In a spectacular interview he gave during a 30th anniversary screening of his film 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', director Steven Spielberg took the stage to address a series of questions and comment on the hot topic of digitally altering classic films. Spielberg, who previously released an altered version of 'E.T: The Extra Terrestrial' (in which he enhanced the puppet's face digitally, rerecorded dialogue, and replaced weapons with walkie-talkies in an effort to make the film more family-friendly), expressed his regret and was asked point blank how he felt about his friend and colleague George Lucas going back and continually altering the 'Star Wars' hexology.
The director eloquently replied:
"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... 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."
The sentiment was greeted with massive applause by the audience, and Spielberg continued:
"The digital tools available to all of us are simply that, tools, and we either make a movie that celebrates digital era or we throw away story for a bunch of crazy wonderful special effects that keep us entertained but don't give us anything to remember beyond the fact that we spent two hours watching all of these special effects, or we could continue to write good stories, original stories, real strong narratives where the digital components are simply going to if not enhance the experience, create another way to have an experience... It's when everything is just a special effect that we start to lose our way."
To read the entire interview - including a surprise visit from Harrison Ford himself, talk of another Indiana Jones film, and more humorous and inspiring words from a directorial icon like Spielberg - you can read it in it's entirety HERE.