December 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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DVD Film Review:
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial  
  With music by John WILLIAMS
  UNIVERSAL HOME VIDEO 905 216 9   [feature: 115 mins]

ET dvd

John Williams's score for E.T. has always been one of his most popular and in one of the bonus features 'The Music of John Williams' there is 'home video' material showing Williams and Spielberg collaborating over the development of the score. The most interesting facet, though, is Williams's commentary on the terracing of the orchestral perorations and climaxes in the final sequences as the boys, on their bicycles, elude their pursuers to the woods so that E.T. can be reunited with his kind and go home. Williams relates that after a number of thwarted attempts Spielberg decided to cut the film to the most heartfelt performance of the music to maximise the cumulative emotional effect of these scenes.

The bonus material is generous with much about the film's production. It is fascinating to see those kids twenty years on and now grown up. (Drew Barrymore the wee precocious girl famously saying of E.T. "I don't like his feet!", has of course gone on to considerable movie fame since).

For this Special Edition, Spielberg has rung a few changes. Some of the visual images have been enhanced by computer generated graphics making E.T. and his surroundings (especially in the opening scenes where we see the spacecraft in the woods) appear more realistic. And, in deference to post 9/11 fears, any feeling of threat is minimised by taking away E.T.s pursuers' guns and eliminating any mention of the word terrorists. This is, in a way, a pity, aside from any argument of over-cosseting, it seems to me to have affected the music for I seem to remember that the music for the opening scenes, where E.T. is being chased through the woods, was more urgent, more exciting. But these are minor quibbles when viewing the film for it has not lost any of its considerable enchantment.

I must take the packaging to task however, first there is no chapters-listing and I could not access an enigmatically labelled, "John Williams Live at the Shrine Auditorium 2002 premiere". And this problem persevered when I took my copy for a replacement back to the retailer. No folks we do not get free review DVD copies!

We reviewed the 20th Anniversary reissue album of John Williams E.T. score on Film Music on the Web in May this year.

Ian Lace


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