Not only was cast and Drew reunited for the march 16, 2002 E.T. 20th Anniversary edition premiere, but John Williams conducted the Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles playing the entire score. The accompanying DVD features an audio track of this performance, so this is a nice impression of what that night was like. We witness some of the preparations, get a short interview with The Maestro himself while the eternally optimistic Spielberg hangs around acting more childlike than those in the actual film. Then it's time for the red carpet spot-the-celebrity game (everyone you do not recognize worked on E.T.).
Peter Coyote goes on stage to introduced the evening as 'a high wire act' but forgets to jingle his keys. Of the actual show see just enough: some bits of a new overture accompanied by 'Fantasia' inspired back projection and Scene-selections inter cut with shots of the orchestra. When it starts to get too boring, they throw in a rather unimaginative four way split screen. After the show, Spielberg comes out in his E.T. cap to introduces selected members of the crew, but not Matthew De Meritt, the boy without legs who was actually inside the Extra Terrestrial (little people Pat and Tam had already passed away).
The score itself is still emotional enough to make your teeth hurt. Note that there is no great emphasis on the most iconic shot in the picture: the flight across the moon. How times have changed. The final fifteen minutes are arguably the cap per to Williams' most fruitful composing period (1975-1982). Elsewhere in the Special Features they explain how Spielberg uniquely reedited the film to the music instead the other way around. This stuff is so overwhelming it almost makes you forget the first half of the score is really low key and personal. No wonder Johnny needed to take a break after this.
And then they completely ruined it in the Anniversary edition by digitally deleting one shot of a shotgun. The live performance manages to fog the issue, but in the new cut of the film the deletion is clearly audible. All this because they had to replace the weapons with walkie talkies. Back in '82 we never had any problem with bad guys pointing guns at little boys. That's what they do! Even in Disney films. I remember that when the shotgun came out, my little ten year old mind was convinced there was no place left for E.T. and pals to go (having in my excitement forgotten that he levitated the bike earlier on). So in effect, they destroyed the most memorable part for me with this adjustment. At least the original version is still included in the package (but only the most expensive version of course).
7 out of 10
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