E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Advent of the Absent Father

liletalone.jpg  by Gershon Reiter From Fathers and Sons in Cinema © 2008 Gershon Reiter by permission of McFarland & Company, Inc., Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640. www. Excerpt from “Fathers and Sons in Cinema,” by Gershon Reiter, coming out this June.  The book addresses the father-son relationship in American cinema by re-examining ancient dragon-slaying myths, showing how they apply to movies, or to what the book calls filmmyths, that deal with fathers and sons.

I really always thought E.T. was a story about divorce.  And it was sort of my story about my parents who got divorced when I was a teenager. . .and the effect it had on me.  And I really felt that picture was about looking for a surrogate father, looking for someone to fill the void of the missing parent.

                                                    Steven Spielberg, “AFI’s 100 Years. . .100 Movies,” television series

A Tale of Two Stories:

Perhaps more than any other contemporary filmmaker, Steven Spielberg is a direct descendant of such cinematic storytellers as Ford, Hawks and Hitchcock.  He uses the American landscape much as Hawks and Ford used the mythic West, and like Hitchcock, he knows how to build and sustain suspense. “Hitchcock was probably my best teacher,”[1] Spielberg has acknowledged.  That he learned his craft well was demonstrated by the enormous success of such movies such as Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  But it was not until his seventh film, the 1982 E.T., that Spielberg came into his own as a cinematic storyteller.  

I think the responsibility of an artist is to just get to know themselves really well, and to put as much of yourself in your work.  And not pretend to be somebody else.  Don’t try to be somebody you admire.  I did that for a lot in the early part of my career.  I wanted to be John Ford.  I wanted to be Alfred Hitchcock.  I wanted to be everybody but me.  It took me a whole number of films before I was comfortable with allowing myself to be seen through my films.[2]

No doubt E.T.’s unprecedented success is partly due to Spielberg (finally) telling his own story—about his “missing father.”  Through Elliot’s parting from E. T., which is a re-enactment of his father’s abandonment, Spielberg re-enacts his own parting from his father. “I really have always thought E.T. was about the divorce of my mom and dad.  Ever since my parents’ divorce (I think I was 16 or 17 years old) I had a lot of stories in my mind about how to tell it, and I had this story kicking around about a boy who finds an imaginary friend (in this case would be an extraterrestrial friend), and that was going to fill his many, many needs for the missing father.”[3] 

Spielberg’s earlier movies had touched the subject of the absent father, particularly Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but it was never such a personal and heart-felt story as E. T.   In his first movie about a boy, Spielberg shows what he felt as a boy without a father, sharing with us an intimate and crucial time in his life. With E. T., whose hiding place is the walk-in closet, Spielberg came out of his emotional closet.  It is not for nothing that the “game master” with “absolute power” (in the Dungeons and Dragons game) is named Steve, and that, with the advent of E.T., that power is transferred to Elliot.  “I made my most personal film in 1982 with E.T.  And to this day I think it remains my most personal film. . .All the kids in the movie are combinations of myself and my own family growing up.”[4]

Together with Spielberg telling his story, E.T. is also a mirrored Wizard of Oz:  three humans helping the extra-terrestrial return home.  It’s a retelling of Dorothy’s adventure in the Land of Oz. Outer space replaces Kansas and the California suburb the Land of Oz.  And just as Dorothy’s adventure in Oz is her dream, and thus unconscious, the movie repeatedly suggests that E. T. is a projection of Elliot’s unconscious. 

Although separated by more than forty years, The Wizard of Oz and E. T. have in common the fact that they are two of the most popular films of all time. . . Probably the explanation for the success of these films lies with the fact that they dramatize some unconscious fantasies that children feel to be primordial; these films speak to the deepest part of themselves.[5]

The fact that the extra-terrestrial is a kind of creature many children dream about and wish for is another suggestion that E. T. is a product of Elliot’s unconscious, a dream come true.  Like his first words, “Be good,” E.T. is all good. There is not an ounce of meanness or cynicism in him. He is innocent, though not without a healthy sense of humor.  He is a mixture of such cinematic figures as Peter Pan, Mary Poppins and Shane—archetypal figures from another world (the unconscious) that change the life of the children they encounter.  In earlier movies, such as Lassie Come Home (which sounds much like “E. T. phone home”) and Ol’ Yeller, this figure was often portrayed by a friendly dog.  And as if hailing back to those movies, Elliot also has a dog, whose name is presumably borrowed from the movie Harvey, where the hero (James Stewart) sees and talks to a six-foot-tall white rabbit he calls Harvey that no one else can see.   But the extra-terrestrial easily outdoes both Harveys.  He is everything a boy could wish for. 

Surprising as it may seem, considering his kinship with children, this friendship between a boy and a benevolent creature is a first for Spielberg.  In two of his first three features, Duel (’71) and Jaws (’75), America’s “premier filmmaker” dealt with the dark and malevolent (unconscious) forces, forces commonly depicted in myths and fairytales as dragons.  While in Duel it came in the shape of a monstrous, revenge-seeking truck, driven by a faceless and anonymous driver, in Jaws, Spielberg’s first blockbuster, it was embodied by a gruesome shark.  In fact, Spielberg sees Jaws as another Duel, as “something which is a truck, only the truck is a Leviathan under water.”[6] 

After dealing with the dark and malevolent forces that came from behind and below, Spielberg counterbalanced it with two “light” (versus dark) movies about benevolent creatures from above, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (’77) and E. T.  In both movies the benevolent creatures come from outer space, but E.T. is much more about inner space and inner feelings, represented by the extra-terrestrial’s red heart-light.  Through his emotional relationship and painful parting from E.T., who is all feelings, Elliot deals with his feelings of abandonment before they become a menacing dragon, like the dragons represented by the hostile aliens of many science fiction films of the fifties that the young Spielberg saw while growing up.  In the process of telling both Elliot’s and his own story, Spielberg, who “uses film rather like a psychiatrist tackling a phobia—not just for his patients, the audience, but for himself,”[7] deals with the dragon in the unconscious dungeon we all share.  In the best tradition of Hawks, Ford and Hitchcock, his brilliant storytelling and subtle depiction of the unconscious “speaks to the deepest part of” ourselves.  

A Dream Come True

Conveyed with only pictures and sounds, E.T.’s exposition sets the mood of the movie by its “fantasized, perfect, oceanic bliss of reunion with the preverbal mother, a reunion where there are no words or thoughts, but purely empathic, intuitive communication.”[8]  This harmonious ambiance, this “oceanic bliss,” comes to an abrupt end with the arrival of shadowy figures, much as Elliot’s feeling of home comes to a sudden end when he is abandoned by his father. 

E.T.’s opening shot shows a starry night sky, the place from which the spaceship comes to earth.  With a variation on E. T.’s musical theme on the soundtrack, the camera tilts downwards, as if making a soft landing in a forest, a familiar symbol of the unconscious.  The downward shot stops when the screen is equally divided between sky and earth, the two worlds of E.T. and Elliot.  This image, like much of the exposition, suggests a connection between the two.  Another connection is suggested in the following shot of the spaceship, where in the upper left side of the frame are the lights of Elliot’s suburb.  Though we do not know it, our first glimpse of E.T. is the shadowy pair of thin elongated fingers reaching for a branch in the foreground (an image repeated several times in the course of the movie), which serves as another reminder of the movie’s twin motif.   We next see the extra-terrestrial walking towards “twin” monolithic trees, an image suggesting the symbiotic relationship between E.T. and Elliot, especially as they are also shown twice.  As the extra-terrestrial comes up to the starry landscape of the lighted suburbia down below, in two shots/reverse shots, we see (for the first time) his point of view, looking at the lighted homes below, as if drawn to Elliot.  The second shot of his looking in Elliot’s direction is abruptly disturbed by the appearance of a lone car with sets of twin headlights, disrupting the idyllic night, with more cars arriving right behind.  Among shots of the men’s lower parts, the camera follows a jangling set of keys hanging from one figure’s belt. As the repeated shots of the keys suggest, this man is the key to the movie. The cars’ fuming exhaust pipes and the muddy puddles signal the “poisoning” of the innocent, the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, both E.T.’s and Elliot’s

After showing the mother ship’s entrance, where a lone extra-terrestrial stands, as if waiting for the tardy E.T., much as Elliot’s mother waits for him in Halloween, the camera cuts to E. T. hiding in the bushes, radiating an inner red light and emitting a sound of fear that gives him away. On the verge of being discovered by the shadowy figures’ searchlights, a complete contrast to the extra-terrestrials’ inner light, E. T. rushes towards the mothership, which takes off without him.   Left behind, he is shown following the mothership fly away in the night sky, the same sky that the dark figures are beaming their flashlights at.  He is last seen walking towards another source of lights—Elliot’s suburb.  The exposition’s closing shot of the well-lighted suburb below repeats its opening shot of the starry night sky up above, making one last connection between E.T. and Elliot. 

Being that the father’s abandonment is mostly left to our imagination, E.T.’s abandonment “imagines” what Elliot must have experienced, particularly as his introduction parallels the exposition. As Elliot’s mirror image, E. T. reflects what he must have felt.  Both are left behind—E.T. by his mother ship, Elliot by his father.  Much as the dark, flashlight-wielding figures disrupt the idyllic scene of extra-terrestrials visit, causing E.T. to be left behind, the father’s leaving with his girlfriend disrupts Elliot’s family. 

The Advent of E. T.:

Just as the suburb lights in the exposition double for the starry night sky that opened the movie, the opening shot of Elliot’s home doubles for E. T.’s mother ship.  Likewise, where the exposition’s second shot showed the lamp-like spaceship, now the second shot, inside the house, shows a flowery bell-like lamp above the family dining room table around which four boys are playing Dungeons and Dragons.  Elliot, in the center of the frame, is left out of the game as E. T. was left behind by his own people.  The sequence’s first audible sentence, “You got an arrow right in your chest,” part of the Dungeons and Dragons game, may very well describe what E. T. must have felt, especially considering his glowing chest.  It may also allude to what happened to Elliot, who has been wounded by his father’s abandonment. 

Dungeons and Dragons, a popular fantasy game in the 80s’, is one way to deal with their introjected fathers, embodied in the unconscious dungeon by the dragon.  This is reinforced by one boy phoning the local radio station, requesting the song “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow,” which is repeated several times, as if to emphasize its significance.  Taken together, Elliot’s “I’m ready to play” intimates that he is ready to deal with his introjected papa, the dragon that came alive with his father’s leaving.

Before he is allowed to join the game, Elliot is sent outside by Steve, the game master, to wait for the ordered pizza, another sign of his separateness.  As if for protection, he takes along a baseball and a glove (which, as we learn later, he associates with his father), the same baseball through which he initiates his connection with E. T.  While a dog is heard barking outside, from inside the house “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow” is heard coming from the radio, the words anticipating the papa’s “coming around” and showing his face.  The fact that it is heard while Elliot hears E.T.’s noise, coming from the tool shed, a place commonly associated with the father, alludes to the coming around of both E.T. and the father, the “papa” who shows his covered face only after entering Elliot’s house in his search for the extra-terrestrial.    

Elliot’s thinking the noise comes from his dog Harvey is another suggestion that E.T. is for Elliot what the white rabbit named Harvey was for Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) in the movie by the same name.  Both uncanny friends are more imagined than real–Harvey by “fact,” E.T. by suggestion.  Elliot tosses his baseball into the tool shed, only to have it tossed right back, a sign that there is some form of intelligence inside, and a playful one at that. Bearing in mind that his father is no longer around to take him to ball games, or play ping-pong (on the table shown on the back porch), a game for two players, Elliot’s connection with E. T. takes up where the father left off.  Because of the appearance of E.T., Elliot never gets to play D & D.  But with his advent he gets his wish to play, and much more.  More than a playmate, he gets a soul mate.  He gets to play E & E, a real live fantasy, his own way of dealing with the dragon in his unconscious dungeon.

Running parallel to the absent father, the mother’s absence is of a different kind.  She is present, but hardly as a mother.  “How do you win this game, anyway?” she asks, as if, like Elliot, she wants to join the game as one of the boys.  She is provocative in her red kimono and not very successful at keeping order.  She fails to keep the boys from going outside to see what Elliot claims is out there.  She can’t even get them to put away the kitchen knives.  The only sign of authority is her holding the flashlight, her scepter, the same tool used by the male agents in the exposition.  As this brief scene shows, the mother could use a man around the house.  Once she realizes that there are strange footprints in their yard, however, she shoos the boys like a hen with her chicks, anticipating her “coming around” to her motherhood in the course of the movie. 

After a privileged view of what is in the tool shed, of E.T.’s two fingers wrapping around the shed’s door, the camera cuts to a picture of Harvey, the dog that Elliot thought was making the noise.  The juxtaposition of the two is another suggestion that E. T. replaces Elliot’s best friend, much as Keys replaces his father.  This pair motif is underscored by the picture of Harvey and the clock (that reads two) sharing the frame and by the bunk bed that Harvey and Elliot share, not to mention their sensing that something is out there.  As it soon becomes apparent, E. T. can sense Elliot too.  That is why he comes around in the first place—he feels what Elliot feels:  abandoned.  The two’s twin-ness is highlighted when, in their first encounter, they are equally frightened.  Even though we mostly see the response of Elliot, with whom we have come to identify by now (after first identifying with E. T.), the rapid crosscutting emphasizes the mutual response, thus neutralizing the two’s fear of one another. Significantly, Elliot drops the flashlight, the instrument that previously searched for E. T. in a most threatening manner. The sequence’s closing shot shows Elliot looking up at the night sky with a slight smile, as if thanking a benevolent being (the Father) for making his wish for a friend come true.

That for Elliot E.T. fills the space left empty by the father is suggested during the first family sequence at the dining room table.  The four family members are around the triangular table, with Elliot in the middle, sitting, as it were, at the base of the isosceles triangle.  The rest of the family sits on the lateral sides.  Apparently the father’s place, now empty, was next to Gertie, opposite Michael (who is sitting next to his mother and shares the frame with her in the first part of the sequence, as if now he’s the acting father).

From the talk around the table, it is clear that no one believes Elliot’s story about the extra terrestrial.  “All we’re trying to say is, maybe you just probably imagined it,” his mother intimates that E.T. is Elliot’s “imaginary friend.”  “Dad would believe me,” Elliot reminds her of the change their family has undergone, of her husband’s abandonment, and that she cannot fill his empty place.  The fact that the first time the father is mentioned is tied with E. T. underscores the connection between his absence and the advent of the extra-terrestrial.  Elliot’s reply to the mother’s “Why don’t you call him,” “I can’t.  He’s in Mexico with Sally,” seems to express both his pain of abandonment and his anger at his mother who could not hold on to her husband.  It upsets her enough so that she leaves the table, emphasizing her unavailability to her children.  Like a father, Michael upbraids Elliot, “Dammit, why don’t you grow up, think how other people feel for a change,” which is exactly what Elliot does from the moment he meets E. T.  He both feels what another being feels and grows up by reliving the pain of his father’s abandonment.  This is intimated by the last shot of the sequence, which shows Elliot rinsing his dishes under hot water at the sink.  Shot from outside, where E. T. is (and also the father), Elliot wistfully looks skywards through the hot water’s steam, as if he feels E. T.’s presence or thinks of his father’s absence.  From what is shown so far, it is probably both.

This look heavenward is continued in the opening shot of the next scene when Elliot, having fallen asleep on a patio chair, aims the beam of his flashlight upwards, as if signaling the creature he saw the night before.  Hearing sounds from the tool shed, he wakes up to see E. T., the camera slowly closing in on his face to show his reaction.   Now that he meets the creature that he sought, it’s much more frightening than he thought. As E.T. slowly approaches him, the terrified Elliot tries to call out to his mother and Michael.  Much like their initial meeting, when Elliot first tossed a baseball and E. T. tossed it right back, the extra-terrestrial reaches with his two elongated fingers to return some of the Reese’s Pieces that Elliot left in the forest.  Now, in their third meeting, after a sign of good will from the extra-terrestrial, the two finally meet face to face and do not flee from one another.  Despite E.T.’s initial “unattractiveness,” it is clear that he is a friendly and benevolent creature.  With the extra-terrestrial in his room, and assured that he is gentle and friendly, Elliot can finally fall asleep after two sleepless nights in which he waited for his return; just as he surely waits for his father’s return.

That Elliot is waiting for the father is suggested by the brief scene sandwiched between his first night with E.T. and the next day, which singles out the man with the keys among the faceless men searching for E. T. at the spot where he was last seen before heading towards Elliot’s home.  The man’s finding the Reese’s Pieces left by Elliot implies that, however unconsciously, he left it for him just as much as for E.T.  Particularly as the advent of E.T. initiates the advent of Keys, and the closer Elliot and E. T. become, the closer Keys comes to finding them.  And to remind us that the movie is about Elliot’s psychological growth, the candy also serves as a transition to the first of the three stages of psychological development that make up the next part of the movie.  Only after outgrowing these three stages does he abandon the wish to keep E. T. for himself and starts helping him return home. 

Growing Up Together:

Oral Stage:  The opening shot of the morning after E.T.’s arrival, showing Elliot with a thermometer in his mouth, and all the talk of food, introduces what may be called the “oral stage,” the first psychosexual stage where the mouth is the principal erogenous zone.  As the organ by which the baby intakes food, it “expresses the drive toward taking into oneself, absorbing, contracting, grasping (in the sense of understanding)—as well as grabbing into one’s possession.”[9]  This is underscored by Elliot showing E. T., among other foodstuff, a Coke can (“Coke.  You see, we drink it.  It’s a, it’s a drink.  You know, food.”) and the fish in his small aquarium  “And look.  Fish.  The fish eats the fish food, and the shark eats the fish, but nobody eats the shark.” Of course, the shark recalls another, much hungrier creature, Jaws, who is mostly mouth.  A clear reference to oral greed is Greedo, the first of the small toy figures that Elliot introduces to E.T.  But the clincher is Elliot’s rather long explanation to E.T. about his world. “See, this is Pez candy.  See, you eat it. . . You want some?  This is a peanut (a piggy bank shaped as a giant peanut).  You eat it, but you can’t eat this one, ‘cause this is fake.”  When E.T. starts eating the plastic toy car that Elliot explains “is what we get around in,” he asks, “Are you hungry?  I’m hungry.”

This mutual hunger is the first sign of the two’s symbiotic relationship. Elliot’s parting words to get some food, “I’ll be right here,” anticipate E. T.’s parting words prior to his return home.  The two in one motif is further highlighted by the first crosscutting between the two—Elliot downstairs getting food from the refrigerator, E. T. upstairs playing with Elliot’s earthly objects. The two are startled simultaneously when E. T. unexpectedly opens the easy-open umbrella.  His dropping the umbrella rhymes with Elliot’s dropping the milk carton, clutching his chest.  The shot of the spilled carton of milk reinforces the two’s first significant communication through food, and (mother’s) milk at that.  When Elliot returns to his room with two plates of food, he finds E.T. in the closet, hiding behind stuffed animals, trembling in fear.   “Wanna Coke?”  he tries to calm E.T. down as a mother would a baby.

At this stage of their relationship Elliot plays the mother to the new arrival, who depends on him for his survival.  Providing E.T. with his needs builds the trust that characterizes the oral stage and their developing relationship.  But where a child passes through the three stages during his early years, with his extraordinary intelligence and powers, E. T. passes through them in a couple of days, until he starts to talk.  And by virtue of their symbiotic relationship, E. T.’s growing also has a direct effect on Elliot’s growing up.  As Elliot puts it, they “grow up together.”

Anal Stage:  Michael singing (twice) about “So many people. . . .you can add to your collection,” and his  opening the refrigerator door with “nothing but health shit,” starts what can be described as the anal stage, the second stage characterized by the child’s pleasure in passing and withholding his feces, which “represents self-assertion, assertion of existence, power, possession, control over mother, objects and people as well as over oneself.”[10]   Through E.T. Elliot not only obtains absolute power, his room becomes the center of the three siblings’ universe.  As fits the retentive anal stage, he wants to “keep him.”

The series of closing shots of the three siblings looking at E. T. conveys the new agreement that characterizes their relationship.  Especially the closing shot of all four sharing the frame—the same four represented by the mandala that is visible behind the three siblings.  They are united in their secret of E. T.  The final image of the nuclear family is the five putty balls that E.T. brings to revolve in the air like a solar system, with E. T. having replaced the absent father as the nucleus. 

As Elliot and E. T. grow closer, so do the government men get closer to their whereabouts.  Their penetrating threat is suggested by the camera closing in on a window where E. T. is shown leafing through an elementary ABCs picture book.  Comparing the flowers in the book, as they should be, with the wilted geraniums Gertie had given him, he restores them to life.  Of course, the three flowers, two larger yellow geraniums and one small pink one, that assume additional significance as the movie runs its course, represent the three siblings E. T. has brought back to a more normal semblance of family life. 

The ABC picture book anticipates the next day’s crosscutting sequence that is largely associated with school (Elliot) and learning (E.T.).  At the school bus stop, the three boys shown at the beginning of the movie taunt Elliot.  Only now, having undergone a change, Michael is on his side, and Elliot stands his ground.  In the exchange of insults, Elliot gets the idea to call the extra-terrestrial “E. T.”  Tyler’s word play, “Where’s he from?  Uranus?  Get it.  Your anus?” caps off the anal stage.

Phallic Stage:  Appropriately enough, the third stage of development, the phallic stage (where “the primitive energy expression turns. . . toward an outgoing phase of involvement which eventually culminates in relatedness and the union of the opposites of sexuality.”),[11] starts and ends with Elliot and the blonde girl.   She is the first person shown at the bus stop among the waiting boys and girls as Elliot drives up on his bicycle.  If to go by the glances she gives Elliot while talking to another girl, the talk is about him.  Apparently she has a crush on him. 

The “relatedness and the union” starts right away, as Elliot, in biology class, draws the extra-terrestrial’s picture and writes the initials of E.T.’s new name, shown just as the teacher talks of “many similarities.”  The two are physically separated but are connected in their hearts and minds, a connection suggested by their wearing flannel shirts of identical patterns, Elliot’s red shirt matching E.T.’s blue.  While the teacher talks of “fluids,” back home E. T., having grown from Coke to beer, goes to the refrigerator and starts drinking one of man’s favorite fluids.  He is doing the drinking, but it is Elliot who burps.  It is the first sign of their being biologically connected.  The whole classroom turns to him, but it is the blonde girl who receives a close-up.  Elliot sliding down in his seat to the teacher’s “similarities” corresponds to E.T. falling backward to the floor.  Looking back at the blonde girl, she gives him a tolerant “what a jerk!” look, underscoring their connections. The “nuisance” that E. T. inadvertently misspells on the “Speak Spell” game describes what Elliot becomes in the classroom. 

The TV movie of the spaceship beaming up a flying plane, shared by a man and woman, corresponds to the next shot in the biology lab, where the teacher hands out two jars of frogs to Elliot and the blonde girl, who are now sitting next to each other.  Elliot asks his frog if it can talk just as he had asked E.T.  The trapped frog that he observes in the classroom gives E.T. a feeling of being trapped.  As part of the phallic stage, Elliot wants to save the phallic frogs from dissection (castration).  Saying “Run for your life.  Back to the river.  Back to the forest,” he refers to the place where E.T. landed and to the unconscious.  His yelling “I gotta let him go!” recalls his wanting to “keep him” in the anal stage, suggesting he has to let go of E. T., who can only be “saved” by going home, just as Elliot has to let go the trauma of abandonment.

In keeping with the phallic stage, the analogy between the frogs and E.T. suggests that the extra-terrestrial is what Eugene Monick calls the “phallos, the erect penis, the emblem and standard of maleness.”[12]  In terms of Elliot and E.T. growing up together, “Phallos opens the door to masculine depth,”[13] to the realm of the father, whose advent E.T. initiates.  A sign of Elliot’s entering the masculine, his becoming a “man,” comes when he and the blonde girl act out the parts of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in John Ford’s The Quiet Man that E.T. watches on TV.  Together with O’Hara screaming at seeing her own reflection, the blonde girl, shown standing on a chair in her black shoes and white sox (an image recalling the shot of Dorothy Gale’s red shoes), screams at seeing a phallic frog placed on her shoe, which recalls Elliot’s initial reaction to E.T.  Elliot kisses the blonde girl just as Wayne grabs and kisses O’Hara.  The last shot of the kissing sequence returns to the pair of feet inside the black shoes.  As in The Wizard of Oz, the image of the feet inside the shoes has obvious sexual connotations.  It certainly makes a fitting ending for the phallic stage, which “culminates in relatedness and the union of the opposites.”  Where Elliot, together with E.T., initially used his mouth for the intake of food, now that he has grown up he uses it to kiss a girl.  Likewise, E. T. uses his mouth to start talking, which marks a new stage of growth.


[1] Steven Spielberg, “Inside the Artists Studio,” James Lipton interviewer[2] Steven Spielberg, “Inside the Artists Studio,”[3] Spielberg speaking about “E.T.,” during the 20th anniversary special on NBC, March 16, 2002[4] Steven Spielberg, 20th anniversary DVD supplement, “Evolution and creation of E. T.”[5] Inez Hedges, “Breaking the Frame,” p. 109[6] S. Spielberg, “Inside the Artists Studio”[7] Philip Taylor, “Steven Spielberg:  The Man, His Movies and Their Meaning,” p. 127, 1999[8] Ilsa J. Bick,  “The Look Back in E.T.,” from “The films of Steven Spielberg Critical Essays, Charles L. P. Silet , Ed.,  p. 79[9] Edward C. Whitmont, “The Symbolic Quest,” p. 240[10] E. C. Whitmont, p. 241[11] E. C. Whitmont, p. 243[12] Eugene Monick, “Phallos,” p. 9[13] E. Monick, p. 10

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