Science Fiction has been a part of my life since birth. From my early introduction to Star Trek to my love of the Alien series it has been in and around me for as long as I can remember. However, it was when science fiction and reality began to overlap that, as a kid, I began to ask the age old question, are we alone in the universe? Enter: Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Today’s Key Movie:
This is the film classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a film about what happens when we come in contact with beings from beyond our solar system.
Ray Nearly (Richard Dryfuss) is a family man who stumbles into an encounter with a UFO that leads him in a dogged pursuit of a truth no one else wants to believe. Through his journey, he finds other like himself and a government who wants to suppress the most historical event in the world.
Why this movie?
It was sometime in the late 80’s, I had become a huge fan of everything scifi related seeking out any and every film and tv series I could get my hands on. Unsolved Mysteries quickly became an obsession with Robert Stack telling us about interesting events but it was the Paranormal episodes that I found the most intriguing. Soon, my father introduced me to one of Stephen Spielberg’s most thought provoking films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Having already seen strange things I could not explain, this film is one of the many stories that really opened my eyes to the nature of Aliens and the real possibility of alien life outside of our solar system. It’s depiction of this phenomenon both frightened and intrigued me leading me to read books such as Whitley Strieber’s Communion series (which scared the bejeezus out of me), Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods and many more. From that time on, I found myself following the mantra of Fox Mulder, ‘I Want To Believe’.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
There are films and there are masterpieces, this one is one of the later. In a day and age when cg effects cover most films from start to finish, Spielberg was able to create the most ominous and interesting atmosphere using mostly sound and lights coupled with limited visual effects and a tremendous cast. It is through this cast that we really find an emotional tie with the story as we watch Roy Neary (Richard Dryfuss) in his mental collapse from responsible father figure to Alien obsessed mad man. Following his story, it is maddening to see that, while we know he is right in his beliefs, those around him make him feel insane due to their inability to comprehend the unknown.
From the very start of the film there is no doubt that these aliens exist and through the rest of the film it only gets more and more apparent that something big is going to happen. Spielberg and crew do an incredible job using special effects techniques utilizing sound and lights in a way that build the tension of the oncoming event while mixing these intense moments with blatant events ensuring the viewers that Neary and his friend Jillian (played by Melinda Dillon) are truly not insane in their mission to find the truth.
Everyone in this film, from Dryfuss’ portrayal of the obsessed Neary to his estranged wife played by Terri Garr do a wonderful job in their roles giving a gravitas to the scifi nature of the film making anyone with any doubt a believer in extraterrestrial life. Even the government agents attempting to cover up the oncoming contact with these beings are believable in every way.
The work of the amazing cast and incredible special effects are only enhanced by the wonderful score by Spielberg’s constant musical partner, John Williams. Williams’ score gives the film it’s substance creating an overall sense of wonder and dread while incorporating elements of the story into the actual music. Not many films can do it, but you know this film with just five very specific notes.
Overall, this is an instant classic. Whether you watch the Theatrical, Special Edition or Directors cut of the film (I prefer the latter), it is one of the finest of it’s time and is practically required viewing for any self proclaimed film nut. If you like science fiction, extraterrestrials, or just a good Spielberg story, this one is absolutely for you.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This is one that will likely never go out of print. You can grab a copy here on bluray for a around $10 but there are other editions out there that have many more features. You can also find this one on pretty much any digital service you can think of and the High Definition transfer looks incredible.
As usual, here is the original trailer:
Late To The Game 10/24/2019
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
For more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here. and, If you dig Music, I have a semi regular series called Stand Out Albums that covers some of my favorite records I have come across in life.
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!