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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

PG  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  25 December 1977 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 124,557 users   Metascore: 91/100
Reviews: 324 user | 159 critic | 7 from

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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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 ...
Merrill Connally ...


Roy Neary sets out to investigate a power outage when his truck stalls and he is bathed in light from above. After this, strange visions and five musical notes keep running through his mind. Will he find the meaning of the visions, and who - or what - placed them in his mind? Written by Colin Tinto <>

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:





| | |

Release Date:

25 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
See  »

Did You Know?


Stanley Kubrick was so impressed by Cary Guffey's performance that he wanted him for the role of Danny Torrence in The Shining (1980). See more »


Stars shown on a summer night near Muncie, Indiana, are inappropriate for the latitude and the season as shown by the dense foliage. The constellation Orion would be much higher in the sky in the upright position in which it is shown, but only during the winter and late autumn. See more »


Brad Neary: I don't understand these fractions.
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Brad Neary: [bewildered] That's a fraction, I don't understand them.
Roy Neary: [using a model train as an object lesson] Alright, let's say that this boxcar is sixty feet long, OK?, and one third of it is across this switch here, alright... And now another train is coming... Now, how far do you have to move this boxcar so that the other train doesn't smash it? Quickly Brad, there are thousands of lives at stake... Brad any answer...
See more »


Referenced in No 73: Demolition (1987) See more »


The Square Song
Words & music by Joe Raposo (as Joseph Raposo)
Published by Jonico Music, Inc.
Courtesy Pickwick International, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Spielberg Directs Star Bores
3 July 2005 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

This came close to breaking box office records when it was released in 1977 but for the life of me I have no idea why . I disliked this movie upon seeing on its British television premiere one Christmas ( In those days the only time you'd get to see a good movie on television was at Christmas or Easter ) in the early 1980s and after seeing it again earlier today I now know why I disliked it - It was directed by Steven Spielberg I'm sorry to be a heretic but has there ever been a more overrated director ? With CLOSE ENCOUNTERS we see all the flaws of Spielberg's work

1 ) Shot duration - Notice how the camera stays locked onto a scene ? Take for example a scene early in the film where the Neary family make small talk ? There's no inter cutting in the scene as the camera holds still for a couple of minutes . I may be wrong but it might in fact be shorter than a couple of minutes but feels far longer . There doesn't seem to be a single scene in the whole movie that doesn't suffer from this flaw which means the entire film feels painfully longer than it actually is . To give you an idea of how bad this is cast your mind back to the first time you saw the special edition . Didn't you ask yourself if there was any difference between the original and special editions ? I know I did , and compare the special edition of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS to the special edition of ALIENS or the extended releases of LORD OF THE RINGS and you'll realise the original version of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is a very badly edited movie that suffers from overlong shot duration and most of Spielberg's other movies , especially AI , suffer from this directorial flaw

2 ) The score - I can understand Spielberg rehiring John Williams after the superb work the composer did with JAWS but if he did such a good job with JAWS why did Spielberg allow him to get away with a mediocre score here ? The alien spaceship theme is memorable but the other music in the film is very irritating because despite being intrusive it fails to convey what the audience should be feeling and eventually sounds like an orchestral dirge . It's also interesting to note that while Hans Zimmer and Howard Shore are head and shoulders above Williams as a composer Spielberg still continues to hire him for every film he directs and I've no idea why . This movie should have ended the partnership

3 ) Mawkish family sentiment - Being a Spielberg movie means we have to endure American apple pie family scenes and my god it's an endurance . Living in Scotland I fail to connect with these middle American families but I guess if you live in middle America you'd probably fail to recognise these type of characters also . I notice Spielberg's latest release WAR OF THE WORLDS has shoehorned an American family into the narrative when the original novel worked well enough without an American dad and daughter

Sorry if you're reading this Steven , I hope this criticism hasn't ruined my career as a Hollywood screenwriter and I realise that it's not entirely your fault since a movie about benign aliens isn't going to impress a lot of critics so lets blame the producers . I mean we see people being abducted by alien spaceships which was the premise of UFO . Despite the overall flaws of that Gerry Anderson series the idea of aliens abducting humans so they can steal their organs is a scary and compelling idea . Unfortunately there's no such horrible goings on here as we're treated to a happy ending . Likewise the government conspiracies of keeping alien contacts secret is very twee after seeing numerous episodes of THE X FILES , in this movie nosy people don't meet a violent death at the hands of government spooks

Can you imagine how much better this film might have been if it had been produced as UFO meets THE X FILES ? In fact it'd probably have increased Spielberg's standing amongst a lot of people including myself . But as it stands I think this movie is summed up best as STAR BORES

25 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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