Saturday, September 11, 2010

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Francois Truffaut, Bob Balaban, Melinda Dillon

More info: IMDB

Tagline: Close Encounter of the First Kind - Sighting of a UFO. Close Encounter of the Second Kind - Physical Evidence. Close Encounter of the Third Kind - Contact. WE ARE NOT ALONE

Plot: Planes reported missing in 1945 suddenly appear in the Mojave desert. A commercial flight is buzzed by a 'bright' object that the pilot 'wouldn't know how to describe'. Roy Neary, while working one night, has a Close Encounter... The US Government determine where the visitors plan to land and create an elaborate cover-up to keep people away. However, a group of people, including Neary, share a vision which draws them to the place and a meeting with new, and old, friends.

My rating: 10/10

Will I watch it again? Shit, son, I'm thinking about watching it right now.

I could go on for hours about how much I love this film. It's the greatest Earth-based science fiction film ever. I remember seeing this at the drive-in in the 70s as a kid. My parents were there to see HARPER VALLEY P.T.A. (1978) and since it was too saucy for me and my younger sister, we sat in lawn chairs and watched CEotTK. JESUS PALAMINO! This shit was AWESOME! I distinctly remember how amazing the opening was with the music getting louder and louder and then BAM! There we were in the desert with the WWII planes. What an amazing start!

Since then I've seen it many times and it never gets old. I love the look and feel, the acting, the special effects, the Devil's Tower location, the score, every last bit of it. John Williams' score is one of all-time great ones. As a kid I was still favoring his STAR WARS (1977) music over anything else but as I got into my teens in the mid-80s I began to realize how brilliant this score is. To think they were both released the same year and created by the same hand, the music couldn't be any more different. James Horner couldn't pull anything like that off. The closest composer currently that could do something so diverse and brilliant is Michael Giacchino.

This is Spielberg of the 70s when he was young and full of beans. I miss that Spielberg. I can watch this and JAWS (1975) monthly for the rest of my life and never complain. There's something special and magical about these two films that resonate with me that few films can. Maybe it came at the right time of my childhood. I don't know and it doesn't matter. CEotTK is a work of art that will never diminish. It's a snapshot in time, a time and an experience I will never forget.

Twenty years after seeing this at the drive-in I made a point to stop off in north-eastern Wyoming to see The Devil's Tower in person for the first time. I had the biggest grin on my face the whole time I was there. The memories from '78 filled me with emotions I cannot describe. It sounds silly but my face was wet for the first bit of the visit because of it. It felt so good. I had been wanting to go there for exactly twenty years and there I was. That was twelve years ago and I need to go back. I've been playing with my mashed potatoes lately and I don't know why...

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