You know, E.T. doesn’t look a thing like Jesus. He’s much shorter. His eyes are freakishly huge, and I’m pretty sure Jesus’ weren’t. His belly and torso look terribly malnourished and his feet look like they belong to a 90-year-old duck. Again, characteristics I’m pretty sure Jesus does not have. But E.T. acts an awful lot like Jesus. One of the many things I love about this movie is that it has the perfect Christ story yet it seems to have avoided being dragged through every evangelical pulpit of the western world. Yet the whole Christ story is there. Healing, death, resurrection, ascension. Even the movie poster looks an awful lot like Michelangelo’s depiction of God and man. But what I think he exemplifies the best is the alien part. Jesus really was like an alien. A stranger in a strange land.
It’s hard to imagine what that would be like visiting a completely different planet. E.T. didn’t speak the language. He looked dramatically different than the inhabitants of the planet he was visiting, and I’m sure that being at least half the height of most of them would be unnerving at best. And I thought it was hard to blend in when I visited Russia. I wonder if I ate any Reese’s Pieces while I was there.
But that is one thing I really value: seeing things from a different perspective. For E.T. he was completely outside of his “normal.” He was lost as any being could possibly be. But he does manage to get that touch of home by befriending Elliot (and of course Gertie). This relationship makes the movie. I remember it being the first time ever watching a movie in a theatre and seeing people around me crying.
But those kinds of stories always get us. We have all felt that feeling of being the odd man out. The one who’s being picked on or who seems uncomfortably out of place. And when we have someone who has taken an interest in us, who seems to care about our welfare, it moves us. Maybe that’s why one of the closing lines is etched so deeply in the popular culture consciousness. Even though the alien only says a handful of words the entire movie, we all can recite those immortal four words: “I’ll be right here.”
That’s what I think I like most about the Christ story too. I know he heals, he preaches, he tells off self-righteous virtuosos, but it’s the subtle way that he notices people and assures them. I love it how when Jesus is leaving the earth he tells his followers the same thing as E.T. told Elliot. Essentially that he’d always be with us. Maybe that’s why the only picture of a full-grown man with children that doesn’t creep us out is one where the guy is Jesus.
Congratulations E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Julie Andrews, of course. Her portrayal of Maria is awesome. But I do want to give a nod to Cindy Williams. I had a little boy crush on her (as well as Marie Osmond and Betty Rubble if you must know) when I watched Laverne and Shirley back in the 70’s, and she does so well in American Graffiti.
Best Actor: Richard Dreyfuss as Curt in American Graffiti.
Best Quote: “I haven’t had so much fun since the day we put glue on Fraulein Josephine’s toothbrush.” – Kurt, The Sound of Music
Tomorrow is Saturday and I am so looking forward to it. It’s been a while since I had an entire weekend with no shift work to do, no bumper to fix or training course to sit in on. I’m going to have fun with my family and live the “I’ll be right here” sentiment as palpably as possible. I’ll probably watch a movie too, though.