Steven Spielberg Regrets Controversial ET The Extra-Terrestrial Change: A Lesson for Game Developers

Throughout his illustrious career, Steven Spielberg has had to make numerous decisions, and it’s inevitable that he’d have a few regrets. Now, the acclaimed director has finally opened up about one of those contentious choices: the 20th-anniversary re-release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Spielberg’s films have become timeless, with many fans still fondly remembering E.T.the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Even the soul-wrenching audition from Henry Thomas’ 1981 can bring tears to some viewers, but this film stirred up an unsatisfying feeling from its later releases. It’s no wonder, then, that Spielberg shared the same opinion.

It’s no secret that Steven Spielberg is one of the most celebrated directors in Hollywood. His contributions to the industry have been recognized with no less than nine Academy Award nominations for Best Director. Let’s take a look back at these accomplishments.

At the TIME’s 100 Summit, Spielberg commented on the controversial decision to swap out all the guns in the twentieth-anniversary release of E.T. with walkie-talkies. He immediately declared “That was a mistake” when asked about it. He further commented that the movie is a product of its time and should not be revised due to the current perspectives and pressures.

Steven Spielberg spoke of his biggest regret since Jaws, “the decimation of shark populations”. He then talked about E.T. and his realization that the federal agents had their firearms exposed when approaching the kids. He noted that he wished he had changed the guns to walkie-talkies and that one should never tamper with the archives of their own work. He concluded that all films are a reminder of the world when they were made and the state of the world when the stories were released. He lamented that this regret was out there.

It is understandable why his opinion is the way it is; few stories from the past can stay culturally relevant for many years. Changing sensibilities are usually seen as a good thing as it can create more accessible entertainment for a wider audience. That ’90s Show is great for its inclusion of better gay representation than its predecessor. However, it would not be appropriate for Netflix to modify That ’70s Show to become inclusive. This would not take into account the problematic elements of the original series and could be seen as an attempt to erase the experience of those who had issues with the show back in the day.

Nevertheless, there is an argument to be made in defense of not overlooking things which have not aged well. Watching E.T. with weapons pointed at the children can be traumatizing for someone who has experienced one of the numerous school shootings of the present day. Correspondingly, certain lesser-known and forgotten instalments of Looney Tunes have been managed adequately by not altering them, but instead inserting disclaimers that make clear how modifying the inappropriate and otherwise problematic components of them would be the same as feigning they never existed. Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it, and it appears Spielberg comprehends this entirely.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

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