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"E.T. is the classic tale about a space monkey from Mars."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is an Academy Award-winning 1982 science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg that tells the story of a young boy, Elliott, who befriends an alien being called E.T. stranded on Earth and trying to find his way home. This film was produced by Amblin Entertainment, distributed by Universal Pictures. It was originally released to movie theatres in 1982, re-released in 1985, and then "enhanced" and re-released as a 20th anniversary edition in 2002. The movie was written by Melissa Mathison. The design of the E.T. character was created by artists Drew Struzan and Carlo Rambaldi, a favorite of director Steven Spielberg, while the advance and release movie posters were created by John Alvin.

An extended version of the movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The 20th Anniversary, was released theatrically by Universal Studios on March 22, 2002 in the United States and later that year also on DVD (along with the original version). The new edition adds five minutes to the film's run time, and includes special effects scenes that were not included in the original because of technical limitations or budgetary constraints.

Examples of these changes include a couple of full body shots of E.T.: one in which he is seen running after his departing spaceship (which is flashier and sparkles more in the new version) and later taking a bath (this scene was shot for the original movie, but did not work out because the E.T. puppet turned out not to be waterproof). In addition, E.T's facial expressions have been digitally enhanced in almost all his scenes, making them more fluid. A previously deleted scene is included that features Gertie unwittingly telling Mary where Elliot was: "Anyway, why would Elliot go the forest? Why would he do such a thing?"

Other changes had a different genesis. In the scene near the movie's end where the kids are fleeing on their bicycles, all the police officers' guns have been digitally removed and replaced with walkie-talkies, because Spielberg now finds himself uncomfortable with scenes of policemen preparing to use guns around children. A second prominent change is the replacing of the word "terrorist" with the word "hippie" in one scene where Mary forbids Michael to dress up as a terrorist for Halloween; the wording change was reported to have been made to fit with a "post-9/11 environment", although it had been edited out of earlier television airings as well.


The film was nominated for nine Oscars at the Academy Awards, and won for 4 of them: Best Original Music Score, Sound, Sound Effects Editing and Visual Effects. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Writing - Screenplay written directly for the screen, Cinematography and Film Editing. Composer John Williams received three Grammy Awards for the soundtrack: Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture Or Television Special; Best Arrangement on an Instrumental Recording; and Best Instrumental Composition. In addition, the Quincy Jones -produced spoken word recording with Michael Jackson also won a Grammy, for Best Recording for Children.

E.T. was designed by Carlo Rambaldi, while his voice was performed by several people, including Debra Winger (for the rough cut), Pat Welsch, a chain-smoking housewife from Marin County, who was overheard in a bank line by the film's sound effects editor and got the part for the final version of the film, and even director Steven Spielberg himself. Though, Debra Winger's voice was not used for ET in the finished film, she has a brief walk-on cameo as a trick-or-treater. Harrison Ford had a part as The Principal of Elliott's school; the scene was later cut from the film. At the time of the film's release, Ford was married to screenwriter Melissa Mathison.

Originally the script called for the use of M&M's (which survived into the novelization). However, Mars did not agree to the contract (because they thought E.T. was ugly and would scare children) and instead Reese's Pieces by Hershey's were used. A week after the movie premiered, sales of the candy tripled.

When E.T. is covered with a sheet and goes "trick-or-treating" with the children, he sees a child in a Star Wars character's mask (Yoda) and begins to follow that child saying "Home....home....". Also, composer John Williams includes a snippet of his "Yoda Theme" from The Empire Strikes Back to accompany this scene. The scene in which E.T. recognises Star Wars philosopher Yoda at Halloween was a surprise to George Lucas, who was kept in the dark about the guest appearance until a special screening of the flick was held at Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic. "I remember George was sitting right next to me during the screening, and when Yoda came on, George gave me a little nudge, which I guess was his way of saying that was cool," says Spielberg. In turn, E.T can be seen in the crowd watching the Boonta Eve Podrace scene in Star Wars Episode 1 and can also be seen in the Galactic Senate scene , which features more from his kind in one of the multiple platforms in proximity to the Wookiee delegates representing Kashyyyk .

According to rumour, following a screening of the movie at the White House, President Ronald Reagan leaned over, clapped Spielberg on the shoulder, and quietly commented, "You know, there aren’t six people in this room who know how true this really is."


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