Spielberg Makes Sure Fans Know He Is NOT George Lucas

Say what you want about Steven Speilberg, but he is fast becoming a firm and vocal voice against the re-writing of film history. So much so that he has not shied away from some very vocal jabs against old pal George Lucas who has recently come under fire once again for his incessant altering of his Star Wars franchise to the point that there is a fan campaign to boycott the upcoming Blu-ray release of these films.

At a recent screening of a new digital restoration of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK at Los Angeles’ Hero Complex, Spielberg commented on filmmakers who alter their films, thus erasing their historical context:

“Speaking for myself, I tried this once and I learned to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but simply because I was a little disappointed in myself. I got very kind of overly sensitive to some of the criticism E.T. had gotten from parent groups when it was first released in ’82. Having to do with Elliot saying penis breath or the guns with the CIA. And also there were some rough around the edges close-ups of E.T. that I had always thought if technology ever evolves to the point where I can do some facial enhancements with E.T. I would like to. So I did an E.T. pass for the third release of the movie and it was okay for a while then I realized that what I had done was I had robbed people who loved E.T. of their memories of E.T. My only contrition that I could possibly do because I feel bad about that, the only contrition that I really performed was when E.T. came out on DVD for the first time. I told Universal, we’re going to do this or we’re not going to put E.T. on DVD. You have to put two movies in the box and one movie will be the 1982 version and the other will be the digitally enhanced version. What I’d like to ask is this. We’ll do a little poll here. I know we’re coming out with the Blu-ray of E.T. If I came out with just one E.T. on Blu-ray, the 1982 one, would anybody object to that? [Audience shouts ‘No!’] Ok, so be it.”

But friends and colleagues must be careful of just how “critical” they are of their pals. Spielberg also added:

“Let me put it this way, George does what he does because there’s only one George Lucas, and thank god for that. He’s the greatest person I’ve ever worked with as a filmmaker collaborator and he’s a conceptual genius. He puts together these amazing stories and he’s great at what he does. My feeling is that he can do anything he wants with his movies because they’re his movies and we wouldn’t have been raised with Star Wars or Indiana Jones had it not been for George.”

But luckily, Spielberg’s point has been made and it is a most welcome response to Lucas’ continued alterations and his open disdain for the people who are fighting for the very things he himself once stood before Congress and campaigned so vigorously for (see my post HERE). Let’s hope more filmmakers take the same stand Spielberg has. Which, in supporting the importance of film and its history, automatically sheds a light on just how selfish and misguided George Lucas has become. Perhaps one day, Lucas himself will come to understand and respect the wishes of those of us who care about preserving film and cultural history and remember that there was a time when he was one of us. Let’s hope that Mr. Spielberg is, in perfect Dickens fashion, the first of many ghosts to haunt Mr. Lucas.

Spielberg Makes Sure Fans Know He Is NOT George Lucas

Robby, The Robot, And FORBIDDEN PLANET Come Alive At The Academy

Ben Burtt, Robby, Craig Barron

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences held an evening devoted to the making of the 1956 sci-fi masterpiece FORBIDDEN PLANET. The evening began with an in-depth exploration of the matte paintings and special visual effects used in this landmark film and the people responsible for that work (several of whom were present and interviewed as part of the evening’s program). Then the focus turned to the sound and music design used in the film.

The evening was hosted by two film veterans. Covering the visual effects was Craig Barron, a veteran of Industrial Light and Magic and now head of his own company, Matte World Digital. Barron recently won an Academy Award for his work on THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and has worked on such groundbreaking films as RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL, ZODIAC, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and the upcoming CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on BATMAN RETURNS.

Our other host this night was sound designer, editor and mixer Ben Burtt. Burtt received Special Achievement Awards for the creation of alien, creature and robot voices featured in the original STAR WARS, as well as his sound effects editing on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Burtt won Oscars for his work on E.T: THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL and INDIAN JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. Burtt has more recently worked on such films as WALL-E, STAR TREK and SUPER 8.

This was an incredibly fun and informative evening. It was, in many ways, a revelation. This was followed by a digital screening of FORBIDDEN PLANET, which I have to say looked absolutely amazing. I was concerned about seeing a digital presentation versus an actual film print, but the image looked amazingly film-like with grain intact, rich, deep blacks, and a natural clarity that defied its projected source.

And then, the surprise moment of the evening, Robby, The Robot, made one of his first public appearances in nearly 50 years. Yes, this was the actual Robby, not a recreation. Fully functional and in quite good spirits. I shot some footage of Robby’s “interview” below. Enjoy.

Thanks to the Academy for putting together such an incredible evening. All with a price tag of a mere $5. Saturday nights don’t get much better than this for film lovers.

Robby, The Robot, And FORBIDDEN PLANET Come Alive At The Academy