Steven Spielberg Regrets Censoring ‘ET’: ‘No Film Should Be Revised’ for Modern Ideals
Steven Spielberg says he now regrets a controversial change he made to one of his most beloved films. The iconic director says his infamous decision to digitally switch guns to walkie talkies in the 20th anniversary edition of 1982’s ET: The Extra Terrestrial was a mistake.
The The director was speaking at Time’s 100 Summit in New York City when he said: “That was a mistake. I never should have done that. ET is a product of its era. No film should be revised based on the lenses we now are, either voluntarily, or being forced to peer through.”
Spielberg added he was “disappointed” in himself. “I should have never messed with the archives of my own work, and I don’t recommend anyone do that,” he said. “All our movies are a kind of a signpost of where we were when we made them, what the world was like and what the world was receiving when we got those stories out there. So I really regret having that out there.” The decision to replace government agent guns with radios was widely mocked at the time, including on South Park.
Spielberg’s comments come at a time when classic literature, such as the works of Roald Dahl, is being controversially edited to update terms and descriptions that modern readers might find offensive — such as removing words like “fat” and “ugly.”
“Nobody should ever attempt to take the chocolate out of Willy Wonka!” Spielberg joked, and then added: “For me, it is sacrosanct. It’s our history; it’s our cultural heritage. I do not believe in censorship in that way.”
The comments align Spielberg with another of his famous peers, director Martin Scorsese, who has explained why he would never even do a “director’s cut” of one of his films.
“No, no, no, no, no!” Scorsese told Entertainment Weekly in 2019. “The director’s cut is the film that’s released — unless it’s been taken away from the director by the financiers and the studio. [The director] has made their decisions based on the process they were going through at the time. There could be money issues, there could be somebody that dies [while making] the picture, the studio changes heads and the next person hates it. Sometimes [a director says], ‘I wish I could go back and put it all back together.’ All these things happen … But I do think once the die is cast, you have to go with it and say, ‘That’s the movie I made under those circumstances.’”
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