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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

 
 
 

Aliens Captured My Attention

It was like an ice-cream cone - Roy

Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Power company technician Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is sent to investigate a mysterious blackout but finds himself having an alien encounter. It affects this family man as he starts having strange visions of an unusual looking mountain which he tries to recreate with stuff which is lying about. Roy is not the only one who has had an encounter of another kind as Jillian Guiler (Melinda Dillon) and her young son Barry (Cary Guffey) also find themselves visited with Jillian finding herself drawing the same strange mountain which Roy keeps on seeing. With Roy's marriage in tatters because of his obsession with the encounter and the mountain he hits the road with Jillian heading to this location joining up with Claude Lacombe (François Truffaut) a serious UFO expert who is preparing to make first contact.

As per usual I have put off watching Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" because it is a hugely popular movie from a few decades back and I feared might not be as impressive when watched for the first time now. Happily I can report my fears were unfounded as if you excuse the pun Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is out of this world with fantastic effects, entertaining performances and a storyline which draws you in to what is going on. But having said that I have to say that "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" isn't going to be for everyone because it doesn't serve the story up on the plate, you have to watch, pay attention and digest what you are watching.

Melinda Dillon and Cary Guffey in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

The daftest thing is that Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is not complicated in the least as after a curious opening scene involving Bob Balaban as David Laughlin and looking even more like Richard Dreyfuss than ever we get to family man and goofy golf lover Roy. What follows is Roy's encounter with an alien spaceship which leaves his face half sun burnt whilst at the same time Jillian and her son has an encounter. These two end up together, drawn by a vision to a mountain. What is going on? Well we don't know exactly because Spielberg doesn't tell us, as I said we have to watch but we can guess the aliens are coming, the military are getting concerned and those who have had encounters are being summoned to a mountain. But what will happen when they get there? What will happen when the aliens arrive? Will they be here to destroy us or will they have come in peace. Trust me as the story builds and Spielberg puts his imagination out there you will want to know the answers.

Now I am not going to go in to detail but there is a lot of creativity to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Take for example the scenes involving Laughlin, who finds himself with a team who keep on discovering old planes and ships which have for a long time have been lost. Then there is Roy's first encounter with the aliens, a playful scene involving a vehicle pulling up behind his stationary truck which due to what happened in a scene just a few seconds earlier toys with us. I could go on because one scene after another is beautifully crafted to create mystery, fear, horror and humour drawing you in to the story and satisfying those who might struggle with a storyline not served up on a plate by giving us some essential humour.

As much of what makes "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" great is thanks to Spielberg and his complete vision it is also down to the clever casting. There is the playfulness of having both Balaban and Dreyfuss in the same movie as at times in their careers these actors have looked remarkably similar especially when bearded. But Dreyfuss is perfectly cast for another reason because he is good as the every man who finds himself drawn into this alien scenario, bringing some humour to the role which just adds to Spielberg's playful side when he leads us to expect one thing but leaving us wondering whether what we expect is going to happen.

What this all boils down to is that "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is a phenomenal movie and one which you could write books on as it is so complete. What is more impressive is that even now over 35 years after it was released it is still impressive when watched for the first time and well worth giving up almost 150 minutes of your day to watch.

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