Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by Julia Phillips
Michael Phillips
Written by Steven Spielberg
Starring Richard Dreyfuss
François Truffaut
Melinda Dillon
Teri Garr
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond
Editing by Michael Kahn
Studio EMI Films
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) November 16, 1977 (1977-11-16)
Running time 137 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $19.4 million
Box office $303,788,635

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (sometimes abbreviated to CE3K and often referred to as just Close Encounters) is a 1977 science fiction film written and directed by Steven Spielberg. The film stars Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, and Cary Guffey. It tells the story of Roy Neary, a lineman in Indiana, whose life changes after he has an encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO). The United States government and an international team of scientific researchers are also aware of the UFOs.

Close Encounters was a long-cherished project for Spielberg. In late 1973, he developed a deal with Columbia Pictures for a science fiction film. Though Spielberg receives sole credit for the script, he was assisted by Paul Schrader, John Hill, David Giler, Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, and Jerry Belson, all of whom contributed to the screenplay in varying degrees. The title is derived from ufologist J. Allen Hynek's classification of close encounters with aliens, in which the third kind denotes human observations of actual aliens or "animate beings".

Filming began in May 1976. Douglas Trumbull served as the visual effects supervisor, while Carlo Rambaldi designed the aliens. Close Encounters was released in November 1977 and was a critical and financial success. The film was reissued in 1980 as Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Special Edition, which featured additional scenes. A third cut of the film was released to home video (and later DVD) in 1998. The film received numerous awards and nominations at the 50th Academy Awards, 32nd British Academy Film Awards, the 35th Golden Globe Awards, the Saturn Awards and has been widely acclaimed by the American Film Institute. In December 2007, it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.[1]

Contents

Plot

In the Sonoran Desert, French scientist Claude Lacombe (François Truffaut) and his American interpreter, mapmaker David Laughlin (Bob Balaban), along with other government scientific researchers, discover Flight 19, a squadron of Grumman TBM Avengers that went missing over thirty years earlier. The planes are intact and operational, but there is no sign of the pilots. An old man who witnessed the event claimed "the sun came out at night, and sang to him." They also find a lost ship in the Gobi Desert named SS Cotopaxi. At an Air Traffic Control center in Indianapolis, Indiana, a controller listens as two airline flights almost have a mid-air collision with an apparent unidentified flying object (UFO). In Muncie, Indiana, three year old Barry Guiler (Cary Guffey) is awakened in the night when his toys start operating on their own. Fascinated, he gets out of bed and discovers something or someone (off-screen) in the kitchen. He runs outside, forcing his mother Jillian (Melinda Dillon) to chase after him.

Investigating one of a series of large-scale power outages, Indiana electrical lineman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) experiences a close encounter of the second kind with a UFO on a dark country road and is soon caught up in a police chase of four UFOs. Roy becomes fascinated by UFOs, much to the dismay of his wife, Ronnie (Teri Garr). He also becomes increasingly obsessed with subliminal, mental images of a mountain-like shape and begins to make models of it. Jillian also becomes obsessed with sketching a unique-looking mountain. Soon after, she is terrorized in her home by a UFO encounter in which Barry is abducted by unseen beings.

Elsewhere in the world, the pace of UFO activity is increasing. Lacombe and Laughlin investigate a host of occurrences along with other United Nations experts. Witnesses report that the UFOs make distinctive sounds: a five-tone musical phrase in a major scale. Scientists broadcast the phrase to outer space, but are mystified by the response: a seemingly meaningless series of numbers repeated over and over, until Laughlin recognizes it as a set of geographical coordinates pointing to Devils Tower in Moorcroft, Wyoming. Lacombe and the U.S. military converge on Wyoming. The United States Army evacuates the area, planting false reports in the media that a train wreck has spilled a toxic nerve gas, all the while preparing a secret landing zone for the UFOs and their occupants.

Meanwhile, Roy's increasingly erratic behavior causes Ronnie to leave him, taking their three children with her. When a despairing Roy inadvertently sees a television news program about the train wreck near Devils Tower, he realizes the mental image of a mountain plaguing him is real. Jillian sees the same broadcast, and she and Roy, as well as others with similar experiences, travel to the site in spite of the public warnings about nerve gas.

While most of the civilians who are drawn to the site are apprehended by the Army, Roy and Jillian persist and make it to the site just as dozens of UFOs appear in the night sky. The government specialists at the site begin to communicate with the UFOs by use of light and sound on a large electrical billboard. Following this, an enormous mother ship lands at the site, returning people who had been abducted over the years, including Barry, and the missing pilots from Flight 19. The government officials decide to include Roy in a group of people whom they have selected to be potential visitors to the mothership, and hastily prepare him. As the aliens finally emerge from the mothership, they select Roy to join them on their travels. As Roy enters the mothership, one of the aliens pauses for a few moments with the humans. Lacombe uses Curwen hand signs that correspond to the five note alien tonal phrase. The alien replies with the same gestures, smiles, and returns to its ship, which lifts off into the night sky.

Cast

  • Richard Dreyfuss as Roy Neary, an electrical lineman in Indiana who encounters and forms an obsession with unidentified flying objects. Steve McQueen was Spielberg's first choice. Although McQueen was impressed with the script, he felt he was not specifically right for the role as he was unable to cry on cue. Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, and Gene Hackman turned down the part as well.[2] Jack Nicholson turned it down because of scheduling conflicts. Spielberg explained when filming Jaws, "Dreyfuss talked me into casting him. He listened to about 155-days worth of Close Encounters. He even contributed ideas."[3] Dreyfuss reflected, "I launched myself into a campaign to get the part. I would walk by Steve's office and say stuff like 'Al Pacino has no sense of humor' or 'Jack Nicholson is too crazy'. I eventually convinced him to cast me."[2]
  • François Truffaut as Claude Lacombe, a French government scientist in charge of UFO-related activities in the United States. Gérard Depardieu, Philippe Noiret, Jean-Louis Trintignant, and Lino Ventura were considered for the role. During filming, Truffaut used his free time to write the script for The Man Who Loved Women. He also worked on a novel titled The Actor, a project he abandoned.[4]
  • Melinda Dillon as Jillian Guiler, Barry's single mother. She forms a similar obsession to Roy's, and the two become friends. Teri Garr wanted to portray Jillian, but was cast as Ronnie. Hal Ashby, who worked with Dillon on Bound for Glory, suggested her for the part to Spielberg. Dillon was cast three days before filming began.[2]
  • Cary Guffey as Barry Guiler, Jillian's young child abducted in the middle of the film. Spielberg conducted a series of method acting techniques to help Guffey, who was cast when he was just three years old.[2]
  • Teri Garr as Veronica "Ronnie" Neary, Roy's wife. Amy Irving (who later became Spielberg's wife) auditioned for the role.[5]
  • Bob Balaban as David Laughlin, Lacombe's assistant and English-French interpreter. They meet for the first time in the Sonoran Desert at the beginning of the film.
  • Josef Sommer as Larry Butler, a curious man who meets Roy and Jillian in Wyoming and attempts to scale Devil's Tower with them.
  • Lance Henriksen as Robert. Henriksen would go on to star in such sci-fi classics as The Terminator and Aliens.
  • Roberts Blossom as Farmer, a radical who claims to have seen Sasquatch.

J. Allen Hynek and Stanton T. Friedman make cameo appearances at the closing scene. Spielberg's friends Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins cameo as two World War II pilots returning from the mother ship. Real life ARP technician Phil Dodds cameos as the operator of the ARP 2500 synthesizer communicating with the alien ship.

Production

Development

The film's genesis started when Steven Spielberg and his father saw a meteor shower in New Jersey when the director was young.[2] As a teenager, Spielberg completed the full-length science fiction film Firelight. Many scenes from Firelight would be incorporated in Close Encounters on a shot-for-shot basis.[6] In 1970 he wrote a short story called Experiences about a lovers' lane in a Midwestern United States farming community and the "light show" a group of teenagers see in the night sky.[7] In late 1973, during post-production on The Sugarland Express, Spielberg developed a deal with Columbia Pictures for a science fiction film. 20th Century Fox previously turned down the offer.[7] Julia and Michael Phillips instantly signed on as producers.[8]

He first considered doing a documentary or a low-budget feature film about people who believed in UFOs. Spielberg decided "a film that depended on state of the art technology couldn't be made for $2.5 million."[7] Borrowing a phrase from the ending of The Thing from Another World, he retitled the film Watch the Skies, rewriting the premise concerning Project Blue Book and pitching the concept to Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz. Katz remembered "It had flying saucers from outer space landing on Robertson Boulevard [in West Hollywood, California]. I go, 'Steve, that's the worst idea I ever heard."[7] Spielberg brought Paul Schrader to write the script in December 1973 with principal photography to begin in late-1974. However, Spielberg started work on Jaws in 1974, pushing Watch the Skies back.[7]

With the financial and critical success of Jaws, Spielberg earned a vast amount of creative control from Columbia, including the right to make the film any way he wanted.[9] Schrader turned in his script, which Spielberg called, "one of the most embarrassing screenplays ever professionally turned in to a major film studio or director. It was a terribly guilt-ridden story not about UFOs at all."[3] Titled Kingdom Come, the script's protagonist was a 45-year-old Air Force Officer named Paul Van Owen who worked with Project Blue Book. "[His] job for the government is to ridicule and debunk flying saucers." Schrader continued. "One day he has an encounter. He goes to the government, threatening to blow the lid off to the public. Instead, he and the government spend 15 years trying to make contact."[3] Spielberg and Schrader experienced creative differences, hiring John Hill to rewrite.[3] At one point the main character was a police officer.[2] Spielberg "[found] it hard to identify with men in uniform. I wanted to have Mr. Everyday Regular Fella." Spielberg rejected the Schrader/Hill script during post-production on Jaws.[3] He reflected, "they wanted to make it like a James Bond adventure."[10]

David Giler performed a rewrite; Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins,[2] friends of Spielberg, suggested the plot device of a kidnapped child. Spielberg then began to write the script. The song "When You Wish upon a Star" from Pinocchio influenced Spielberg's writing style. "I hung my story on the mood the song created, the way it affected me personally."[3] Jerry Belson and Spielberg wrote the shooting script together. In the end, Spielberg was given solo writing credit.[3] During pre-production, the title was changed from Kingdom Come to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.[9] J. Allen Hynek, who worked with the United States Air Force on Project Blue Book, was hired as a scientific consultant. Hynek felt "even though the film is fiction, it's based for the most part on the known facts of the UFO mystery, and it certainly catches the flavor of the phenomenon. Spielberg was under enormous pressure to make another blockbuster after Jaws, but he decided to make a UFO movie. He put his career on the line."[3] USAF and NASA declined to cooperate on the film.[9]

Filming

Devils Tower in Wyoming was used as a filming location

Principal photography began on May 16, 1976. Spielberg did not want to do any location shooting because of his negative experience on Jaws and wanted to shoot Close Encounters entirely on sound stages, but eventually dropped the idea. Filming took place in Burbank, California, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, two abandoned World War II airship hangars at the former Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile, Alabama and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad depot in Bay Minette. The home where Barry was abducted is located outside the town of Fairhope, Alabama. Roy Neary's home is at Carlisle Drive East, Mobile, Alabama. The UFOs fly through the toll booth at the Vincent Thomas Bridge, San Pedro, California. The Gobi Desert sequence was photographed at the Dumont Dunes, California, and the Dharmsala-India exteriors were actually filmed at the small village of Hal near Khalapur 35 miles (56 km) outside Mumbai, India.[11] The hangars in Alabama were six times larger than the biggest sound stage in the world.[9][12] Various technical and budgetary problems occurred during filming. Spielberg called Close Encounters "twice as bad and twice as expensive [as Jaws]".[3] Matters worsened when Columbia Pictures experienced financial difficulties. Spielberg estimated the film would cost $2.7 million to make in his original 1973 pitch to Columbia, but the final budget came to $19.4 million.[9]

Columbia studio executive John Veich remembered, "If we knew it was going to cost that much, we wouldn't have greenlighted it because we didn't have the money."[9] Spielberg hired Joe Alves, his collaborator on Jaws, as production designer.[4] In addition the 1976 Atlantic hurricane season brought tropical storms to Alabama. A large portion of the sound stage in Alabama was damaged because of a lightning strike.[2] During filming, cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond remembered, "Every night Steve watched movies and got more ideas. He added more shots to the shooting schedule, pushing it back. One crew member said, 'Steven, if you would stop watching those fucking movies every night we would be on schedule.'"[3] Zsigmond previously turned down the chance to work on Jaws. In her book You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again, producer Julia Phillips wrote highly profane remarks about Spielberg, Zsigmond, and Truffaut. She was fired during post-production because of a cocaine addiction. Phillips blamed it on Spielberg being a perfectionist.[9]

Visual effects

Douglas Trumbull was the visual effects supervisor, while Carlo Rambaldi designed the aliens. Trumbull joked that the visual effects budget, at $3.3 million, could have been made to produce another film [in addition to this one]. His work helped lead to advances in motion control photography. The mother ship was designed by Ralph McQuarrie and built by Greg Jein. The look of the ship was inspired by an oil refinery Spielberg saw at night in India.[3] Instead of the metallic hardware look used in Star Wars, the emphasis was on a more luminescent look of the UFOs. Many of the model makers attempted comical objects in the UFOs. One was an oxygen mask with lights, while Dennis Muren put an in-joke from his work on Star Wars, using an R2-D2 toy.[2] (The model that was the mother ship is now on display in the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Annex at Washington Dulles Airport in Chantilly, Virginia.) Since Close Encounters was filmed anamorphically, the visual effects sequences were shot in 70 mm film to better conform with the 35 mm film. A test reel using computer-generated imagery was used for the UFOs, but Spielberg found it would be too expensive since CGI was new technology in the mid-1970s.[2] The small aliens in the final scenes were played by local girls in Mobile, Alabama. That decision was requested by Spielberg because he felt "girls move more gracefully than boys."[2] Puppetry was attempted for the aliens, but the idea failed. However, Rambaldi successfully used puppetry to depict the larger alien that communicates with Lacombe near the end of the film.[2]

Post-production

Close Encounters is the first collaboration between film editor Michael Kahn and Spielberg. Their relationship continued for the rest of Spielberg's films. When Kahn and Spielberg delivered the first cut of the film, Spielberg was dissatisfied, feeling "there wasn't enough wow-ness".[2] Pick-ups were commissioned but cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond could not participate.[9] John A. Alonzo, László Kovács, William A. Fraker and Douglas Slocombe worked on the pick-ups.[9] Lacombe was originally to find Flight 19 hidden in the Amazon Rainforest, but the idea was changed to the Sonoran Desert. This was an important scene added in the re-shoots. Composer John Williams wrote over 300 examples of the iconic five-tone motif before Spielberg chose the right one. Spielberg called Williams' work as "When You Wish upon a Star meets science fiction".[2] Spielberg wanted to have "When You Wish upon a Star" in the closing credits, but was denied permission (though the song's signature melody can be heard briefly just before Roy Neary turns to board the mothership). He also took 7.5 minutes out from the preview.[4] Post-production was completed by June 1977, too late for the film to be released as a 'summer blockbuster'.

Soundtrack album

Original 1977 soundtrack album
Soundtrack album by John Williams
Released 1977 / 1998 (Collector's Edition)
Length 41 mins (Original album and cassette)
44 mins (re-issued cassette)
77 mins (Collector's Edition CD)
Label Arista
Producer John Williams
Alternative cover
1998 Collector's Edition soundtrack

Music

The score was composed, conducted and produced by John Williams, who had previously won an Academy Award for his work on Spielberg's Jaws. Much like his two-note Jaws theme, the "five-tone" motif for Close Encounters has since become ingrained in popular culture (the five tones are used by scientists to communicate with the visiting spaceship as a mathematical language as well as being incorporated into the film's signature theme). The score was recorded at Warner Bros. Scoring studios in Burbank, California. Williams was nominated for two Academy Awards in 1978, one for his score to Star Wars and one for his score to Close Encounters. He won for Star Wars.

The soundtrack album was released on vinyl album (with a gatefold sleeve), 8-track tape, and audio cassette by Arista Records in 1977, with a total running time of 41 minutes (it was later released on compact disc in 1990). The soundtrack album was a commercial success, peaking at #17 on the US Billboard album chart in February 1978 and was certified Gold by the RIAA for 1 million copies shipped.[13] It also peaked at #40 in the UK album charts.[14] Although not included on the original soundtrack album, a 7" single, "Theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind", was also released and was a chart hit, peaking at #13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in March 1978. The single was later included with the vinyl soundtrack album as a free bonus item, and added as a bonus track to the cassette. Track listing:
Side A:

  1. Main Title and Mountain Visions
  2. Nocturnal Pursuit
  3. The Abduction of Barry
  4. I can't Believe It's Real
  5. Climbing Devil's Tower
  6. The Arrival of Sky Harbor

Side B:

  1. Night Siege
  2. The Conversation
  3. The Appearance of the Visitors
  4. Resolution and End Titles
  5. Theme from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"†

1978 reissue - bonus track (cassette), free bonus 7" single (vinyl album).

Following the release of the "Collector's Edition" of the film in 1998, a new expanded soundtrack was released on compact disc by Arista. The "Collectors's Edition Soundtrack" was made using 20-bit digital remastering from the original tapes, and contained 26 tracks totalling 77 minutes of music. The CD also came with extensive liner notes including an interview with Williams. Cues were given new titles, and it also contained previously unreleased material, as well as material that was recorded but never used in the film. Track listing:

  1. Opening: Let There Be Light
  2. Navy Planes
  3. Lost Squadron
  4. Roy's First Encounter
  5. Encounter at Crescendo Summit
  6. Chasing UFOs
  7. False Alarm
  8. Barry's Kidnapping
  9. The Cover-Up
  10. Stars and Trucks
  11. Forming The Mountain
  12. TV Reveals
  13. Roy and Gillian on the Road
  14. The Mountain
  15. "Who Are You People?"
  16. The Escape
  17. The Escape (alternate cue)
  18. Trucking
  19. Climbing The Mountain
  20. Outstretch Hands
  21. Lightshow
  22. Barnstorming
  23. The Mothership
  24. Wild Signals
  25. The Returnees
  26. The Visitors / "Bye" / End Titles: The Special Edition

Themes

Film critic Charlene Engel observed Close Encounters "suggests that humankind has reached the point where it is ready to enter the community of the cosmos. While it is a computer interface which makes the final musical conversation with the alien guests possible, the characteristics bringing Neary to make his way to Devil's Tower have little to do with technical expertise or computer literacy. These are virtues taught in schools that will be evolved in the 21st century."[15] The film also evokes typical science fiction archetypes and motifs. The film portrays new technologies as a natural and expected outcome of human development and indication of health and growth.[15]

Other critics found a variety of Judeo-Christian analogies. Devil's Tower parallels Mount Sinai, the aliens as God and Roy Neary as Moses. Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments is seen on television at the Neary household. Some found close relations between Elijah and Roy; Elijah was taken into a "chariot of fire", akin to Roy going in the UFO. Climbing Devil's Tower behind Jillian and faltering, Neary exhorts Jillian to keep moving and not to look back, similar to Lot's wife who looked back at Sodom and turned into a pillar of salt.[15] Spielberg explained, "I wanted to make Close Encounters a very accessible story about the everyday individual who has a sighting that overturns his life, and throws it in to complete upheaval as he starts to become more and more obsessed with this experience."[12]

Roy's wife Ronnie attempts to hide the sunburn caused by Roy's exposure to the UFOs and wants him to forget his encounter with them. She is embarrassed and bewildered by what has happened to him and desperately wants her ordinary life back. The expression of his lost life is seen when he is sculpting a huge model of Devil's Tower in his living room, with his family deserting him.[15] Roy's obsession with an idea implanted by an alien intelligence, his construction of the model, and his gradual loss of contact with his wife, mimic the events in the short story "Dulcie and Decorum" (1955) by Damon Knight.

Close Encounters also studies the form of "youth spiritual yearning". Barry Guiler, the unfearing child who refers to the UFOs and their paraphernalia as "Toys", serves as a motif for childlike innocence and openness in the face of the unknown.[15] Spielberg also compared the theme of communication as highlighting that of tolerance. "If we can talk to aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind," he said, "why not with the Reds in the Cold War?"[16] Sleeping is the final obstacle to overcome in the ascent of Devil's Tower. Roy, Jillian Guiler and a third invitee climb the mountain pursued by government helicopters spraying sleeping gas. The third person stops to rest, is gassed, and falls into a deep sleep.[15]

In his interview with Spielberg on Inside the Actors Studio, James Lipton suggested Close Encounters had another, more personal theme for Spielberg: "Your father was a computer engineer; your mother was a concert pianist, and when the spaceship lands, they make music together on the computer", suggesting that Roy Neary's boarding the spaceship is Spielberg's wish to be reunited with his parents. In a 2005 interview, Spielberg stated that he made Close Encounters when he did not have children, and if he were making it today, he would never have had Neary leave his family and go on the mother ship.[17]

Release

The film was originally to be released in summer 1977, but was pushed back to November because of the various problems during production,[4] Upon its release, Close Encounters became a box office success, grossing $116.39 million in North America and $171.7 million in foreign countries, totaling $288 million.[18] It became Columbia Pictures' most successful film at that time.[12] Jonathan Rosenbaum refers to the film as "the best expression of Spielberg's benign, dreamy-eyed vision."[19] A.D. Murphy of Variety gave a positive review but felt "Close Encounters lacks the warmth and humanity of George Lucas's Star Wars". Murphy found most of the film slow-paced, but was highly impressed with the climax.[20] Pauline Kael called it "a kid's film in the best sense."[6] Jean Renoir compared Spielberg's storytelling to Jules Verne and Georges Méliès.[5] Ray Bradbury declared it the greatest science fiction film ever made.[21] Based on 39 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 95% ("Certified Fresh") of the reviewers have enjoyed the film and the site's consensus states "Close Encounters' most iconic bits (the theme, the mashed-potato sculpture, etc.) have been so thoroughly absorbed into the culture that it's easy to forget that its treatment of aliens as peaceful beings rather than warmongering monsters was somewhat groundbreaking in 1977."[22]

Spielberg's 1998 Collector's Edition was given a limited release as part of a roadshow featuring select films to celebrate Columbia Pictures' 75th anniversary in 1999. It was the first and only time this version of the film has been shown theatrically.

Reissue and home video

On the final cut privilege, Spielberg was dissatisfied with the film. "Columbia Pictures was experiencing financial problems, and they were depending on this film to save their company. "I wanted to have another six months to finish off this film, and release it in summer 1978. They told me they needed this film out immediately," Spielberg explained. "Anyway, Close Encounters was a huge financial success and I told them I wanted to make my own director's cut. They agreed on the condition that I show the inside of the mother ship so they could have something to hang a [reissue marketing] campaign on. I never should have shown the inside of the mother ship."[2] In 1979, Columbia gave Spielberg $1.5 million to produce what would become the "Special Edition" of the film. Spielberg added seven minutes of new footage, but also deleted or shortened various scenes so that the Special Edition ended up three minutes shorter than the original 1977 release.[5]

The Special Edition featured several new character development scenes, the discovery of the SS Cotopaxi in the Gobi Desert, and a view of the inside of the mothership. Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Special Edition was released in August 1980, making a further $15.7 million, accumulating a final $303.7 million box office gross.[5][18] Roger Ebert "thought the original film was an astonishing achievement, capturing the feeling of awe and wonder we have when considering the likelihood of life beyond the Earth. This new version is quite simply a better film. Why didn't Spielberg make it this good the first time?"[23]

In 1998, Spielberg recut Close Encounters again for what would become the "Collector's Edition," to be released on home video and laserdisc. This version of the film is something of a re-edit of the original 1977 release with some elements of the 1980 Special Edition, but omits the mothership interior scenes which Spielberg felt should have remained a mystery. The laserdisc edition also includes a new 101-minute documentary, The Making of Close Encounters, which was produced in 1997 and features interviews with Spielberg, the main cast, and notable crew members. There have also been many other alternate versions of the film for network and syndicated television, as well as a previous LaserDisc version. Some of these even combined all released material from the 1977 and 1980 versions, but none of these versions were edited by Spielberg, who regards the "Collector's Edition" as his definitive version of Close Encounters.

The film was released on DVD in June 2001 as a two-disc set that contained the "Collector's Edition".[24] The second disc contained a wealth of extra features including the 101-minute "Making Of" documentary from 1997, a featurette from 1977, trailers, and deleted scenes that included, among other things, the mothership interiors from the 1980 Special Edition. James Berardinelli felt "Close Encounters is still unquestionably a great movie. Its universal appeal gave movie-goers something to be excited about during 1977–78 as the first in a wave of post-Star Wars science fiction films broke. Today, the movie stands up remarkably well. The story is fresh and compelling, the special effects are as remarkable as anything that CGI can do, and the music represents some of John Williams' best work."[25] Emanuel Levy also gave a highly-positive review. "Spielberg's greatest achievement is to make a warm, likable sci-fi feature, deviating in spirit, tone and ideology from the dark, noirish sci-fi films that dominated the 1950s and Cold War mentality. He ultimately succeeded."[26]

Close Encounters was given a second DVD release and a Blu-ray Disc release in November 2007. Released for the film's 30th anniversary, the set contained all three official versions of the film from 1977, 1980, and 1998 and a new interview with Spielberg, who talks about the film's impact 30 years after its release. The set also includes the 1977 featurette, various trailers, and the 1997 "Making Of" documentary – though this is now split over three discs rather than as a single feature as with the 2001 DVD release. In addition to these features, the 2-disc Blu-ray set also included storyboard-to-scene comparisons, an extensive photo gallery, and a "View from Above: Editor's Fact track" highlighting the different scenes in each version of the movie.

Legacy

Shortly after the film's release in late 1977, Spielberg desired to do either a sequel or prequel, before deciding against it. He explained, "The army's knowledge and ensuing cover-up is so subterranean that it would take a creative screen story, perhaps someone else making the picture and giving it the equal time it deserves."[10]

The film was nominated for nine Oscars at the 50th Academy Awards, including Direction, Supporting Actress (Melinda Dillon), Visual Effects, Art Direction (Joe Alves, Daniel A. Lomino, Phil Abramson), Original Music Score, Film Editing, and Sound (Robert Knudson, Robert Glass, Don MacDougall and Gene Cantamessa).[27] The film's only win was for Vilmos Zsigmond's cinematography, although the Academy honored the film's sound effects editing with a Special Achievement Award.[28] At the 32nd British Academy Film Awards, Close Encounters won Best Production Design, and was nominated for Best Film, Direction, Screenplay, Actor in a Supporting Role (François Truffaut), Music, Cinematography, Editing, and Sound.[29]

Close Encounters lost the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation to Star Wars,[30] but was successful at the Saturn Awards. There, the film tied with Star Wars for Direction and Music, but won Best Writing. Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon and the visual effects department received nominations. Close Encounters was nominated for Best Science Fiction Film.[31] The film received four more nominations at the 35th Golden Globe Awards.[32]

When asked in 1990 to select a single "master image" that summed up his film career, Spielberg chose the shot of Barry opening his living room door to see the blazing orange light from the UFO. "That was beautiful but awful light, just like fire coming through the doorway. [Barry's] very small, and it's a very large door, and there's a lot of promise or danger outside that door."[6] In 2007, Close Encounters was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress, and was added to the National Film Registry for preservation.[33] In American Film Institute polls, Close Encounters has been voted the 64th greatest film of all time,[34] 31st most heart-pounding,[35] and 58th most inspiring.[36] Additionally, the film was nominated for the top 10 science fiction films in AFI's 10 Top 10[37] and the tenth anniversary edition of the 100 Movies list.[38] The score by John Williams was nominated for AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores.[39]

Alongside Star Wars and Superman, Close Encounters led to the reemergence of science fiction films.[40][41] In 1985 Spielberg donated $100,000 to the Planetary Society for Megachannel ExtraTerrestrial Assay.[3] In the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker the five-note sequence is heard when a scientist punches the combination into an electronic door lock. In the South Park episode "Imaginationland", a government scientist uses the five-note sequence to try to open a portal.[42] In "Over Logging", a government scientist uses the five-note sequence to try to get the central Internet router working.[43] The "mashed potato" sculpture was parodied in the film UHF,[44] the film Canadian Bacon, an episode of Spaced, an episode of The X-Files, an episode of That 70's Show, and an episode of The Simpsons.[45] The "headlights passing the parked truck by going straight up" sequence was parodied in an episode of Flo.

American Film Institute Lists

  • AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies - #64
  • AFI's 100 Years…100 Thrills - #31
  • AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores - Nominated
  • AFI's 100 Years…100 Cheers - #58
  • AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated
  • AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Science Fiction Film

In 2011, ABC aired a primetime special, Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time that counted down the best movies chosen by fans based on results of a poll conducted by ABC and People. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was selected as the #5 Best Sci-Fi Film.

References

Notes

  1. ^ "Librarian of Congress Announces National Film Registry Selections for 2007" (Press release). Library of Congress. December 27, 2007. http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2007/07-254.html. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Joe Alves, Melinda Dillon, Douglas Trumbull, The Making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1997, Columbia Pictures
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l McBride, p.260–269
  4. ^ a b c d McBride, p.280–289
  5. ^ a b c d McBride, p.290–294
  6. ^ a b c McBride, p.14–68
  7. ^ a b c d e McBride, p.227–229
  8. ^ David Helpern (March 1974). "At Sea with Steven Spielberg". Take One: pp. 47–53. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i McBride, p.270–279
  10. ^ a b Steve Poster (January 1978). "The Mind Behind Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Film Comment: pp. 23–29. 
  11. ^ Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic Film, Ray Morton, 2007, Applause Books.
  12. ^ a b c DVD production notes
  13. ^ RIAA - Gold & Platinum Certifications (searchable database)
  14. ^ UK Charts Stats (Close Encounters soundtrack)
  15. ^ a b c d e f Charlene Engel (2002). "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". The Films of Steven Spielberg. Scarecrow Press. pp. 45–56. ISBN 0-8108-4182-7. 
  16. ^ Richard Schickel (interviewer) (2007-07-09). Spielberg on Spielberg. Turner Classic Movies. 
  17. ^ "Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg on "War of the Worlds"". Cinema Confidential. 2005-06-28. http://www.cinecon.com/news.php?id=0506281. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  18. ^ a b "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=closeencountersofthethirdkind.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  19. ^ Jonathan Rosenbaum. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Chicago Reader. http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/close-encounters-of-the-third-kind/Film?oid=1068469. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  20. ^ A.D. Murphy (1977-11-09). "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Variety. http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=Variety100&reviewid=VE1117789972&content=jump&jump=review&category=1935&cs=1&p=0. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  21. ^ "A Viewers' Guide To Sci-Fi's Greatest Hits". Entertainment Weekly. 1994-12-02. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,304743,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  22. ^ "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/close_encounters_of_the_third_kind/. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  23. ^ Roger Ebert (1980-01-01). "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19800101/REVIEWS/1010309/1023. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  24. ^ "Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (1977)". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Close-Encounters-Third-Two-Disc-Collectors/dp/B00003CX9G. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  25. ^ "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". James Berardinelli. http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=166. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  26. ^ "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Emanuel Levy.com. http://www.emanuellevy.com/search/details.cfm?id=7569. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  27. ^ "The 50th Academy Awards (1978) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/legacy/ceremony/50th-winners.html. Retrieved 2011-10-05. 
  28. ^ Thackrey Jr, Ted (1978-04-04). "Top Oscars Go to Dreyfuss, Diane Keaton, Annie Hall". Los Angeles Times. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/641736812.html?dids=641736812:641736812&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=Apr+04%2C+1978&author=&pub=Los+Angeles+Times&desc=Top+Oscars+Go+to+Dreyfuss%2C+Diane+Keaton%2C+%27Annie+Hall%27&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  29. ^ "32nd British Academy Film Awards". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. http://www.bafta.org/awards/film/nominations/?year=1978. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  30. ^ "1978 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/1978-hugo-awards/. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  31. ^ "Past Saturn Awards". Saturn Awards. http://www.saturnawards.org/past.html. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  32. ^ "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. http://www.goldenglobes.org/browse/film/23864. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  33. ^ "National Film Registry: 1989–2007". National Film Registry. http://www.loc.gov/film/nfrchron.html. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  34. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on April 3, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070403094338/http://www.afi.com/tvevents/100years/movies.aspx. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  35. ^ "America's Most Heart-Pounding Movies" (PDF). American Film Institute. http://www.afi.com/Docs/tvevents/pdf/thrills100.pdf. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  36. ^ "America's Most Uplifting Movies" (PDF). American Film Institute. http://www.afi.com/docs/tvevents/pdf/cheers100.pdf. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  37. ^ AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
  38. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
  39. ^ AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Ballot
  40. ^ Ilya Salkind, Pierre Spengler, Superman DVD audio commentary, 2006, Warner Home Video
  41. ^ John Culhane (1982-07-04). "Special Effects Are Revolutionizing Film". The New York Times. 
  42. ^ "Imaginationland". Trey Parker, Matt Stone. South Park. 2007-10-17. No. 1110, season 11.
  43. ^ "Over Logging". Trey Parker, Matt Stone. South Park. 2008-04-16. No. 1206, season 12.
  44. ^ "Weird Al" Yankovic, UHF DVD audio commentary, 2002, MGM Home Entertainment
  45. ^ "Homie the Clown". John Swartzwelder (writer), David Silverman (director). The Simpsons. 1995-02-12. No. 118, season 6.

Bibliography

  • Joseph McBride (1997). Steven Spielberg: A Biography. New York City: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-19177-0. 

Further reading

  • Ray Morton (1 November 2007). Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Making of Steven Spielberg's Classic Film. Applause Theatre and Cinema Books. ISBN 978-1557837103. 
  • Bob Balaban (2002). Spielberg, Truffaut & Me: Close Encounters of the Third Kind - An Actor's Diary. Titan Books. ISBN 978-1840234305. 
  • Leslie Waller (ghostwriter) (1977). Close Encounters of the Third Kind. novelization of the film. Del Pub. ISBN 978-0440114338. 

External links


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