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Rambaldi’s magic made E.T. irresistible

Fest Traveler: Palo Alto Intl. Film Festival 2012

In summer 1982, just about every movie fan spent a couple of hours in a theater enchanted by the sweet luminous eyes of a creature designed by Carlo Rambaldi.

The special effects and makeup wizard, who died in August, built the puppet moviegoers came to know as “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.” But on set, in the light of day, not everyone embraced the little alien.

“I wasn’t on the set that often but the few times I was there, Carlo was absolutely wonderful but E.T. didn’t look real to me,” says Dennis Muren, the movie’s visual-effects supervisor. “But I knew Carlo was a great craftsman because of his reputation.”

Still, sitting on the set, E.T. looked like any other lifeless puppet.

“The genius of it was that when I saw the footage later on in post he looked completely alive,” Muren says. “Carlo and Steven (Spielberg) found ways for him to move that made it completely convincing and that’s what sold it.”

The Motion Picture Academy’s Science and Technology Council will present a 30th anniversary screening and panel discussion of Spielberg’s “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Palo Alto Film Festival.

Fest Traveler: Palo Alto Intl. Film Festival
Tech zest-blessed fest | Disney’s ‘Paperman’ pioneers hybrid look | Fest voting gets 21st-century upgrade | Rambaldi’s magic made E.T. irresistible

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