie (Robert MacNaughton and Drew Barrymore) make a “most excellent promise” not to tell anyone about the alien.
But in the meantime (of course) the government is on the alien’s tracks, with their threatening high-beam flashlights, dark silhouettes, and jangling keys. All the while, poor E.T. just wants to phone home….
The 35th anniversary edition looks great: The original film has been fully restored to 4K (theater quality look and sound), and fans should be pleased to hear that all the extra bells and whistles (introduced at the 20th anniversary, i.e. the new CGI and souped-up scenes), have been stripped back out so the film is in its original form. The bad guys have guns again, and E.T. doesn’t “hop” through the woods to the weirdly pulsing spaceship. All is back to the original, which always looked better to start with.
Two deleted scenes are included. One has E.T. and Elliott playing in the bathroom—a scene that I felt didn’t add anything to the story, and was a bit distracting. The other new segment makes more sense: a transition scene of the kids’ mother (Dee Wallace) driving around in her station wagon on Halloween to find her tardy brood. She comes upon a hilarious riot of suburban-kid-chaos, with flaming pumpkins rolling down the street, toilet paper flying through the air, and an egg smashing on her windshield. Michael and Gertie look guilty when found, and Gertie gets yet another scene-stealing hilarious one-liner (I won’t spoil it here).
There are quite a few making-of extras as well as reunions and interviews with cast members through the years. The extras are great, but a little repetitive. There is nothing here newer than 2012, so if you have the 30th (or even the 20th) anniversary editions, you’ve seen most if not all of this.
Ultimately, the reasons you may want this edition is because it is back in its original form, you get a digital copy, and will look great on your bigger, better TV.