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Steven Spielberg Can Admit When He’s Screwed Up

It’s hard to believe but Steven Spielberg’s film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial will turn 30 next year.  While at a screening for the 30th anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark the topic of ET was raised.  Next year ET will be released in high-definition on Blu-ray in a move that lines up nicely with that film’s 30th anniversary.

Folks might remember that during E.T.’s 20th anniversary release scenes within the movie were digitally altered.  An example is that in the original cut of the movie government agents were seen brandishing handguns.  In the latest release of the movie these weapons were digitally altered to be seen as walkie talkies.  An example of this changed scene can be seen below.

Digitally Inserted Walkie Talkies in E.T.

South Park famously skewered E.T. and Spielberg for the digital alterations that were done for what fan’s perceived to be as no good reason in E.T.  Don’t worry George Lucas got it worse in that episode though.

Lately fans have been upset over changes to classic movies that are sometimes viewed as unnecessary of superfluous.   Spielberg took a hit for the changes to E.T. but it was his friend George Lucas that has been lambasted the most for his changes to the Star Wars movies.  But unlike George Lucas, Steven Spielberg seems to realize that changing a film after its initial release is not a good idea.  At the screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark Spielberg spoke about how he regretted changing a film, in this case E.T.:

“For myself, I tried [changing a film] once and lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but because I was disappointed in myself. I got overly sensitive to [some of the reaction] to E.T., and I thought if technology evolved, [I might go in and change some things]…it was OK for a while, but I realized what I had done was I had robbed people who loved E.T. of their memories of E.T. […] If I put just one cut of E.T. on Blu-ray and it was the 1982, would anyone object to that? [The crowd yells “NO!” in unison.] OK, so be it.”

I’ll give credit where credit is due Spielberg has realized that the changes made to E.T. ten years ago were unnecessary and that the fan outrage while extreme may have been justified.  That’s why I was excited to hear that in the 30th anniversary release of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial the digitally inserted walkie-talkies will be removed and the film returned to its original state just in high-definition.

George Lucas could really learn something from Steven Spielberg in this situation.  I would love to see the original versions of the Original Trilogy of Star Wars released in a high-definition format.  Do I think it will ever happen?  No, I really don’t, mostly because George Lucas likes to say that all the changes he makes to the movies are to make Star Wars be more in line with what he originally envisioned it to be.  I really hope that George Lucas sees the quote from Steven Spielberg that is shown above.  Maybe that will help him to understand why so many fans are opposed to the changes that are made to the Star Wars movies.

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