Steven Spielberg details his shifting thoughts on E.T. tinkering

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The legendary director Steven Spielberg uncorks his thoughts on self-censorship and art and they’re definitely worth a read.

It probably won’t come as news to you that Steven Spielberg isn’t particularly enamoured with the digital tinkering he applied to the 20th anniversary release of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial back in 2001. The veteran helmer has alluded to it before and we’ve previously covered the evolution of his thoughts on the matter here.

It’s a topic that clearly continues to evolve in Spielberg’s thoughts. In the past he’s spoken about the changes as a sort of personal failure from which he has since learned. However, when questioned about it recently, he spoke about the process on a broader cultural level, stating “that was a mistake. I never should have done that. E.T. 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.”

His thoughts emerge at a time when censorship is a hot topic across the arts, with the news that beloved works by famous authors such as Roald Dahl are being re-edited to ‘mordernise’ them. Spielberg alluded to that example, saying, “nobody should ever attempt to take the chocolate out of Willy Wonka! For me, it is sacrosanct. It’s our history; it’s our cultural heritage. I do not believe in censorship in that way.”

It’s obviously a tricky topic to have such a unilateral opinion on, but we doubt Spielberg is on his own regarding this point of view. To his mind, films are a product of their time and preserving them as they were is a way of preserving history. Or to use his more eloquent phrasing: “I should have never messed with the archives of my own work, and I don’t recommend anyone do that. 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.”

What do you think? Is there a case for modernising films though censorship or should we do more to try and understand the context in which they were produced? Let us know your thoughts below. And be warned: if anyone’s thinking of tinkering with Con Air, they’ll have to get through us first…

The Hollywood Reporter

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