Thanks to George Lucas' recent decision to alter the Star Wars Blu-rays, people are still arguing across the internet about whether a director has the right to change his or her material after it's been released to the public. (We talked in-depth about that exact thing on the most recent GeekTyrant Weekly Podcast.) But Steven Spielberg doesn't subscribe to his best friend's method, and last night revealed that he has no plans to change anything about the upcoming Blu-ray releases of E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
At the L.A. Times Hero Complex 30th anniversary screening of Raiders, the director spoke about what he called "a hot topic" right now. After basically voicing the opinion that Lucas can do whatever he wants with his own films, Spielberg said*:
For myself, I tried this once and lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but because I was disappointed in myself. I got overly sensitive to [some of the reaction] to E.T., and I thought if technology evolved, [I might go in and change some things]...it was OK for a while, but I realized what I had done was I had robbed people who loved E.T. of their memories of E.T.
He then talked about how "the only contrition [he] could perform" was strong-arming Universal into putting the original version of the movie and his updated version on the DVD at the same cost as one normal disc. He did something similar with the Close Encounters of the Third Kind Blu-ray, except that includes three versions of the film. He polled the crowd on what he should do about the upcoming E.T. Blu-ray:
If I put just one cut of E.T. on Blu-ray and it was the 1982 [version], would anyone object to that? (The crowd yells "NO!" in unison.) OK, so be it.
This is the way to do it, folks: if you're going to tinker with a movie, at least make the original version - the one people fell in love with in the first place - available to the consumer! That's the main argument against the new Star Wars Blu-rays - Lucas refuses to release the original cuts along with his updated versions. Let's all be glad Spielberg doesn't share those same ideas and doesn't plan on changing a thing for either E.T. or Raiders.
I know this conversation may be a bit played out, but sound off in the comments section. What do you think: is it the responsibility of the filmmaker to include an original version of his or her work to the audience, or should we all just shut up and take what they give us?
*Apologies for the excessive brackets. I recorded this conversation with my phone since the L.A. Times were the only ones allowed to take video coverage of the event, and my sound is pretty horrible, so I didn't want to attribute quotes that I didn't have word for word. What I inserted into the brackets gets the point across, and as soon as Hero Complex puts up the video of the event, we'll post that so you can hear the conversation for yourself. This applies to all of my coverage of the event. Thanks for your understanding.