The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, based on the screenplay by Melissa Mathison, and E. T.: The Book of the Green Planet, based on a story by director Steven Spielberg, concern the redemptive and transformative love between an extraterrestrial and an earthling child, a love that changes the boy, Elliott, into a purposeful, self-assured young man. E. T. becomes a father figure for Elliott, protecting him and performing miracles for him. The first novel concerns the growing love of Elliott for E. T.; the second concerns E. T.s love for Elliott.

In E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, a spacecraft seeking botanical specimens lands near a California suburb. One of the botanists, a ten-million-year-old elfin creature, strays too far from the ship and misses the takeoff. Alone and millions of light years from home, he approaches the house where Elliott and his family live. The fatherless household is boisterous and disorganized. Elliott in particular seems doomed to mediocrity by his lack of a father.

After the first, mutually terrified, meeting of E. T. and Elliott, Elliott hides him in his closet to protect him from unimaginative adults. He learns to love E. T. and realizes that E. T. possesses tremendous knowledge and wisdom. When Elliotts siblings meet E. T., five-year-old Gertie gives him a potted geranium and introduces him to her Speak-and-Spell toy, from which he deduces the phonemic structure of English. He also recognizes a computer in the toy, and by using parts of it, he constructs a device to signal his home planet. On Halloween, Elliott and the disguised E. T. bicycle to a hill to leave the transmitter. When they are followed, E. T. makes the bicycle fly, allowing them to evade their pursuers. They leave the transmitter.

The government,...

(The entire section is 734 words.)