The Close Encounters of The Third Kind Thread

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Phoo! Put them here! Discuss the giant living room sculpture, discuss the character design, just plunk down your Spielbergian balls here, talk about how this is his greatest film evah!

x j e r e m y (x Jeremy), Wednesday, 28 July 2004 11:20 (nineteen years ago) link

he claimed he wrote it all himself but other people had a hand in it*

there are all manner of 'anti' sentiments in criticism from the era, going on that it has no sympathy for the wife, is basically a little overgrown skoolboy's fantasy film, is all about men not being able to confront grown up problems and returning to the womb/childhood etc.

but no i fckng love it and i always have.

* extensively covered by j phillips in 'YNELITTA'

piscesboy, Wednesday, 28 July 2004 11:47 (nineteen years ago) link

* also see Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

I should really go back and watch this again. It's been ages since my last viewing.

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 28 July 2004 13:31 (nineteen years ago) link

I HATE the changes in "The Special Edition," particularly going inside the ship (I think it was Pauline Kael who wrote it just looks like a '30s movie palace). Is the original cut even viewable on DVD?

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 3 August 2004 13:46 (nineteen years ago) link

nine months pass...
having seen the 1997 'collectors' dvd recently i really want a version of the 80's 'special edition' without all the garden-wrecking. it appears to turn the whole thing into a farce and play stuff for cheap laughs after so many beautiful, subtle, realistic moments. takes ages for the film to get the mood back afterwards. can't *believe* that spielberg *actually* went back on the original 'special edition' which had that stuff chopped out and
...PUT IT BACK IN!! the madness!

piscesboy, Wednesday, 1 June 2005 14:14 (eighteen years ago) link

is all about men not being able to confront grown up problems and returning to the womb/childhood etc

dood this is the theme of every great/bad/indifferent spielberg film! what's amazing about spielberg is how he gets closer to more amazingly devastating realizations in his films than many art film directors could even hope for, but he always swerves away at the last second (except for AI where he goes right on through it to a completely strange and new place)).

ryan (ryan), Wednesday, 1 June 2005 14:46 (eighteen years ago) link

I like all the garden wrecking; it makes Dreyfuss' obsession way more interesting, and his family plausibly frightened. Hate the Special Edition going inside the ship, always have.

First saw it at the Ziegfeld Theater, October 1977.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 1 June 2005 14:52 (eighteen years ago) link

I like traffic lights
I like traffic lights
I like traffic lights
I like traffic lights

The Sensational Sulk (sexyDancer), Wednesday, 1 June 2005 15:06 (eighteen years ago) link

First saw it at the Ziegfeld Theater, October 1977.

-- Dr Morbius (wjwe...), June 1st, 2005

you show off! how was it??! did people clap and such throughout? i would have done. i was almost clapping on my own watching the dvd.

of course the ship in the Gobi scene also justifies the SPECIAL EDITION for me.

yeah i sort of thought that ryan, about the big issues of spielberg fims i mean.

piscesboy, Wednesday, 1 June 2005 15:10 (eighteen years ago) link

I liked Duel better, and that episode of amazing stories
where KITT, Arnold Drumond, and The Incredible Hulk were brought
to life by a magic TV.

fredbeech, Wednesday, 1 June 2005 23:22 (eighteen years ago) link

and that episode of amazing stories
where KITT, Arnold Drumond, and The Incredible Hulk were brought
to life by a magic TV.
-- fredbeech (fre...), June 2nd, 2005.


piscesboy, Thursday, 2 June 2005 09:38 (eighteen years ago) link

>how was it??! did people clap and such throughout?<

Yep, I imagine so. (Nothing as memorable as the prolonged boot-stomping ovation the opening night biker audience gave "The Road Warrior," tho.) Then as now, so much more engaging than STAR WARS.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 2 June 2005 14:17 (eighteen years ago) link

I think I saw one of those Road Warrior fans with his "mamma" at a showing of Straw Dogs at the Walter Reade.

Ken L (Ken L), Thursday, 2 June 2005 14:24 (eighteen years ago) link

six years pass...

soooooooooo good.

caek, Sunday, 28 August 2011 15:47 (twelve years ago) link

you should watch this film tonight

caek, Sunday, 28 August 2011 15:47 (twelve years ago) link

Was planning on seeing this the other week at a mini-Spielberg revival at the local theater but it slipped my mind. I have it on BluRay but haven't watched it yet. Tonight might be the night. It's been years.

circa1916, Sunday, 28 August 2011 16:50 (twelve years ago) link

Something pretty dark about the fact that Dreyfuss and the film completely forget about his wife and children.

circa1916, Sunday, 28 August 2011 22:06 (twelve years ago) link

Did I miss something?

circa1916, Sunday, 28 August 2011 22:07 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

"Is that it? Is that all you're gonna ask me? Well I got a couple of thousand goddamn questions, you know. I want to speak to someone in charge. I want to lodge a complaint. You have no right to make people crazy! You think I investigate every Walter Cronkite story there is? Huh? come I know everything in such detail? I've never been here before. How come I know so much? What the hell is going on around here? Who the hell are you people?!"

piscesx, Sunday, 16 June 2013 03:18 (ten years ago) link

three months pass...
two years pass...

Saw the '97/98? edition described above by piscesboy in 35mm last week. Almost certainly my favorite of Spielberg's 'early' period (let's say everything til E.T.).

I like this analysis by V Rizov, including his borderline amazement that the Tv was always on in the '70s. I was there; it was, pretty much. Also "Dreyfuss' sense of nullity in his own house."

we can be heroes just for about 3.6 seconds (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 26 April 2016 20:44 (seven years ago) link

one year passes...

So this theatrical reissue coming up - 4K restoration yadda yadda, I'm in, I'm stoked, haven't seen this since I was a kid. But which version is it??!

yellow is the color of some raisins (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 29 August 2017 03:13 (six years ago) link

Don't know (as I didn't know about the theatrical rerelease), but the upcoming 4k blu-ray contains all three cuts.

Always Be Cropdusting (Old Lunch), Tuesday, 29 August 2017 03:35 (six years ago) link

There was more traffic from people trying to get into Devil's Tower last week than there was from anything eclipse related.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 29 August 2017 03:54 (six years ago) link

I am going to see this tonight :D :D :D

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 6 September 2017 22:55 (six years ago) link

Love my 35th Anniversary blu-ray of this and love this film. All 3 versions are on here as well. Think I'll watch the original release version tonight.

Acid Hose (Capitaine Jay Vee), Thursday, 7 September 2017 00:18 (six years ago) link

mr veg said it's the special edition version (not sure which # version that is)

it's the version that shows all the aliums and dreyfuss joining the red team to go aboard at the end

i'd never seen that version so i was like "ok what the..."

still the 4K is fuckin BEAUTIFUL and i legit teared up over some scenes

<3 this movie forever

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 7 September 2017 03:57 (six years ago) link

i was born in the '70s and i saw this for the first time last weekend! it was really enjoyable and i liked the scenes about musical communication a lot.
before i saw it, i thought it was about a spaceship that crashed into a house.

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 7 September 2017 04:22 (six years ago) link

the music stuff is so great ... and pretty hip for spielberg imo

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 7 September 2017 04:33 (six years ago) link

it seemed surprisingly modern. reminded me of arrival!

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Thursday, 7 September 2017 04:39 (six years ago) link

going this weekend for sure, excited!

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 7 September 2017 04:44 (six years ago) link

xpost yeah Villeneuve is a big fan!!

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 7 September 2017 05:03 (six years ago) link

it's the version that shows all the aliums and dreyfuss joining the red team to go aboard at the end

wait, isn't this... every version?

just the hell w/ going inside the ship is all i say

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 7 September 2017 16:04 (six years ago) link


then I'm old & addled, i never thought dreyfuss went on the ship until later versions

i guess i dreamed a 4th version VEG CUT lol

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 7 September 2017 16:28 (six years ago) link

Because I was curious, too:

In 1979, Columbia gave Spielberg $1.5 million to produce what became the "Special Edition" of the film. Spielberg added seven minutes of new footage, but also deleted or shortened various existing scenes by a total of ten minutes, so that the Special Edition was three minutes shorter than the original 1977 release.[10] 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.


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 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 early Truffaut scenes were the only ones I remembered not being in the original.

Higgs Bosom (Old Lunch), Thursday, 7 September 2017 16:33 (six years ago) link

look my version is way better, i'm telling ya

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 7 September 2017 16:40 (six years ago) link

man what a terrific movie

Doctor Casino, Friday, 15 September 2017 06:49 (six years ago) link

Amen to that

Acid Hose (Capitaine Jay Vee), Friday, 15 September 2017 12:59 (six years ago) link

got genuine chills the first time they're by the side of the road, right after neary almost runs over barry, and the aliens just... fly by. nothing more to it than that but the inherent sublimity and impossibility and excitement of the moment is all there. some strangers, the night sky, and the witnessing of something impossible and yet self-evidently wonderful.

setting aside neary ultimately abandoning his family on earth for a space trip, length unknown (see also interstellar), which the edited cuts try to justify a bit more by showing more of how the home life disintegrates, the one thing that jumps out in 2017 is how little of jillian's story is really told after barry's abduction. it's dreyfuss's movie, and he's incredible, but you'd think the story of a parent trying to get her kid back has so much inherent interest that we'd spend a little more time on it. but watching a guy obsessively, painfully follow a vision that he can't even describe or understand (aka a film director I assume) is also inherently interesting i admit.

incredible effects, just right performances. love the mise-en-scene. the ranch house life is even more convincing and naturalistic than in e.t. so small and visually cluttered but full of life. if the opening scene with balaban and truffaut and the biplanes in the desert weren't enough to bring me on board, the middle kid smashing the hell out of a doll for no reason in the background while dreyfuss and garr talk about something else in the foreground would've done it.

Doctor Casino, Friday, 15 September 2017 13:38 (six years ago) link

one year passes...


flappy bird, Thursday, 5 September 2019 06:54 (four years ago) link

I was 8 when this came out and as such it’s inscrutably iconic in many ways. Also the aliens filled me with living terror - the one which comes out and does the hand jive and that flesh creeping smile gave me literal nightmares. I don’t find it frightening now but I have a vivid memory of how the fear felt.
It’s a scruffy 70s movie and I live it for that. Also Teri Garr is awesome in it.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Thursday, 5 September 2019 08:22 (four years ago) link

*love it for that

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Thursday, 5 September 2019 08:23 (four years ago) link

Yes, this gave me the absolute willies as a kid

Glad to see you didn't find it boring, flappy, unlike the low-attention span m-f-ers in the other thread.

Time to Make a Pizza Pact! (Old Lunch), Thursday, 5 September 2019 12:00 (four years ago) link

There was a brief spell between loving this as a youngster and loving this as a 'mature' adult when I got all sniffy about this film's putative genre, as there didn't seem to be much 'sci' in the sci-fi. I'm glad I eventually relaxed my crack and learned to enjoy the magic.

Time to Make a Pizza Pact! (Old Lunch), Thursday, 5 September 2019 12:09 (four years ago) link

two months pass...

just watched the film with our eight yr old, who loved it. it remains a really astonishing film throughout, though i had a bit of trouble at first figuring out which version i saw. i think it's a slightly more definitive one, with the interior of the spaceship at the end not shown, but the scenes w/Neary melting down in his yard and the discovery of the boat in the desert remaining. What stood out to me more than anything were the domestic scenes, which were intense and particularly real in a way that surprised me (it's been years since i've seen it). Neary's oldest son seeing him sitting clothed in the shower and slamming the bathroom door closed over and over and calling him a crybaby, the youngest son helping pull out chicken wire from the neighbor's yard and Ronnie running over and threatening to hit him if he doesn't stop, the sheer mess of the house *before* it all goes to shit later, Ronnie answering the phone and talking (flirting?) w/Neary's boss and fidgeting with her wedding ring, and yes the TV on all the time.

also the horror movie elements, which are used so diabolically w/the scene where Barry is taken by the aliens, and the scene is legitimately scary. And this works well, since at this point in the film we have no idea if these aliens are friendly or a bit sinister.

also appreciate the almost complete lack of outlandish villains. the military guys obviously use some pretty duplicitous methods to lock down the area and keep the real story from getting out, let alone allowing anyone near the site, and they're not "good guys", but it's more like a foundational opposition, that's just their baseline, and they don't want to hurt people they would just prefer to keep it quiet. it's an only somewhat cynical portrayal but it rings true, and it doesn't tip over into some kind of sadistic villainy.

The acting is pretty superb throughout, Dreyfuss is good and funny and moving, Teri Garr is excellent, Truffaut (this was my first exposure to him as a kid) is really perfect for the role, and it's another Melinda Dillon performance that reminds me why every single time i've ever seen her in anything she made a major impression. She fully inhabits every character she plays in a low-key non-demonstrative manner.

also appreciate the symmetry w/Raiders of the Lost Ark: our questing hero obsessed and traversing a continent, captured near the end by a Frenchman and some military guys, who manages to witness some freaky shit with his female counterpart at night at a remote base nestled in some rocky mountainside, set up specifically to document/welcome the arrival of some unknown creatures.

omar little, Monday, 2 December 2019 18:52 (four years ago) link

otm throughout, and wow at that last paragraph!

Doctor Casino, Monday, 2 December 2019 22:14 (four years ago) link

damn omar

everytime you write about a movie i love i wanna watch it again right away - but this is one of your best <3

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 3 December 2019 02:58 (four years ago) link

What stood out to me more than anything were the domestic scenes, which were intense and particularly real in a way that surprised me

Agree, I think it's a Spielberg fingerprint as I had similar reactions to domestic scenes in Jaws and Poltergeist.

The whole selection of night time ufo chase scenes at the beginning knocked me sideways as a child. Love this movie.

I watched it a few years ago and was interrupted by the gas meter reading guy, the scene from the desert was showing and he moaned about how unrealistic the helicopter appearing over the hill was because it made no sound. Shut up and get out of my house, (I wish I'd have said)

In space, pizza sends out for YOU (Ste), Tuesday, 3 December 2019 08:53 (four years ago) link

*deadpan* Quickly Brad there are thousands of lives at stake

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 3 December 2019 14:17 (four years ago) link

Dillon had quite a streak b/w this film and A Christmas Story.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 3 December 2019 14:19 (four years ago) link

That’s very kind of you’re a saint!

Strangely the character I’ve recently seen who reminds me most of Neary is maybe Miller from The Expanse, a similarly blue-collar type operating under a very different more noir detective form of existential misery, who also gets “imprinted” in a sense and basically abandons his life for what may very well be a one-way ticket to the unknown.

omar little, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 17:58 (four years ago) link

yeah that is a good parallel

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 3 December 2019 19:38 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

rewatched today

still fantastic, still makes me laugh and i still get very teary towards the end

literally everyone in front of & behind the camera doing THE MOST in the best way, so inspiring imo


i def would love to rewrite the ending where he doesnt just “goodbye cruel world” & get on the ufo?
it’s such a bummer.
spielberg said he would never have ended it that way once he was married & had kids, like it was totally a “single guy” ending. i dont have kids but it just feels kinda shitty now to watch as a grownup.
i wish there was a way he somehow dragged his scared wife & kids to the devil mountain & they all saw it together & saw lil barry come home & just SEEING it all & experiencinh together as a family was somehow enough

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 13 June 2021 04:09 (two years ago) link

the living room sculpture is the Best Thing Ever™️

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 13 June 2021 04:10 (two years ago) link

yeah as a kid I thought oh yes, it's obviously time to go with the aliens duh. And now when I watch it I think WHAT? you're going WHERE?

assert (matttkkkk), Sunday, 13 June 2021 04:48 (two years ago) link

yeah its v jarring now

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 13 June 2021 05:01 (two years ago) link

yeah all that is bizarre. VERY single guy, also very mid-life-crisis guy (aliens as young hot affair versus the everyday borrrringness of, you know, your WIFE AND CHILDREN) and also very 70s - the whole vibe of "i've finally found what i've been looking for this last decade, i've finally discovered who I really am" --- insert religious awakenings (including born-again stuff, cults, New Age stuff), but other stuff too i think. i had to take it as a period piece for it to really work, but it's also that spielberg's momentum and the enveloping interest of the story *really* work to suppress the existence of his family for the last act or whatever.

i really like the idea of them just witnessing/sharing it being enough. i do think the ragged open-endedness and wrongness of neary's choice do kinda makes the film stick in my brain more.... the version where he goes back to his family and things are better now could easily turn out way too tidy, esp given the sentimental family itch spielberg would sometimes end up scratching later on. i guess e.t. is a version of that ending and i find that to be a profound and devastating film so maybe he coulda pulled it off.

what would maybe be most distinctive is for the family to show up, screaming at him to come back, come back, but he just keeps strolling right up into that spaceship. get a good look kids, that was your daddy... like acknowledge the darkness of this within the film and leave us sitting with it rather than have it be something that hits you later on. not sure if that's better though.

Bobo Honk, real name, no gimmicks (Doctor Casino), Sunday, 13 June 2021 15:38 (two years ago) link

yeah having the family be somehow party to his choice to leave would be good

like yeah ok sure roy you can leave but your family will banshee-wail on the sidelines to really hammer it home for you

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 13 June 2021 18:09 (two years ago) link

I watched ET last night - man that ending still fucks me up w all the crying (me + cast)
but i should have waited a week or two after watching Close Encounters, which i watched that afternoon. ET felt ~too~ childish by comparison which bummed me out & made me feel like a Grown Up™️ - do not recommend lol

(my point being that it never bothered me before, not that ET is a dumb kids movie or not good or whatever)

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 13 June 2021 22:25 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

wait a second: the landing site is a movie set

difficult listening hour, Friday, 11 August 2023 08:18 (six months ago) link

(as is the nazis' ark-opening installation, referenced by omar above)

difficult listening hour, Friday, 11 August 2023 08:19 (six months ago) link

Only found out the other day that Jerry Garcia can be glimpsed as an extra in one of the Close Encounters crowd scenes:

In Dharmsala, India, Lacombe and the other researchers arrive to a chaotic scene. Crowds of people are running through the streets, and others, including Jerry Garcia (really), are sitting and reverently chanting 5 musical notes.

And there's also this:

Ward Fowler, Friday, 11 August 2023 08:29 (six months ago) link

Not to get all #onethread up in here, but was reminded this week that one of the many things that screwed Friedkin up post-Sorcerer was he had to scrap a long-gestating SciFi project because it was too much like Close Encounters.

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