E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review

E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial

When there’s a lot of grunting in the bushes in front of a 10-year-old boy, it’s not Jimmy Savile, but E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial.

This is quite definitely one of the most well-known films ever made and still a classic even thirty years on. It also brought the attention of seven-year-old Drew Barrymore to the fore, who’s easily gone on to have the biggest career of the whole cast, presuming you don’t count Harrison Ford who shot scenes as the School Principal, which were later cut out of the final version.

I saw it, aged 9, on New Year’s Day 1983. All was quiet on new year’s day, except for some people blubbing in the audience as E.T. was forced to return to his homeland after the snooty government stepped in after a young boy named Elliott found him hiding in his summer house and allowed him to seek refuge in the family home.

Soon after E.T. originally lands, the family are sceptical about the door to the summer house being left open, the footprints in the dust leading Michael to conclude “The coyote’s back again, Mum”, but Elliott has other ideas and after going outside with a torch and hearing grunting in the bushes like a demented Sidney Cooke, he strikes upon a more pleasant revelation and consults the family over dinner while they discuss their Halloween plans.


Look, E.T.! We’ve finally got the 1982 version back!

What follows in E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial is a really fantastic film as Elliott happens across a once-in-a-lifetime friend and they begin to learn a great deal about each other and where they each come from.

This 30th Anniversary Special Edition, out on Blu-ray for the first time, marks a sea-change from the 20th Anniversary, which included two new scenes, including one where E.T. takes a bath, plus altered special FX, most noticeable in E.T.’s spaceship and his facial expressions. Alas, in an attempt to be politically-correct, Spielberg had stupidly replaced all the guns with walkie-talkies. Bad idea.

It had also been speculated that Spielberg had removed the line about looking like a “terrorist” when in Halloween fancy dress.

In 2002, the 3-disc edition of the Region 2 release, and also the standard Region 1 DVD, also contained the original 1982 version. Now we’re in 2012, the version we’re presented with here is the 1982 original.

Note: E.T. carries a U-certificate, but the extra, Evolution and Creation of E.T., which has a PG-cert, means the entire boxset carries the higher certificate.


Be good…

E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial is presented in its original 1.85:1 theatrical ratio and, now remastered for Blu-ray, it looks crystal clear as you’ve never seen it before on any home format. For example, with such wonderful use of back lighting in Elliot’s room, as E.T. tries to remain a secret, the way the light reflects off E.T.’s bonce is quite something. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma screen with a Samsung BDP1500 player.

The sound comes in DTS 7.1 HD Master Audio and, listening in DTS 5.1, dialogue is clear as a bell, spot-effects are well-realised and when the DTS sound kicks in early on as E.T.’s spaceship takes off, it will rock your room more than an earthquake.


Mmm… hug.

The extras, a lot of which previously featured on the 20th Anniversary DVD (marked ‘*’), are as follows:

  • Deleted Scenes (3:40): Two here: The ones that were put in the 2002 edition, and thankfully excised here. One where E.T. jumps in the bath, and an additional Halloween scene when Mary’s trying to find the children after they don’t come back home in time.

  • Steven Spielberg and E.T. (12:13): A new segment where the director talks about what led him to creating the movie.

  • The E.T. Journals (53:38): A two-part documentary composed exclusively of original behind-the-scenes footage shot during the movie’s production in 1981, and it follows the order of scenes as they appear in the film.

    We see scenes being set up, with captions telling us which crew members we’re looking at, and there’s occasional interview footage thrown in. It concludes with showing John Williams as he prepares to score the movie.

    Sadly, someone at Universal doesn’t understand chaptering, and since it’s a two-part piece… we only get two chapters(!)

  • A Look Back (37:43): A 4:3 segment with 16:9 letterbox footage within (a shame the latter couldn’t be re-framed although that would involve completely remastering this extra, but zooming in to fill the screen loses nothing vital from the 4:3 interview clips.

    This is a condensed and revised version of the 1996 piece, The Making of ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’ – released on NTSC Laserdisc, this time featuring more behind-the-scenes material which didn’t appear in the 1996 release.

    There are no chapters to this piece, either, nor any others. This really is quite a ridiculous state of affairs, Universal. You spent a lot of money remastering the film. Spending a fiver on throwing in some chapter points wouldn’t have hurt!

  • The Evolution and Creation of E.T.* (50:16): Once again, this piece blends chat from the cast and crew with film clips, and it also includes the screen test for Henry Thomas you might have seen on TV at the time of the updated film’s cinema release. There’s also a look at the enhanced E.T.

  • The E.T. Reunion* (17:56): Another 4:3 piece, here showing everyone getting together and discuss how they feel 20 years on.

  • The Music of E.T.: A Discussion with John Williams* (10:04): This shows footage from the film score’s original recording as well as chat from Williams.

  • The 20th Anniversary Premiere* (17:49): Previously titled, John Williams Live at the Shrine Auditorium 2002 Premiere, this is just an alternate soundtrack to the film, not that you’d be able to tell the difference.

  • Designs Photographs and Marketing*: This shows off the designs of E.T, the spaceship, production photographs and how the film was marketed. Erm… the finger-light (below) looks like a massive dildo! (this is chapter 35/63, if you want to find it easily! However, there are actually 62 pictures as, like everything else on this disc, the final chapter is a mere ‘skip to the end’ one)

  • Theatrical Trailer* (1:50): Again, in 16:9 letterbox like a lot of things here. I’m sure Universal could’ve pushed the boat out for this one!

  • Special Olympics TV Spot (1:02): E.T. encourages a disabled child to do his best. Yes, this is the 1984 equivalent of the Paralympics.

  • Ultraviolet and Digital Copy: The former ‘in the cloud’ and the latter for phones and tablets, this is so you can watch the film wherever you are, but… I’ve never yet anyone who actually uses these! I can only imagine they’re cheap to create and add because there’s a proliferation of them on Blu-rays and DVDs these days.

So, sadly, there’s not a great deal here that wasn’t on the last release. Given that the deleted scenes were those which weren’t required in the first place, there’s only really just over an hour of additional content that we haven’t seen before, and no audio commentaries.

The main menu features a backdrop of the backyard in which E.T. initially appears, and is nice to leave in the background, but why do Universal insist on, after a few minutes, making it default to their big logo? Just leave it as it is! Same when I pause it and, normally, my Samsung Blu-ray player floats about the screen. I’m usually trying to sleep, so please give us a break. It’s WAY too bright! And, if you’ve paused a film, it cancels the subtitles when you return(!)

There are subtitles in English for hearing impaired, French, Dutch, Chinese, Korean, Arabic and Ukranian, with spoken dialogue in English, French and Dutch, all having multi-channel options. There are 20 chapters to the film, although it could use a few more.

E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial is out now on Blu-ray and Blu-ray Limited Edition Spaceship with Digibook.


E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial goes rude…


Detailed specs:

Running time: 115 minutes
Year: 2012
Cat no: 8290938
Released: October 22nd 2012
Chapters: 20
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 7.1 HD Master Audio, French DTS-HR 7.1, Dutch DTS Surround 5.1, English & French DTS Surround 2.0
Languages: English, Brazillian Portuguese, Latin American Spanish
Subtitles: English for hearing impaired, French, Cantonese, Dutch, Korean, Arabic, Traditional Mandarin & Ukranian.
Widescreen: 1.85:1
Disc Format: BD50

Director: Steven Spielberg
Producers: Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Melissa Mathison
Music: John Williams

Elliott: Henry Thomas
Gertie: Drew Barrymore
Michael: Robert MacNaughton
Mary: Dee Wallace
Keys: Peter Coyote
Tyler: C. Thomas Howell
Pretty girl: Erika Eleniak
E.T. voice: Pat Welsh (uncredited)