[ENTERTAINMENT]In new century, E.T. back on the phoneTime flies - but not on a bicycle silhouetted before the full moon. It has already been 20 years since "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), the science fiction adventure that put Steven Spielberg on top of the movie industry, hit screens worldwide. The last scene in which Elliot (Henry Thomas) puts the stranded alien on his bike and takes off into the night sky holds a special place in the heart of every kid who's seen it. Now the film of an improbable friendship between a child and an alien will be rereleased at local theaters April 5 to mark the 20th year of its release.
When it hit screens back in 1982, the family-oriented movie was a huge box office hit. It went on to take four Oscars, but was bested for best picture by "Gandhi." Now Spielberg, with his longtime partner for special effects, Industrial Light and Magic, have dusted off the old classic. Some of the scenes have been improved with computer graphics technology, and the sound track has been rerecorded. He has also restored two scenes that were cut from the original version.
Hollywood's portrayal of aliens can be divided into two eras: pre-E.T. and post-E.T. Before the adorable little creature came along, aliens were invariably horrid monsters with dark designs to annihilate the human race, or at least raise people for food. But E.T. was entirely different.
What Spielberg tried to say throughout the film was that life is all about love. It's not a coincidence that the alien comes to earth and winds up living with a broken family of three children and a single mother.
Spielberg, in fact, asked distributors to run free preview screenings in countries where it will be rereleased - he said that he wanted to emphasize the importance of love and friendship.
One of the scenes inserted for the new version has E.T. and Elliot taking a bath together. Spielberg never shot the scene in the original because E.T. was made partly of clay, which tended to dissolve in water. The problem was solved with computer animation. The other new scene involves Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and Michael (Robert MacNaughton) searching for E.T. after the alien vanishes at a Halloween party.
One thing about the film that haunted Spielberg for a good while afterward was that the FBI agents who come to the house were armed with guns. Spielberg has manipulated the shot for the new version, and now the authorities carry walkie-talkies instead.
Another change was triggered by last year's terrorist attacks. In a scene where Michael is dressing up for Halloween, his mother (Dee Wallace-Stone) says, "Don't dress up like a terrorist." The line has been changed to "Don't dress up like a hippie."
The most notable improvement on the original is the enhanced performance of E.T. - thanks to computer graphics. The facial expressions have been softened and rendered much more natural. Now E.T. looks even more real when he says, "E.T. phone home."
And in the famous bicycle shot, Elliot's clothes were just shadows; but in the new version you can see his colorful clothes clearly blowing in the wind. Though some movie purists are opposed to these types of changes, in this case it seems to fulfill E.T.'s promise: "I'll be right here with you."
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