ET The Extra-Terrestrial REVIEW
ET The Extra-Terrestrial BLU-RAY REVIEW
1982 | PG | 114 minutes | £24.99 (Blu-ray)/£29.99 (Steelbook Blu-ray)/£119.99 (Limited Edition spaceship pack)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote
Spielberg’s abandoned visitor is a mind-smacking 30 years old, halfway between Hollywood’s saucer-riding invaders of the ‘50s and today’s inscrutable Greys.
To celebrate, this Atari-age fable finally arrives on Blu-ray. It looks beautiful, from the starlit pines of the opening shot to the night-glistening streets of suburbia, twin symbols of Spielberg’s imaginative heartland. Happily, it undoes the nannyish tomfoolery that marred the 20th anniversary release – government agents once again hold guns, not digitally-imposed walkie-talkies (clearly they missed the bit where the kids arm themselves with kitchen knives… at least we were spared digital courgettes).
For all its unassailable craft and expert wrangling of a young cast, ET may be the moment Spielberg surrenders unconditionally to his inner kid. He abandons the bruised adult heroes that powered everything from Jaws to Raiders and, chasing a child’s wide-eyed POV, begins the path to bombastic schmaltz that would bring us Hook. In the end, assaulted by one too many syrup-bombs, you can’t help wishing there was a little more of Drew Barrymore’s scene-stealing sass: “Give me a break!”
“The ET Journals” (54 minutes) delivers a Making Of with never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage from 1981: it’s a fascinating piece of cinematic archaeology, showcasing a beardless Spielberg in a Raiders baseball cap who reveals why he wears sunglasses on set (we also see him directing in drag for Halloween, an image that may not leave your mind for days). What’s striking is just how good he is with his young cast, coaxing naturalistic performances without ever being patronising or peppery. There’s also a welcome new Spielberg interview (13 minutes), where he talks of ET being “My most personal movie” and reveals how he came up with the notion of a cosmic “foreign exchange student” while directing Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Memorably he also recalls US President Ronald Reagan reduced to “a 10 year old boy” by an early screening of the movie. Digital/UltraViolet copies are also bundled with this Blu-ray. Everything else is carried over from previous releases: deleted scenes (four minutes); two John Williams featurettes; “A Look Back” (another Making Of); “The ET Reunion”, in which Spielberg and stars reflect on the film; a featurette on the evolution and creation of ET; the trailer.