Elliot: You could be happy here, I could take care of you.
I wouldn’t let anybody hurt you. We could grow up together, E.T.
I just started crying. Yup, that’s what happens for me when I read the above quote. It’s a dagger of a line. I would have also accepted: “I’ll be right here…” and “E.T. stay with me…” (when E.T. is saying goodbye and dying respectively). Both quotes, hell, all THREE conjure to mind my favorite movie of all time and with said conjuring, the tears bubble and overflow.
Not that I’m crying at this exact moment… At all… Not a tear… Not… Maybe one on the corner that I’ll just, dab… Okay, I’m crying.
That’s not the point… The point is that this line for me tells me everything about the theme of the movie. And it’s a theme that pulls up all kinds of similarities from my own life. Elliot is only a couple years older than I was in the movie at the time.
What I love about E.T. is it is really the story about divorce and how a family reacts after the devastating event. I too am a child of divorce, concurrently going through it in 1982 while E.T. played the multiplexes. This theme of course didn’t hit me at the time; I was merely escaping the drama at home by going to ET 8 times in a row, 8 days in a row. I was an E.T. junkie.
And knowing some little tid-bits of back story, Spielberg’s parents actually divorced in 1960 and after, he created an imaginary alien friend to keep him company. Spielberg is quoted, saying:
“E.T. was ‘a friend’ who could be the brother I never had and a father that I didn’t feel I had anymore.”
No doubt my connection to the film is because of this subconscious link I must of formed watching the film 8 times in a row, 8 days in a row… At 8 years old I might add… Numbers people, IS THIS BAD???
Anywho, this is hands down Spielberg’s most personal film. You can see it in every shot, in every beat and in every moment. With music by John Williams (duh) and Henry Thomas as Elliot, Spielberg captured lightning in a bottle. Again.
In this quote I see the theme of growing up and a need for a father figure all in one. The arrival of ET into Elliot’s life right at the height of his need for a father plays out here. Elliot has some inherent calling to help the creature and soon, a bond forms.
Midway through the movie, however, ET and Elliot stop building their science project to listen to Mom telling Gertie (Drew Barrymore) the story of Peter Pan.
This moment reveals another thread running through the movie, that of childhood innocence and never wanting or needing to grow up. Just like in Peter Pan. Spielberg casually shows us this theme from the very start by never shooting any of the adults in close up. Always from the waist down (except for Mom). This tells us adults aren’t welcome here… Not in Neverland. And it would seem that Elliot is the lost boy to ET’s Peter Pan. Elliot needs ET not just as a father figure… He needs him to be his family.
The quote above is Elliot’s plea for E.T. to stay, to grow up and be together always. I sometimes wonder what a story would look like if ET had never left and Elliot HAD raised the alien as his own?
But then again… ET can’t survive on Earth and needs to “Phone home”. With this, the relationship and its stakes are placed firmly in the mind’s of the audience and I just love how the quote above illustrates that. For also, Elliot knows ET has to go and it’s here, in that moment in the woods when Elliot realizes that there is a good chance ET’s friends will hear the signal and come for him.
It’s as if Elliot is pleading with ET, as a child would a parent when he wants something. And when he doesn’t get it, Elliot hangs his head, crying. A simple gesture from ET – he wipes a tear away from Elliot. ET’s way of saying it will all be okay.
And at it’s simplest, this quote is about friendship. Because, dag-blammit, ET is the best damn buddy movie since Fox and the Hound. It’s heart-breaking and guys, I shit you not, when that last scene kicks in and ET asks Elliot to “…Come…” motioning for Elliot to join him on the spaceship, I lose my mind.
This scene shows the arc of Elliot. He’s no longer lost. He knows his place is with his family now. For they all banded together to save ET. Elliot’s place is on Earth and ET, the stars.
With so many wonderful topics to discuss off the above quote, I could go on for days. It just shows you sometimes quotes don’t have to be memorable or iconic (like ‘ET phone home’) and that a simple connection to story and character can create a line like this. And from the page (by Melissa Matheson) to the pre-production, to the casting, shooting, editing, mixing, composing to the final release, this one line, 31 years later, still brings me to tears just reading it aloud.
Fight on, E.T.
P.S. Thanks for those of you passing these along, you’re like, the best and, like, so awesome.
P.P.S. I know I’m hitting all my favorite movies with these quotes so if you guys want to start tweeting me suggestions you’d like to see me explore… well, like, that would be TOTALLY AWESOME.
P.P.S.S. I promise not to use “like” again. Ever.
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