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:: E.T.: The Extra Terrestial - 20th Anniversary Ed

It seems like only yesterday that audiences around the world were first introduced to E.T. the extra-terrestrial, and his adventure on Earth. Originally released in the early eighties, the film attained record box office attendance and was catapulted into ‘classic’ status as a moving tale about a young boy and his discovery of an alien man lost in suburban California. In its day, the film was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won three in the areas of Original Score, Visual Effects and Sound Effects Editing- nothing to sniff at considering the technological limitations of the time.

Now, however, advancements in visual effects technology have made it possible for Spielberg to enhance his award-winning masterpiece in each of these areas, restoring the dusty negatives above and beyond their former glory. Produced under Spielberg's constant supervision, the 20th Anniversary Edition of E.T the Extra Terrestrial contains never-seen-before footage, top-notch computer generated image enhancements and a digitally remastered soundtrack. Die-hard fans need not lose heart, however, as the changes to the original are subtle, with most alterations being slight revisions of scenes rather than palpable transformations of story and character.

Filmed back in the early 1980s, the character E.T was essentially a mechanical puppet created by a team of highly skilled designers, special effects artists and technicians. A fully collaborative process, the building of E.T represented the height of special physical effects for cinema at the time. Today, however, the possibilities of digital animation are endless and, without doubt, too tantalising for the likes of the meticulous Mr. Spielberg.

Enhancements in the 20th Anniversary Edition E.T include improvements to E.T's facial expressions, the addition of wind and moving clouds in the still forest scenes and a flapping cape in the trademark air borne bicycle scene. A couple of scenes that did not appear in the original film have also been restored and included in the Anniversary Edition. These include a bathroom scene with E.T and Elliot and a new Drew Barrymore moment during the Halloween scenes. Digitally scanned models of E.T's physicality were created and used to improve his running style in the opening sequence and other shots where E.T’s movement appears a little jerky have been smoothed out.

Perhaps the most interesting change, however, has been the removal of all the guns held by the police and government officials in the final chase scene. A moral judgement, Spielberg regretted ever having them in the film in the first place and happily had them changed, using computer generated imaging, into walkie-talkies - very apt considering the huge swing in social attitude relating to weapons since the 1980's. So, Spielberg yet again keeps everybody happy. Catering for anti-gun lobbyists, serious special effects tech-heads and of course die-hard fans the world over, E.T the Extra Terrestrial seems to be managing the new millennium just fine. It's just the bad 80s fashion that now needs improving.

Screening on general release