Steven Spielberg admits it’s difficult to remove guns from ET

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Director Steven Spielberg reflects on his regrets about removing guns from his 1982 film ET the extra Earth. The film follows a young boy named Elliott who lands outside, befriends him, and eventually enlists the help of family and friends to get ET back home. ET it was an immediate critical and commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time for some time after its theatrical run.

While he was speaking at the Masterclass at the 2023 Top of TIME100Spielberg discussed the changes he made ET for the 20th anniversary re-release in 2002. In the film, which Spielberg has described as close to perfect, police officers originally carried guns, but the director replaced them with walkie talkies. Spielberg admitted that he regretted the decision and said that films should not be censored based on contemporary lenses. Check out the full quote and video (the quote starts at 3:30) below:


[Removing the guns] it was a mistake. I should never have done that. ET is a product of its time. No film should be reviewed based on the lenses we are now, either voluntarily, or be forced to go through. ET was a movie that I was aware of the federal agents approaching several children with their guns open, and I thought I would change the guns into walkie-talkies. Years have passed and I have changed my own views. I should never have tampered with the archives of my own work, and I don’t recommend that anyone do. All of our movies are kind of a reflection of where we were when we made them, what the world was like, and what the world was getting when we got those stories out there. . So I’m really sorry to get that out there.

Was Spielberg supposed to change ET?

ET with a shiny top in ET the Extra-Terrestrial

Although Spielberg clearly thinks he shouldn’t have messed with the original ET film, the question remains whether it was right. George Lucas, who has often collaborated creatively with Spielberg, does not feel the same way, as he has taken full advantage of the evolving technology to change the original version. Star wars trilogy and changed a lot The Phantom Menace two years after his release.

The answer to the ET The question can be found in the last part of Spielberg’s quote at the master class in Hollywood, where the director talks about how a film is a snapshot in time that provides a narrative of the time that the film was made and who the filmmakers were when they made it. that particular movie. Therefore, there is no need to change a film to be more aligned with contemporary values ​​or to take advantage of emerging technology.

There are other ways to try to adhere to current values ​​while staying true to a film that was created in a different time and social setting. For example, instead of removing some very insensitive and controversial depictions of racial stereotypes from some of their older animated films, Disney+ has included a disclaimer for these films on their streaming platform so that viewers are aware of the content. For better or worse, movies from different eras like ET the Extraterrestrial are a representation of the time in which they were made, and that should be respected.

Source: TIME100 Collection

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