E.T and Back to the Future are films synonymous with imagination and the glory of fantasy. Both films explore a regression into a childhood fantasy and place emphasis on nostalgia, separation and, fundamentally, destiny.
In E.T the relationship between the alien visitor and Elliot is a poignant crossing of barriers and evokes a deep sense of emotion and desire for tolerance from the empathetic audience. There exists a certain inside/outside distinction, literally between the two worlds/galaxies and species of the alien and the human, but also in relation to the complex relationship of mainstream society, and the friendship between a little boy and an alien he is fighting to send home. It affects on an unconscious and similarly even a pre-conscious level, and emotion becomes a qualified intensity. E.T and Back to the Future both display a profound difference between what is childlike, and childish. The role of the child in general is supreme in both films; Elliot get E.T home, and similarly, Marty has to get back-to-the-future, with each protagonist successfully accomplishing these feats despite their young ages and subsequent obstacles.
Place and landscape are also very important aspects of these films; travel, and transportation from one world to another forms an underlying basis of the narrative structure, even though in E.T this is implied and in Back to the Future we actually see Marty McFly go back to the 1950’s. This obsessive cultural temporality is incredibly poignant; we see E.T’s fascination with the modern world, raiding the fridge and watching television, and similarly Marty’s relationship with the Hill Valley of his youth, and that of his parents. In this way, time is malleable and transformative, despite both protagonists hailing from different worlds in different times, they are able to form substantial relationships and connect to those around them. The paradox in these films is how they classify and deal with the concept of temporal fate and destiny; in class we talked about how E.T makes one nostalgic for a childhood they didn’t have, and in the same fashion Marty goes back to a childhood/teenage phase that in essence created him. What’s also interesting about the latter reference is that though Back to the Future portrays time/fate as a interchangeable sphere, it also shows the barrier of embodied sexuality of the human subconscious through the fabric of time-even though Marty subconsciously sexually desires his mother, he is quick to put his emotions in check. In the end, both films portray the subtleties of the organic childhood fantasy with a conviction that urges the audience to re-assess their own childhood, and childhood fantasies.