A cut above the rest: Steven Spielberg to release original edit of E.T.

Director reverses changes he made for 20th anniversary DVD

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The Independent Culture

Perhaps the original version of a classic movie is the best cut after all? Steven Spielberg has acknowledged the error of his ways after reversing a series of additions and alterations which he controversially inserted into E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

Digital advances have allowed directors to tinker extensively with films which appeared to be perfectly satisfactory to their fans. George Lucas has been another offender, using CGI technology to make substantial changes to his Star Wars films.

In the 20th anniversary DVD release of E.T., Spielberg's much-loved 1982 story of a boy who befriends a lost alien, he introduced a number of poorly received changes. During one key scene in which Elliott and his friends take off into the sky on bikes, Spielberg replaced the guns carried by the government agents chasing them, with walkie-talkies. Some argued that Spielberg had sanitised his film.

Dialogue was altered too – Elliot's mother says he looked like a "terrorist" in his Halloween costume but this was downgraded to "hippie" in the version, released shortly after 9/11.

Spielberg also used CGI technology, unavailable at the time, to enhance shots of the alien running and hiding in a cornfield. The insertions were not universally well-received by fans who preferred the charm of the original.

Spielberg has now agreed that the changes will be reversed for the Blu-ray version, released in October, to mark its 30th anniversary.

Spielberg has fulfilled a promise he made last year, when he said: "There's going to be no more digital enhancements or digital additions to anything based on any film I direct... When people ask me which E.T. they should look at, I always tell them to look at the original 1982 E.T."

No such pledge has been received from Lucas, who has made almost 100 changes to the original Star Wars film alone, on a variety of cinema and DVD re-releases.

As well as correcting errors, Lucas has altered the look and sound of his light-sabres and added dialogue.

Although it is the director's vision which has driven these updated versions, many fans suspect it is a marketing ploy to encourage them to buy new box sets of films they already own.

The E.T. Blu-ray comes with the insertions made in the 2002 DVD, now advertised as "deleted scenes".