Back in 2002, when E.T. arrived on DVD and allowed us to weep in an all-new digital format, director Steven Spielberg saw the new release as an opportunity to fix a few things that had always bothered him--things like fixing close-ups of E.T.'s face, and, most controversially, replacing some guns with walkie talkies, thus communicating to younger viewers that they should talk out their problems with little alien guys instead of shooting little alien guys with guns. Universal included both the new, walkie-talkied up version and the original 1982 cut in the DVD set they sold, so it wasn't really as big a deal as, say, adding increasingly insane screaming to some of the most universally-beloved films in history, but still, Spielberg would like you to know that the phantoms of lost shotguns still haunt him. Earlier this year, Spielberg said he wouldn't be altering any more of his old films, no matter their flaws, and now, at a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the director has sent some more remorseful words at his changes, and even commented on "best friend" George Lucas's bored tinkering, saying:
[George Lucas's Star Wars alteration is] a little hot topic, isn't it? (laughter) Let me put it this way. George does what he does cause there is only one George Lucas and thank god for that. He's the greatest person I've ever worked with as a filmmaker and collaborator, he is a conceptual genius, he puts together these amazing stories and he is great at what he does. And my feeling is he can do whatever he wants with his movies because those are his movies. We wouldn't have been raised with Star Wars or Indiana Jones had it not been for George, so what he does with his films is great. Speaking for myself, you know, I tried this once and I lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but simply because I was disappointed in myself. I was overly sensitive to some of the criticism ET got from parent groups when it was first released in '82 having to do with Eliot saying "Penis Breath" or the guns...and then there were certain brilliant, but rough around the edges close ups of ET that I always felt, if technology ever evolves to the point where I can do some facial enhancement for ET, I'd like to. So I did an ET pass for like the third release of the movie and it was okay for a while, but then I realized that what I had done was I had robbed the people who loved ET of their memories of ET. And I regretted that. (massive applause) And the only contrition that I could possibly do because I felt bad about that was, the only contrition that I really performed was when ET came out on DVD for the first time, I asked Universal, I didn't ask Universal, I said you're gonna do this, when you release this on DVD you have to come out for the same price of one DVD, you have to put two movies in the box and one movie will be the 1982 version and the other will be the digitally enhanced version. I'd like to ask you this, let's do a little poll here, cause I know we're coming out with the blu-ray of ET, if I just came out with one ET on blu-ray, 1982, would anyone object to that? (loud NO from the audience). Okay then, so be it. (huge applause)
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