‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Ultimate Visual History’: The Conskipper Review

Insight Editions E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’s Ultimate Visual History arrives right on time for the lovable alien’s 40th birthday, and in the case of this exhaustive chronicling of the production, reception, and E.T. mania that gripped the country in the summer of 1982, the title is no hyperbole. Anyone in the future that attempts to further detail the E.T. phenomenon would be hard pressed to improve on Insight’s Ultimate Visual History.

Author Caseen Gaines (who has made a career out of documenting some of the most cherished memories for any child of the 1980s in We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future TrilogyA Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic, and Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse) is up to the challenge in this tribute to the making and legacy of Steven Spielberg’s film and the results will satisfy even the most knowledgeable fan.

Starting with Spielberg’s initial inspiration for the story (which included a much more frightening one than made it to the screen), progressing to the complex production process both behind and in front of the camera, and ending with the unpredictable and lucrative success and legacy of the singular film, all bases are covered by Gaines.

In addition to Gaines’ complete dive into all aspects of the film, the amount of photos, archival footage, storyboards, concept art and designs are truly exhaustive. The title is “the visual history”, but the treasure trove included in the book is still surprising in terms of the scope of the project.

Being an Insight Editions release, along with the contents of the guide, there are also a number of removable insert items, such as replicas of annotated script pages, studio communiques, sketches, tickets, badges, etc., all loosely attached to various pages in the book. The mementos are a nice bonus, but I would suggest removing them and placing them in a secure folder for an unencumbered reading experience.

Other highlights include an examination of associated E.T. merchandise from the era, a section on the beloved Universal Studios Florida theme park attraction, and a forward penned by Drew Barrymore and an introduction by Kathleen Kennedy.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Ultimate Visual History is a delectable nostalgia feast for any fan of the original film.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Ultimate Visual History is currently available at finer book stores everywhere or can be purchased directly from Insight Editions.

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