Universal Studios issued a press release Wednesday announcing that “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” one of the most beloved blockbusters of all time, will be released on Blu-ray this October, roughly one year after another beloved series of blockbusters, “Star Wars: The Complete Saga,” made its Blu-ray debut.
But unlike his friend and frequent collaborator, "Star Wars” architect George Lucas, “E.T.” director Steven Spielberg is doing this the right way.
As the press release states and as Slate’s Forrest Wickman smartly confirmed, Spielberg and his DVD team have remastered the original, 1982 theatrical version for this Blu-ray release, not the 2002 reissue featuring Spielberg’s semi-controversial updates. This approach differs from Lucas’s, who issued the ‘90s-era special editions of the original Skywalker v. Vader trilogy for his Blu-ray “Star Wars” set, then further frustrated the Wookie faithful by modifying those already altered films.
So what does this “E.T.” news mean?
It means that in the Blu-ray “E.T.,” the beloved, beer-drinking extra-terrestrial will still look like a crude Muppet, as nature intended, instead of a crude Muppet with the capacity to make CGI expressions with his face.
It means that Elliott’s mother will still tell Michael that his Halloween costume makes him look like a terrorist. (In the 2002 version, that term was changed to hippie, out of concern that little kids shouldn’t be exposed to the word terrorist. Ten years later, sadly, most of them hear it the second they emerge from the womb.)
It means that the guns the government agents hold in the climactic bicycle scene will remain in the picture instead of being digitally removed, allowing it to appear — as I interpret the moment — that E.T.and Elliott are literally rising above the capacity for violence.
It means that, unlike Lucas, Spielberg hasn’t added any new “Nooooos” to the Blu-ray version of his masterpiece. (Can you imagine Gertie, upon hearing of E.T.’s death, dropping to her knees and screaming “Nooooo”? I kind of can, actually, and it’s a terrible idea, which is why I’m really glad Spielberg didn’t do that.)
And it means that in the Blu-ray “E.T.,” Han shoots first.
All right, fine. The Han/Greedo scene is purely a “Star Wars” thing. But I’m pretty sure that if you asked 1982 E.T., “Who shot first, Han or Greedo?,” he would say “Han.” And then, “Be good.” And then, “Phone home.”
Basically, the sweet little alien would probably just repeat the first thing he hears, but that would not change the fact that he is correct and that even a misplaced being from another planet knows the right answer to this question because it is empirical fact.
Anyway, for the record, this isn't the first time Spielberg has done right by “E.T.” When the movie was issued on regular old, non-fancy-pants DVD in 2002, in conjunction with its 20th anniversary, he made sure that both the 2002 edition and the ‘82 original were included. There’s a lesson in this for that other guy (pssst, George Lucas) who was responsible for molding the imaginations of all us children of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Maybe he’s listening?
I mean, it’s okay to have a new hope, right?