It is with this basic background in mind that we must then approach E.T, situated as it was in the mid 80s, when alien furor was going strong from earlier hits like Close Encounters, Star Wars, and other science fiction works. With Close Encounters and E.T. Spielberg takes a turn from the alien norm, presenting audiences with “good” space buddies. Instead of coming to annihilate the planet, the space neighbors abduct people from the populace because they’re “elect” (Close Encounters) and make contact with others because they too are “special” (Elliot in E.T.). For my analysis, it is crucial to keep Close Encounters in mind, since I believe they are relatively connected in a loose way. In the Spielberg 70s-80s universe, these other worldly entities have been making contact for a while now, yet their motives remain hidden. In my Close Encounters analysis, I elucidated how the deeper meaning of film centered around communication, symbols and language. That is also the theme of E.T., through with E.T. the imagery is intended to evoke the subconscious of the youth. Close Encounters is an adult’s story, while E.T. is for kids. Both films focus heavily on semiotics and involve complex usages of synchronicity, foreshadowing and occult symbology.
While I don’t focus much on aliens, I do have several significant books on the subject. Keeping an open mind, I have read enough on the matter to say that the evidence points overwhelmingly, in almost all cases, to so-called alien encounters being humanly manufactured and/or government-related psy ops. In saying that, I do not consider it impossible to hold to the view of Jim Keith or Jacques Vallee that there may be demonic entities that are related to the subject, but in my research, most of these cases involve little to no supernatural elements. It is with this presupposition that I approach the artistic portrayal of aliens and film, which are more akin to propaganda. Although I’d viewed E.T. several times in the past, the last week reviewing the film several times in detail, I did notice elements I had missed in the past which I think confirm my reading. In my view, E.T. is a youthful version of Close Encounters intent on melding both a clever use of symbology and occult imagery for the purpose of effecting a change in the mass psyche as regards the existence and nature of aliens, or “interdimensional entities,” or “daemons.”
In the cases of so-called abductions and encounters of the “third kind,” the stories often reveal similar patterns and themes. Abductees are told they are a “special” elect and experience symptoms that often sound exactly the same as those who have unfortunately undergone ritual abuse. Kidnapping, experimentation, drugging, lost time, multiple personalities, sexual abuse and “probing,” bizarre costumes and scars, occult and odd religious ceremonies, etc., all characterize the accounts of both the ritually abused and “alien” abducted. Though almost no one discusses this but authors like Jim Keith, it should be obvious to those in criminology that there might be a connection. This is my own speculation, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the two are so similar. Several real examples of UFO cults also provide ample evidence, since often these cults combine the two openly. Consider, for example, the Heaven’s Gate cult whose leader famously had odd occult and shadow government associations, or L. Ron Hubbard’s elaborate and ridiculous alien mythology in Scientology. Both Applewhite and Hubbard had military connections and interests in Blavatsky and theosophy, while Hubbard was even for a time a devotee of Aleister Crowley. With both of these characters we see examples of men who associated ritual occultism and “alien” agendas. The alien mythos and ritual magic is also evident in my esoteric analysis of 2001: A Space Odyssey here.
With these examples in mind, let us consider E.T. An initial clue that we are dealing with a film about semiotics and meaning is contained in the letters “E” “T” and in the name of the main protagonist, Elliot. Elliot’s name begins and ends with E and T, foreshadowing the mystical connection the two will share. This will be important later when we consider what exactly E.T. is. E.T. arrives in a globe shaped craft as part of a scientific expedition to collect plant specimens. After being accidentally left, E.T. is surrounded by flora and fauna, associating him with nature, and avoiding the adult government agents who are tracking him. E.T. is supposed to evoke an association with nature, animals and the wild, as opposed to the urban and suburban life of the nearby California city. E.T. has a “spiritual” connection, it seems, to “nature,” while men are alienated from it in their consumer-driven city life. This will be evident later in the film, but is a very obvious theme in several Spielberg films of the 80s. E.T. of course gets left behind, and is immediately alienated. In classical Marxist theory, alienation is the angst man feels as a result of his urban lifestyle that is a result of the economic mode of consumer-driven capitalism. In the DVD commentary, Spielberg and Marxist Peter Coyote even speak about E.T. as an attempt at a kind of cultural Marxism, since E.T. represents alienation and the transcendence of all boundaries of culture and class. However, I would like to add that, as a vehement critic of Marxism, these two aspects of Marxism are correct: man does experience alienation as a result of consumer-driven mass capitalism and urbanization (this is part of the meaning of Gremlins as a side note).
As the action shifts to the single parent household of Elliot (his mother is named Mary, with obvious religious significance), we notice that Elliot isn’t allowed in the D&D game: he’s the runt who has to fetch the pizza and wait his turn to play. Already the connection with E.T. is evident, yet on a deeper esoteric level the viewer is given initial signs of what is to come. Two planets are shown in the D&D scene: Jupiter and Saturn. These are two central planets in classical mythology, but what I noticed in the last viewing was that in the progression of the film, we are actually shown each of the planets. The perceptive eye also begins to see the Kubrick-esque imagery with the circular lamp, and Spielberg’s film will actually make some interesting symbolic references to Kubrick, one of Spielberg’s favorite directors. From an esoteric perspective this is important because of the deep, symbolic nature of Kubrick’s occult films, particularly 2001 and The Shining. Spielberg will reference these in a hidden way.
While I don’t think Dungeons & Dragons is a big deal, it could be a use of irony that as the young guys are discussing ritual magic in the context of the game, they accidentally “invoke” E.T. D&D did have a reputation in the 80s of being an “occult” game that involved kids in forbidden practices, so it is possible that this was in Spielberg’s mind as a kind of joke playing on 80s fundamentalist fears. Regardless, after the presentation of Jupiter and Saturn, Elliot meets his spacebrother, E.T. It could also be significant that Peter Coyote plays the shadow government scientist named “Keys.” We are not told anything more about him, but when he appears, we see Keys with his keys jingling on his belt. That alone is a use of synchronicity, with the character signifying not only an aspect of his person, but also on an esoteric level, Keys could be a reference to the famed Key of Solomon, a famous fraudulent text of ritual magic that purported to be the method by which King Solomon was able to control spirits and demons, both good and evil. Is Spielberg hinting that the “key” to interpreting the film is understanding such esoteric references?
I have argued at length in my Close Encounters and Raiders of the Lost Ark analyses that Spielberg is quite familiar with the mystical and esoteric side of Judaism. It is also significant that it is under the moon that Elliot first encounters E.T. The moon has an important role in mythology as regulating the female ovulatory cycle, and thus being associated with the feminine. In astrology, the moon has a direct influence on human actions, and here as a possible “moonchild,” Elliot encounters what will be his familiar. My contention about E.T. is that he is more like a familiar spirit than an “alien.” In classical descriptions of the familiar, the spirit can be associated with an animal. Is Elliot a kind of “Moonchild,” referencing the Crowleyan mythology of a demonic insemination? Elliot is spoken of as chosen and through E.T., will have magical powers. Is this the symbolic meaning of the moon with Elliot and E.T.?
As with Close Encounters, E.T. arrives on the “high place,” the traditional arrival spot of the gods in the biblical historical books, and God, on Mt. Sinai. Elliot ascends to the “high places” to aid E.T., as Roy had to do in Close Encounters. After the moon imagery, which initially was a partial moon that later becomes a full moon at Halloween, it is important to mention the season. By the time of Elliot’s full union with E.T., it is Halloween, the beginning of the winter solstice. Halloween is also the ancient druidic festival of Samhain, an important time in the pagan and occult ritual calendar. Given what I have argued elsewhere, I don’t think it’s accidental that Halloween was chosen as the setting, as Samhain is the time with the gates and doors to the “otherworld” are opened, and the spirits of the dead enter our realm. This is precisely the point of the Key of Solomon, as noted earlier. While a theme of the demonic invasion of America may seem out of place, that is precisely the theme of both Poltergeist and Gremlins and Gremlins 2.
When E.T. and Elliot meet, there is an odd conversation about words, language and simulacra. Elliot says, “This is a coke [a fake spilled Coke]….these are men, they can have wars…Fish eat fish food, sharks eat fish…This is a peanut….you can’t eat this peanut, you put your money in it.” This is significant because to Elliot’s young mind there is no separation of concept, thing, and symbol. For Elliot, he has to stop and explain to E.T. how the peanut is a bank, but is not a real peanut. The Coke is not a real Coke, etc. This is simulacra at work. I have mentioned in my Close Encounters analysis Spielberg’s use of simulacra, but some readers were skeptical. Simulacra are common in Kubrick films, a great example of which is the scene in The Shining where the model maze becomes the actual maze in Jack’s perception. The model becomes the reality.
Simulacra is important to semiotics, but it also has an important role in esoterism because of the idea of correspondences. Before modern philosophy divorced metaphysics from academia, the holistic view of the sciences in the western tradition included an idea of essentialism which would have connected the “essences” of things with all their referents and symbols. Thus, there would be an association between the symbol of the maze, the model, and its referent, the actual maze. This is a deep, difficult subject that gets into a lot of heavy philosophy and semiotics, but the idea is simply foreign to most moderns because of stupid philosophy. Thus, Plato discussed simulacra, and the wiki entry on simulacrum even mentions Spielberg’s Jurassic Park as an example. Hollywood, just like esoterism, or like writing itself, is the manipulation of copies, signs and symbols. As I mentioned earlier, E.T. is about symbols, language and meaning (like Close Encounters), and we are constantly given camera angles and shots in E.T. from a kid’s perspective. The cross-reference to Star Wars is also interesting.
As E.T. showcases his abilities, we see that he can make objects levitate, and when Elliot asks where he’s from, E.T. causes small Play-Doh versions of the planets to orbit.
Continuing with the planet sequence, we see Mars, Mercury and Uranus now, and possibly Pluto, with the sun in the center. Another element I have not mentioned yet is the transition to puberty. E.T. tells the kids he has come from outer space, prompting Gertie to call him the “man from the moon,” which will be relevant in a moment.
Elliot has not yet kissed a girl, but when E.T. gets drunk (causing Elliot to be drunk), Elliot starts a “free the frogs” revolution in his biology class, and kisses the cute blonde. Granted that is simply the target audience, but like Labyrinth, there is odd reference to the transition to puberty that involves the tutelage of a spirit (there, Bowie leads young gals to puberty, here, an ugly reptilian creature leads Elliot). E.T. seems to cause Elliot to awaken in this way because he (E.T.) sees a film where a man and woman kiss. While this happens, the camera shows Voyager, Jupiter and Io. Voyager was the mission that sent probes to Jupiter and Saturn in the late 70s, as a result of the work of the JPL in California. This again brings to mind Crowley, since Jack Whiteside Parsons was one of the founders of the JPL and a follower of Crowley. The use of Io is also interesting, since Io was a virgin lunar deity.
Indeed, when Elliot first meets and finally parts with him, E.T. touches Elliot’s “third eye.” In Hinduism and esoterism, this is the spiritual eye that is awakened through the Kundalini power that is purportedly coiled at the base of the spine, which eventually reaches the third eye for “enlightenment.” It is also directly connected to sexual potency and energy. You’ll also notice that Venus was not left out, but referenced in the closet, with the clear imagery of the star of Venus, the eight-sided star. We also figure out that E.T. is reptilian, since there is a connection between Elliot freeing the frogs and his sympathy for E.T. This is also why E.T. can breath underwater and resembles a cross between a frog and a turtle.
Further evidence of E.T. as a kind of familiar spirit is the fact that his reptilian “light” evokes biblical imagery from Genesis, with the serpent, as well as later New Testament texts where Paul describes the devil as a deceptive “being of light.” In Hinduism, the Kundalini energy is the serpent energy, again evoking similar themes. Indeed, E.T. even dies, but appears to grant Elliot the power of resurrection, since Elliot’s love causes E.T.’s heart to beat again. Indeed, in the DVD commentary, Drew Barrymore makes a bizarre comment that E.T. was like a “guardian angel for them,” insisting that he was almost real. One of the more odd scenes surrounds the arrival of the government agents who have surveilled Elliot’s house. When they arrive, they don’t wear Hazmat suits, they arrive as Apollo Mission astronauts.
This is one of the more interesting aspects of the film. Why? After this scene, the doctors and scientists all wear Hazmat suits and we never see anything like this again. There are several possibilities, but my speculation is that this is a reference to Kubrick. Just as we have seen planets evoked, particularly planets related to 2001: A Space Odyssey, where Bowman encounters the monolith of the alien/gods, so here the “man from the moon” come down and the Apollo astronauts suddenly appear so that we make the association. Whatever one’s view of the Space Program and the moon landing, there is evidence that trickery and deception were involved, as well as the use of Disney sounds stages for some shots. In fact, it is undeniable that Kubrick worked with NASA in some capacity. While the references to Crowley might seem a bit strained, recall that Crowley claimed he communicated with a “spirit” that has famously been identified as an early image of what would become the modern archetype for the “alien.”
My analysis is that it refers back to the power of the simulated image. Hollywood had become the powerful propaganda complex beyond what anyone could imagine. Kubrick had taken it to a new level with his technical innovations and cinematic special effects that had wowed the military industrial complex. I think Spielberg is paying homage to what Kubrick had done and decided to take the same techniques of using simulacra to make “movie magic” even more effective. As such, E.T. was wildly successful at implanting the alien mythos in the psyche. On a film level, it is a cinematic masterpiece, but is Spielberg telling us much more about what is going on in the background behind big events? I think so, and both Close Encounters and E.T. back up this claim. This is why men like Arthur C. Clarke promote the inane alien myth, while supposedly being rationalist atheists.
For further reading, see the Collins brothers’ “MJ-12: The Technocratic Thread”