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Throw Me The Idol, I'll Throw You The Whip: Why Spielberg > Lucas

By TK Burton | Industry | September 15, 2011 |

By TK Burton | Industry | September 15, 2011 |

Both are famous directors. Both are responsible for a trilogy of seminal films that are forever remembered and loved, though both trilogies have their missteps. Both of them attempted new sequels/prequels that were commercially successful, but that infuriated the diehard fans. Both have an amazing gift for visual wizardry, but mixed results when it comes to storytelling.

George Lucas gave us the Star Wars films, Steven Spielberg gave us the Indiana Jones films. And in a breath of fresh air (and with timing that makes the contrast between the two all the more glaring), Spielberg is releasing the Indiana Jones films on Blu Ray — completely as they were. He’s apparently even dumping the minor digital tweaks made for the 2003 DVD release, and had this to say at the recent L.A. screening of the digital Raiders Of The Lost Ark print:

“This is the best I think it’s ever looked, because in preparation for the eventual release on blu-ray we had to correct the print again and get the original negative out of the salt mines, and then we had to do the separations, and basically the files, which are just amazing, with all the technology of today, without changing any of the movie materially, we haven’t removed anything, we haven’t added CGI, there’s no digital enhancements! It’s purely the movie you some of you may remember from 1981.”

Bless you, Mr. Spielberg. He even has to the good sense to admit that his newer entry was a misstep. During the same Q & A, when asked about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a single audience member cheered, prompting this response:

“One person wants to see another Indiana Jones movie! The only person in the audience! […] You know, I think that was the only bridge we didn’t burn because of Indy 4, thank you.”

Of course, Spielberg’s career is far more expansive than Lucas’s, particularly when it comes to directing. And one of his other, older, beloved classics is E.T., the story of an adorable alien who befriends two children who try to help him find his way home.

Spielberg caused a bit of a row among fans when, for a re-release of the DVD a few years ago, he decided to digitally edit out the guns used by the government agents who were hunting the cute little bugger, and instead CGI in walkie-talkies. It was a silly capitulation to political correctness. Lucas, of course, has infuriated fans far more, by constantly meddling with his original trilogy to the point where, as much as I love the original trilogy (well… A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, if I’m being honest), I wouldn’t dream of buying the new Blu Ray release, because I simply can’t abide his incessant digital fuckery.

But Spielberg’s no dummy. He’s got the Blu Ray release of E.T. coming out soon, and he’s actually going to erase his digital alterations:

“For myself, I tried [changing a film] 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. […] If I put just one cut of E.T. on Blu-ray and it was the 1982, would anyone object to that? [The crowd yells “NO!” in unison.] OK, so be it.”

Halle-fuckin’-lujah. Look, the Indiana Jones trilogy is imperfect, I’ll concede. Raiders is one of my all-time favorite movies (I easily love it more than any Star Wars movie), Temple Of Doom is goofy as hell, but still fun, and Last Crusade is fun. Not great — possibly not even good — but fun. The less said about Crystal Skull, the better. But still, it’s nice to see Spielberg realizing that a film is what it is when you made it. If people loved it, why change it? It’s the product of its time and place, of the skills and talent you had when you created it. Let it stand for itself.

And Mr. Lucas? Take some fucking lessons.

(h/t to Slashfilm)

TK Burton is an Editorial Consultant. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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