Phoning home again: 'E.T.' 30 years later
This undated publicity photo released by Universal Pictures shows the Blu-Ray 30th Anniversary Edition of director Steven Spielberg's "E.T.: The Extra- Terrestrial" available Oct. 9, 2012. In honor of the 30th anniversary of “E.T.,” a digitally remastered feature film returns to theaters Oct. 3. (AP Photo/Universal Pictures)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — How old is too old to sob like a little girl at "E.T. — the Extra-Terrestrial"? Not 40, apparently.
The Steven Spielberg film that would become a 1980s pop-culture phenomenon is coming out on Blu-Ray for the first time Tuesday — 30 years, four Academy Awards and nearly $800 million after its theatrical release. To commemorate this, theaters across the country recently showed a digitally re-mastered version of the film for one night only.
Being a total geek for "E.T.," I jumped at the chance to see it again in a theater. And yes, I dug up my old red hoodie and bought some Reese's Pieces for the occasion.
Having worked as a film critic for a while now — and with a child of my own — I wanted to find out whether the movie would still have the same emotional impact on me as it did when I was a kid. I wondered whether I looked back fondly at it as a piece of nostalgia, or if the film itself truly was as original, well-made and heart-tugging as I remembered.
Thinking about the movies I watched repeatedly growing up — "The Wizard of Oz," ''The Karate Kid," ''The Breakfast Club" — it's always "E.T." that stirs something deeply within me. I recall experiencing an aching sense of longing when 10-year-old Elliott (Henry Thomas) says goodbye to the best friend he'd ever had — this impish, inquisitive alien from far away — knowing he'd never see him again. I wanted to see whether I'd feel that again — and I was far from alone. My theater was packed with viewers of every type. Some came in groups while others sneaked in alone in the dark; still others brought their own children to share this movie they loved.
This undated publicity film image released by Universal Pictures shows Henry Thomas as Elliott and E.T. in a scene from director Steven Spielberg's "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial." In honor of the 30th anniversary of “E.T.,” a digitally remastered feature film returns to theaters Oct. 3, 2012, along with a Blu-ray Anniversary Edition available Oct. 9. (AP Photo/Universal Pictures)
Once the film began, I realized pretty quickly that it wasn't a question of whether I'd cry, but rather how many times. The answer is four:
— When the spaceship takes off and E.T.'s heart light goes out at the sad realization that he's been left behind on this strange planet. Alone. In the San Fernando Valley.
— The first time E.T. makes Elliott's bicycle fly across the sky, with John Williams' iconic score soaring in the background; people in my audience erupted into spontaneous applause.
— When E.T. is dying. We all know E.T. doesn't die, but it reduces me to a puddle every time.