Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind (1977)

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Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind (1977)

Post  BoG on Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:54 pm

Directed by Steven Spielberg
I'll have to admit that I find this film to be dull and slow going nowadays. It's still watchable, mostly for the performances, but the thrill, as they say, is gone. However, back in the day when it opened in theaters, this film did encourage a sense of wonder. If one is watching it for the first time, there is this steady build-up to something and one wonders what it is building up to. You begin to wonder, at about the 15-minute mark, how it will all end... what will be the fantastic resolution? And, the conclusion does satisfy... with some qualifications.
The first sequence involves the finding of old airplanes from World War II in the middle of the desert - airplanes which had been missing since 1945; the revelation is that the aircraft are in perfect working order and still new. This first act also introduces us to Lacombe (Francois Truffaut), a French investigator of such phenomenon. But, the story's main character, Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), is a lineman living and working in a rural town in Indiana. He's sent out one night to work repairs when there are mysterious power failures. The events of this night, involving apparent flying saucers zipping around the countryside, shape the direction of his life for the remainder of the film.
Dreyfuss as Neary is earnest and delivers a compelling performance: he becomes obsessed with making contact with obviously extraterrestrial entities, even experiencing some kind of mind link which impresses certain images into his mind. He sees some kind of mountain in his head and can't get rid of this compulsion to recreate it - "this means something" he says. Early on, it also becomes apparent that his wife (Teri Garr) cannot share in this fascination of his. Increasingly, Roy seems unhinged to her and she eventually leaves him. Roy has more in common with another woman (Melinda Dillon) who also witnessed the flying saucers on that fateful night. Her young son (Cary Guffey) is spirited away the next night by alien entities (why this? - we never get a real answer).
Though Garr's character is close to a caricature, very closed-minded, I do sympathize with her at the point that Neary really begins to act in a bizarre manner, intent on constructing a massive model in the family home. The film opens the door to possibly disturbing questions: it's nice that we have this sense of wonder and a need to find answers which Neary epitomizes, but this story suggests that sacrificing one's family is all part of this equation. Or, it simply points out that Neary married the wrong woman and was heading in the wrong direction until this event straightened out his life. Either way, it's a sobering, maybe depressing side effect of all the fantastic developments. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10

Trivia Encounters: Spielberg later added on a scene at the conclusion and released an updated version of the film in 1980. This involved a visual of the inside of the huge mothership space vehicle which Neary sees. This suggests that Spielberg couldn't get it "right" with his original version and set the barometer for other filmmakers like Lucas and Jim Cameron to tinker with their films, releasing revised, usually longer versions. In my estimation, there will always be something very wrong with this film's conclusion; it sets up wild concepts such as people released by the aliens after an absence of many years and does nothing with this. Didn't the aliens seriously interfere with the lives of these people, plopping them back into a time when they are out-of-date? Yet, the tone of the film remains benign by the end, as if it's all a good thing.
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Close Encounters Behind the Scenes

Post  BoG on Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:18 pm




BELOW: Model of the Mountain, sold in auction recently...

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