Steven Spielberg has criticised the idea that older films should be re-edited to appease modern sensibilities.

Speaking at Time’s 100 Summit in New York City, the 76-year-old film-maker expressed regret over taking out guns from a later release of his 1982 sci-fi blockbuster ET: The Extra Terrestrial. In the 20th anniversary edition, agents saw their firearms replaced with walkie-talkies.

“That was a mistake,” he said on stage. “I never should have done that. ET is a product of its era. No film should be revised based on the lenses we now are, either voluntarily, or being forced to peer through.”

In 2011, Spielberg had already explained that the guns would be returning for the 30th anniversary release, explaining that he was “disappointed” in himself.

This week he added: “I should have never messed with the archives of my own work, and I don’t recommend anyone do that. All our movies are a kind of a signpost of where we were when we made them, what the world was like and what the world was receiving when we got those stories out there. So I really regret having that out there.”

Spielberg was also asked about the controversial re-editing of Roald Dahl’s work which has included changing words like “fat” to “enormous” and “ugly and beastly” to just “beastly”.

Initially he joked that “Nobody should ever attempt to take the chocolate out of Willy Wonka! Ever!” before adding “For me, it is sacrosanct. It’s our history, it’s our cultural heritage. I do not believe in censorship in that way.”

Other authors whose work has recently been tweaked for modern readers include Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming.

Spielberg’s most recent film, autobiographical drama The Fabelmans, received seven Oscar nominations. The director’s next project is yet to be confirmed but he has been attached to a drama based around the lead character from 1968 drama Bullitt with Bradley Cooper set to star.

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