E.T. is a pagan shaman. He nurtures plants. He heals. He flies. He makes psychic connections. He self-resurrects. Or maybe the flying makes him a witch. Or maybe the healing makes him a magic troll. Or maybe the psychic connection makes him a postmodern fairy. Or maybe the self-resurrection makes him a trans-human prophet. A new internet theory even suggests that he’s a Jedi. If Jedi’s can drop out of society to be intergalactic hippies, then I can support that argument. But whatever he is, he’s what Elliot needs to keep from developing an adult personality disorder. My guess is that Elliot would be a narcissist, always wondering how something will affect his life and not others. “We can grow up together,” he tells E.T., not thinking about E.T.’s home sickness.
Elliot can’t handle the absence of his father. His brother tries to be the man of the house, but he’s a child also. Elliot has a loving mother, but she’s clueless. She doesn’t see Elliot putting back the lamp that helps him fake his sickness. She doesn’t notice E.T. (pretending to be her daughter) fall backwards after a Polaroid is taken. She doesn’t see E.T. standing in her living room when her daughter is trying to point him out. Parents can only do so much. A child needs an outlet.
To Elliot, E.T is a good book. A movie. A TV show. A baseball game. A comic book collection. A best friend; anything that creates a buffer for a child and shelters it from unnecessary pain. E.T. is about how we must protect our children from realities that they’re not equipped to handle. E.T. is about how we have to listen to our children and do everything we can for them. E.T. is about the miracle of salvation; the miracle of finding something that gives us the release we all need in life.
In the end, Elliot tells the government doctors, “He needs to go home.” Elliot realizes that he must let go of what he loves in order for it to live and be happy. This is what he needed to do for his father. Isn’t that what friendship really is? The ability to say something to someone that you really need to say to someone else.