Today I watched E.T. with my six-year-old son. It was the first time I’d seen the movie since it came out in the 70s and I was riveted. There’s so much going on here I’d forgotten about: the signature Spielberg laissez-faire 70s SoCal single parenting; the way the sun-blasted suburban cul de sac culture edges right up to an untamed wilderness; the fact that the kids are just so much smarter than the grown-ups, especially the grown men in positions of official power. But what made me want to write about the movie here, on a pregnancy blog, is this:
Eliot and E.T. reminded me– overwhelmingly, from start-to-finish- of a mother and child.
Eliot is nurturing, loving and protective. He feeds E.T., teaches E.T. how to talk, and responds to E.T.’s needs and emotions. When everyone else is skeptical, Eliot adamantly defends and protects the little creature. Even in the beginning when Eliot is frightened– like a brand new mother– that fear is coupled with, and ultimately tempered by, a kind of irresistible, magnetic empathy.
At one point, late in the film, the bad grown-up officials have E.T. and Eliot strapped to gurneys, wired up to machines, unable to touch one another. Not surprisingly E.T. starts to wither. Eliot reaches his hand out unable to touch the confused, innocent alien next to him. Though it seems futile, as soon as E.T. hears Eliot’s voice, his heart rate goes back up. When I watched this I thought about a mother, who’s just given birth in a particularly hostile hospital setting, watching her crying newborn baby being placed in a warmer across the room instead of on her chest. Get those cords and wires off that woman and let her hold her baby!
Eliot’s teenage brother explains to the authorities that E.T. communicates through Eliot. He doesn’t think his thoughts, he explains, but “he feels his feelings.” Motherhood, I tell you!
Of course ultimately Eliot has to let E.T. go– to launch his little one (literally) into space. I’ve always knew this was a movie about love and loss, but now that I’m the mom (and not the kid) it’s all coming at me in a different way. I recommend a reviewing. Even if you’re pregnant for the first time, and not yet a mother of children, I’m guessing you’ll know right away exactly what I’m talking about.