Steven Spielberg says he made a mistake when he altered a key scene in his 1982 classic film, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” to conform to more current societal norms.
The iconic director was interviewed Tuesday as part of a master class at the Time100 Summit, where he made the surprising remarks about editing the scene to show federal agents holding walkie-talkies instead of firearms while chasing after kids.
Spielberg said, “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.”
He went on to say that he made the change from firearms to walkie-talkies because he was trying to be sensitive to the fact that gun-wielding federal agents were confronting kids. But, as the years went by, Spielberg’s decision to tinker with the film for its 20th Anniversary special edition didn’t sit well with him.
“I should have never messed with the archives of my own work, and I don’t recommend anyone do that.” Spielberg said, adding, “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.”
‘E.T.’ tells the touching tale of a boy who becomes close friends with an Extra-Terrestrial who appears on Earth. But, the boy must help E.T. find his way home to a galaxy far away, never to see the gentile alien again.
After his E.T. comments, Spielberg also spoke out against censoring writer Roald Dahl‘s famous book, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” due to its offensive language by today’s standards.
At first, Spielberg jokingly said, “Nobody should ever attempt to take the chocolate out of Willy Wonka! Ever!” But then he became serious, stating, “For me, it is sacrosanct. It’s our history, it’s our cultural heritage. I do not believe in censorship in that way.”