Steven Spielberg reveals he will never digitally enhance the special effects in his movies ever again. The icon is arguably one of the finest directors of all time. If you’re a Gen Xer, Spielberg may be responsible for defining many of the cinematic experiences of your early life and, if Oscar Wilde was right and life imitates art, he may be partially responsible for defining who you are. Spielberg wrote and/or directed dozens of classic films such as Jaws, the Indiana Jones films, The Goonies, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and, of course, E.T. He, along with his close friend and special effects pioneer George Lucas, was able to create some stunning visual effects with some less than stunning technology, but over time the VFX didn’t age as well as the stories.
The types of changes Spielberg and Lucas made were widely criticized and were even mocked in the “Empire Strikes Back” episode of South Park where each of the guns in E.T. were turned into walkie-talkies. While talking about his newest film, Ready Player One, Spielberg talked about the changes in VFX, his decision to make some changes the VFX in E.T. and the lesson he learned as a result and it’s bad news for those of you hoping for a rerelease of Jaws featuring a CG Great White.
Related: Ready Player One Early Reactions
Journalist: You’re such a perfectionist and special effects have changed so much in the last 30 years. Have you ever considered going back like they did with Star Wars? Maybe just putting in some shots in E.T.?
Steven Spielberg: Well, I got in trouble for doing that. When E.T. was re-released, I actually digitized 5 shots where E.T. went from being a puppet to a digital puppet and I also replaced the gun when the F.B.I. runs up on the van, now they walkie talkies. So there’s a really bad version of E.T. where I took my cue from Star Wars and all of the digital enhancements of A New Hope that George put in, and I went ahead, because the marketing at Universal thought we need something to get an audience back and see the movie so I did a few touch up in the film, and in those days, social media wasn’t as profound as it is today but what was just beginning, you know, erupted a loud, negative voice about how could you ruin our favorite childhood film by taking the guns away and putting walkie-talkies in their hands among other things. So I learned a big lesson and that’s the last time I decided to ever mess with the past. What’s done is done, and um, I’ll never go back and do another movie I’ve made and I have control over to enhance or changes.
At 71, it seems that Spielberg, who was the executive producer of the Back To The Future trilogy, has come to learn the same lesson as Marty McFly: nothing good comes from messing with the past.
- Ready Player One (2018) release date: Mar 29, 2018