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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

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After an accidental encounter with otherworldly vessels, an ordinary man follows a series of psychic clues to the first scheduled meeting between representatives of Earth and visitors from the cosmos.


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'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' at 40

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's cultural phenomenon Close Encounters of the Third Kind with a look at images from the film.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 38 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Claude Lacombe (as Francois Truffaut)
Wild Bill (as Warren Kemmerling)
Shawn Bishop ...
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


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 See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



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Release Date:

14 December 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

CE3K  »


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(Special Edition) | (Theatrical Original) | (Director's Cut)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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Did You Know?


The iconic five-note melody was a chance arrangement that both composer John Williams and director Steven Spielberg happened to like out of hundreds of different permutations. See more »


In the beginning of the scene where the aliens are coming to get Barry, Jillian's hair is tied back. Later, in the same scene, she's in the kitchen and her hair is down. See more »


Ronnie Neary: [to Toby] Let go of this fence right now. You come with me. Do you want me to hit you? You let go of that fence!
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the 1980s special edition, the new musical edition features the end credits different, then the fades into well after the end credits to the black screen. See more »


The Square Song
Words and Music by Joe Raposo (as Joseph Raposo)
Published by Jonico Music, Inc.
Courtesy Pickwick International, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Transforming Fear to Wonder
16 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

An amazing film, one of my favorites. I watch this regularly, especially at times when the reality of life is overwhelming, just to refocus and regain some sense of perspective.

Everything in this film works toward one end: to transform the adult sense of fear back into the childlike sense of wonder at the world. From the very opening moments of the film, designed to create confusion and startlement, this movie creates a sensation of dread and foreboding. The dissonance of the soundtrack, the juxtaposition of images, they all are working to build into the viewer a feeling that something just isn't right, that something out of the ordinary is taking place, and underscoring this all with a sense that this is something to resist, to pull away from, to not allow it to affect one's "ordinary life."

But as the movie progresses, the tone begins to shift, and the true intent of the film begins to peek through. This isn't about being afraid of the unknown, but rather embracing it. Paying attention to the "subliminal images" in life, allowing them to lead you into something unknown and perhaps dangerous, only then can one be open to wonder and experience the world through the magical eyes of a child.

Dreyfuss' character takes us on this journey, met with resistance all along the way. His wife, his neighbors, his job, his community, all are working against him, and it's only when he's reached his craziest that he truly gives in and begins to stop trying to understand and instead embraces the experiences in store for him. The scientific community is seeking to understand, but without having any personal calling to be involved. Only Barry is truly able to throw himself into the strangeness that is taking place, and his enthusiasm is greeted by both the characters and the audience as somehow alien and threatening.

The ending of this film, when all the fear is finally stripped away and the sense of amazed wonder overtakes everyone on the screen and in the audience, brings about an amazing catharsis. Discarding all the "adult" sensibilities and being able to approach life once again with a sense of innocent amazement for the Strange hidden amongst the Ordinary, one can begin again to approach life from a fresh vantage point.

Powerful, mystifying, and rejuvenating. I highly recommend this film for anyone jaded with life and seeking a sense of renewal.

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