The five notes! That’s what everyone hears in their head when they think of 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Yes I’m comfortable speaking for all humanity… wouldn’t be the first time 😉 This movie is one of my all time favorites for so many reasons other than it’s another chance to play “spot Lance Henriksen” which you all know is one of my favorite pastimes.
Close Encounters might just be my favorite Steven Speilberg movie to date. I’m always back and forth with this and Jaws. Ironically both movies star Richard Dreyfuss and he’s just great in both as he is in just about everything that dude has done. Let’s all have a moment of general murmuring for the achievements of Mr. Richard Dreyfuss… “murrmur, murrrrrr, murmmmmm, etc., etc.”. Very good. Now…
CEOTK was probably the first alien encounter movie to really capture the feel of real life. Most the sci-fi movies to this point on abduction were very “movie-like”. What I mean to say is that you “knew” you were watching a performance. CEOTK took us into the life of Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), his wife Ronnie Neary (Teri Garr), and their kids. It’s a great watch to this day even just to see the very realistic portrayal of “Joe Working Man” in the 70’s.
CEOTK actually starts out by telling another parallel story to Roy’s. A story about a group of scientists from all different backgrounds that are studying the strange explainable appearances of items like boats, planes, etc. in impossible places like the middle of the remote desert. A Frenchman named Claude Lacombe (François Truffaut) is one of the lead scientists that is attempting to incorporate the Kodály form of sign language as a means of communication with the suspected intelligence responsible. He is taken much more seriously once an American cartographer David Laughlin (Bob Balaban) figures out that the response is actually map coordinates. This sets the rest of the film in motion towards the eventual “Close Encounters” between the scientists and the aliens.
Now, getting back to Roy and his family. Roy is an electric company lineman that is out on a call one night when suddenly in a remote area of the country he has his own close encounter. In a classic scene where the headlights of what you think is a car behind him actually go up instead of around him, he bares witness to a UFO and is subsequently “brain-scanned” with a bright light, leaving his face half sun burned. From this moment on Roy starts feeling drawn to a geographical place that he does not know and he doesn’t know why. He’s also not alone in these feelings. Jillian Guiler (Melinda Dillon) and her son Barry (Cary Guffey) are also “touched” by an encounter. In fact Barry is abducted soon after and Jillian eventually meets Roy on their journey towards appeasing the mutual compulsion they both are feeling.
At this point, you’re on your own. Anything more and I’m spoiling it and that’s not what these posts are about. Hopefully if you’ve never seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind you’ll give it a shot. It’s got some great performances from Richard Dreyfuss and Teri Garr, so good in fact you’d think they’re actually married and living together the way they fight in this flick, just great and nice to see someone else in a domestic squabble besides my girl and myself (shhh, don’t tell her I said that 😉 ). The effects and production were way ahead of the curve as well for the time not to mention the flick has an awesome soundtrack provided by the great John Williams. I highly recommend CEOTK and hope you enjoy the film. Make sure to give your rating below!