While director Steven Spielberg has sometimes termed his blockbuster hit E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
a loose sequel to his similarly themed Close Encounters of the Third Kind
, that notion only underscores the breadth of John Williams's talents as a composer and tempts the listener to consider this score a sort of second, more nakedly emotional movement to his CE3K
music. As in his epic Star Wars
work, the musical touchstone is early-20th-century Russian romanticism, a link that becomes even clearer with the restoration of three fragile, largely atmospheric cues ("Main Titles," "Meeting E.T.," and "E.T.'s New Home"). While Williams has often suffered odd accusations of emotional manipulation--which is, after all, precisely the job of a film composer--his E.T.
music is still some of his most compelling, recalling Herrmann's delicate, pastoral touch on The Magnificent Ambersons
in its first half, then steadily ratcheting up the tension as the score's insistent brass motif intrudes ever more ominously. Two decades later, the 15-minute sweep of "Escape/Chase/Saying Goodbye" remains one of Williams's most powerful and memorable film-music achievements. This edition also features an illustrated booklet with a new interview with the composer. --Jerry McCulley