Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Destruction of a Masterpiece

Steven Spielberg has directed many of my personal favorite movies. He then saw it fit to completely wreck one of his best works. I cannot for the life of me understand why this was done. Would Da Vinci go over the Mona Lisa with a magic marker? Hell no. So why are directors doing the same thing?

E.T., released in 1982, was made without the help of computer graphics. Using puppetry and costumes, the character E.T. was brought to life. In a subtle manner, E.T. is introduced to the audience through vague glimpses of him evading government officials in the opening scene, sound effects of heavy breathing, a glowing heart, point-of-view camerawork, and mysterious other-worldy fingers grabbing Reese's Pieces. The audience does not get a clear look at E.T. until about 30 minutes into the movie. That is, until the 2002 release shows E.T. at the edge of the cliff after running away from the government, we get a detailed look at a CGI E.T. This happens less than 5 minutes into the movie. So much for the audiences intrigue in the appearance of E.T., thats squashed in a hurry in the 2002 release.

Another scene that originally added to the audience's curiosity is the one in which Elliot is stalking E.T. outside his home. Elliot hears heavy breathing in some tall reeds, and has a face to face encounter with E.T. In the 1982 version, It is hard to see the detail in E.T.'s face. The viewer can't quite piece together what E.T. looks like. However, the 2002 version further diminishes the audience's intrigue by giving a detailed look at a computerized E.T. There is too much detail in E.T.'s face in my opinion.

Spielberg then added a deleted scene the 2002 cut. The bathtub scene is utterly stupid. E.T. looks horribly computerized. It doesn't look natural. At least a costume or puppet consists of actual matter. A computer animated being placed into a live action scene looks so out of place. It is more artificial than a puppet. The excessive detail of computer animation doesn't allow the viewer to complete the scene using thier own imagination. E.T.'s facial expressions don't meet what I am used to seeing in the 1982 version. This again is an issue in the scene where Elliot's sister Gertie first encounters E.T. She barges in on Mike, E.T. and Elliot and a lot of screaming ensues. E.T.'s face becomes contorted in all sorts of odd ways. Stop with the video game graphics in my movies.

To avoid redundancy, I am going to conclude this post. A scene by scene analysis is uneccesary, as I will be rehashing the same point over and over. My advice is instead of buying E.T. on DVD, look for the 1982 VHS on eBay. It's the one with the green spindles and film cover, if you grew up in the 80's you know what I'm talking about.

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