Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

close encounters of the third kind poster 1977 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great movie that is able to inspire wonder, story goes where you wouldn't expect it


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Studio:  EMI Films

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Drama

Release Date(s):  November 16, 1977

MPAA Rating:  PG

close encounters of the third kind indiana aliens ufos

I live in Indiana…this is nothing like anything near Muncie

Something is up there.  Family man Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) finds his life turned upside down when he encounters an unidentified object on a lonely country road outside of Muncie, Indiana.  Jillian Guiler (Melinda Dillon) also discovers her world destroyed when her son Barry (Cary Guffey) disappears in a beam of light.  Now, both Jillian and Roy are haunted by strange images that they can’t get out of their minds and the message is getting stronger.  Something is up there…but it is coming to Earth!

Written and directed by Steven Spielberg, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a sci-fi-fantasy drama.  The film developed from Spielberg’s teenage film Firelight and is a follow-up to his 1974 hit film Jaws.  A special extended edition was released on August 1, 1980 and a 40th Anniversary version was released on September 1, 2017.  The film won a special achievement Academy award for Sound Effects Editing and received nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Dillon), Best Director (Spielberg), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Score.  The movie was released to critical acclaim and strong box-office.  The movie was selected in 2007 for preservation by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry.

close encounters of the third kind richard dreyfuss devils tower

This means something

While Jaws made Steven Spielberg famous and continues to give rank the highest of his films (for good reasons), I always was partial to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  The wonder and the beauty of the film combined with strong acting has made the movie last for me.

The story has an odd storyline.  You get a few very different characters.  You get family man Roy and single mother Jillian who both find themselves on a converging path due to something amazing and also terrifying.  Not only are they battling their own memories (chronic images that they can’t seem to exorcise), but they are also battling other’s calling them crazy and a government trying to stop them.  Roy is reaching for the stars to find something he’s always wanted while Jillian is seeking something she lost.

close encounters of the third kind devils tower mother ship

Cue the music

The cast is often at their best in the movie.  Richard Dreyfuss is able to show exasperation perfectly for the movie (much like Jaws), but he also has a childlike sense of wonder and fear that carries the film.  I’ve always been a fan of Melinda Dillon and while many associate her with A Christmas Story, I’ve always thought this was her best major role.  The movie also features a large acting role by famed director François Truffaut who actually does quite a good job as a scientist who sees Dreyfuss for what he was given and wants.

Visually, the movie is stunning.  The film has been edited and reedited multiple times with the famed “inside the alien ship” added and taken off.  Other scenes have been trimmed and reworked multiple times as the years have gone.  Despite all this, the visuals remain strong and the film is able to build terror with scenes like the home invasion while also building joy and amazement.  I still find the giant long-armed alien one of the most terrifying things I’ve seen.

close encounters of the third kind tall alien ending

This tall alien thing scared the crap out of me…I say nope if I see this wispy moving thing

For me, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a magical type of movie.  It captures childhood and it also captures childhood wonder (much like E.T.).  My favorite moment in the film probably comes at the end in which Dreyfuss tells Dillon that he has to get closer and she concedes that she is close enough but understands… It is little moments like that which have more strength (in my opinion) than more of Spielberg’s recent outings which seem to just try to recapture moments like this.  Spielberg continued his great takeover of the cinema with his first fumble with 1941 released in 1979.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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