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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

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After an encounter with U.F.O.s, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen.


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Won 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 37 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Claude Lacombe (as Francois Truffaut)
Warren J. Kemmerling ...
Wild Bill (as Warren Kemmerling)
Philip Dodds ...
Shawn Bishop ...
Adrienne Campbell ...
Silvia Neary
Justin Dreyfuss ...


Two parallel stories are told. In the first, a group of research scientists from a variety of backgrounds are investigating the strange appearance of items in remote locations, primarily desert regions. In continuing their investigation, one of the lead scientists, a Frenchman named Claude Lacombe, incorporates the Kodály method of music education as a means of communication in their work. The response, in turn, at first baffles the researchers, until American cartographer David Laughlin deciphers the meaning of the response. In the second, electric company lineman and family man Roy Neary and single mother Jillian Guiler are among some individuals in Muncie, Indiana who experience some paranormal activity before some flashes of bright lights in the sky, which they believe to be a UFO. Roy becomes obsessed with what he saw, unlike some others, especially in some form of authority, who refuse to acknowledge their belief that it was a UFO in not wanting to appear crazy. That obsession ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Now There Is More (USA 1980 special edition re-release) See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

14 December 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

CE3K  »

Box Office


$19,400,870 (estimated)


$128,300,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(special edition) | (director's cut) | (original)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The UFO landing site built for the movie was 27 m high, 137 m long, and 76 m wide, making it the largest indoor film set ever constructed. The structure included 6.4 km of scaffolding, 1570 square metres of fibreglass, and 2740 square metres of nylon canopy. See more »


From Muncie, Indiana (Roy's town) to Moorcroft, Wyoming (outside Devil's tower) is 1,250 miles and would have taken at least two full days to drive; yet, Roy is showing arriving at Moorcraft the next day in the late morning. See more »


Dirty Tricks #4: [Plotting about how to clear the Devil's Tower area of its population] Contaminated water. Affects people, crops, animals. Disease.
Dirty Tricks #3: Yeah, epidemic.
Dirty Tricks #1: What kind of disease?
Dirty Tricks #3: A plague. A plague epidemic.
Dirty Tricks #1: Nobody's gonna believe a plague in this day and age.
Dirty Tricks #2: *Anthrax.*
Dirty Tricks #4: Ranching country.
Dirty Tricks #3: Yes!
Dirty Tricks #2: There are a lot of sheep up in those hills.
Wild Bill: Wait, that's good, that's good, I like that. But it may not evacuate everybody. There's always some joker who thinks he's immune. What I need is something so scary it'll ...
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Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Girl in Gold Boots (1999) See more »


More Than a Feeling
(1976) (uncredited)
Written by Tom Scholz
Performed by Boston
Produced by John Boylan and Tom Scholz
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Spielberg Takes You Into A Realm Beyond the Known
26 July 2001 | by (Salem, Oregon) – See all my reviews

Strange things are happening around the world; things that challenge the imagination and open the mind to possibilities almost beyond imagining. Things that only director Steven Spielberg can explain, which he does in his monumental epic of man's encounter with alien life, `Close Encounters of the Third Kind.' Planes lost in WWII suddenly appear in a Mexican desert; a long lost ship turns up in the middle of the Gobi Desert; and in Dharmsala, Northern India, hundreds of people are gathered together, singing--a short `tune' that consists of a mere five notes, over and over, repeatedly. When they are asked where they heard this tune, the throng, as one, dramatically thrust their hands into the air and point to the sky. And, indeed, in the skies all around the world, strange things are happening.

And even as these events are transpiring, one evening in Muncie, Indiana, the city is suddenly blacked out by an inexplicable power outage. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is at home when it hits, and he is called in by the power company for which he works, then sent out in the darkness to an unfamiliar location. Lost, he sits in his pick-up truck at a railroad crossing, studying a map, when all at once he notices a `disturbance' around him. Mailboxes along the side of the road are clanging open and shut by themselves; then things inside his truck begin to move, subtly at first, then erupting and flying about as if caught up in a tornado--and then just as suddenly his truck is engulfed in a blinding light. He leans out the window for a look, but it's too bright and he has to pull back. Then just as abruptly, it all stops-- the disturbance, the light-- everything. And he looks out the window again; but this time he sees something. And though he doesn't realize it at the time, at that moment, his life changed forever.

In this wonderfully realized, highly imaginative film that is extremely well crafted and presented by Spielberg, he takes you along with Roy in the days that follow that strange occurrence in Muncie. Roy becomes lost in thought, drifting, unable to focus on anything, much to the consternation of his wife, Ronnie (Teri Garr). But he can't help himself; something-- an image-- has begun to form in his mind. He has no idea what it is or what it means, but it becomes an obsession, and slowly it begins to take shape: First in a handful of shaving cream, then in a plate of mashed potatoes, which he piles up and begins to sculpt with his fork, while Ronnie and his kids look on in bewilderment. But he can see it in his mind, and it's like a mountain-- a mountain shaped like a `tower.' And Roy isn't the only one. Around the world, others are being drawn to the same image in their minds, and it's a force that compels them, pushing them on to find whatever it is, a power so strong in cannot be denied or refused. They know only one thing: Whatever it is, it's important, and they have no choice but to follow where it may lead. And it becomes a great adventure, one in which they discover what Man has long suspected: We are not alone.

Richard Dreyfuss is perfectly cast as Neary, a regular guy-- he could be your neighbor or the man who comes to install your phone-- and gives a thoroughly convincing, introspective performance while creating a character with whom it is easy to relate and through whom you are able to share this unique adventure. Garr does a good job, as well, as Ronnie, the wife concerned with her husband's sudden and seemingly bizarre behavior, someone with whom you can certainly sympathize. Dillon delivers, too, as the single mother who suddenly finds herself caught up in these inexplicable and extraordinary events, and also turning in a memorable performance is the young Cary Guffey, as Barry, Jillian's son, who makes his own connection with the other-worldly visitors.

The supporting cast includes Francois Truffaut (Lacombe), Bob Balaban (Laughlin) and Lance Henriksen (Robert). An uplifting, positive motion picture, `Close Encounters of the Third Kind' is thoroughly entertaining, as well as thought provoking. Spielberg draws you in as few filmmakers can, with a great story and with characters who are readily accessible and with whom it is easy to identify-- all of which adds up to an absorbing, memorable and enjoyable experience, and a perfect example of the real magic of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.

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