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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.


1,258 ( 510)
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
See  »

Did You Know?


Real air traffic controllers were used in the opening sequence. The synthesizer technician/performer was the actual engineer sent by ARP Instruments to install the synthesizer equipment (ARP 2500) on the set. Steven Spielberg watched his expert playing of the equipment and immediately cast him for the role. The name of the ARP engineer is Philip Dodds and he is actually mentioned in the credits. See more »


When Jillian has caught up to Barry on the highway and almost gets hit by Roy, the three stars in a row which appear to be Orion's belt that are visible above a tree to the right of the screen repeatedly change position between shots. In the book, however, the alien visitors are, in fact, described as being from the Orion constellation, so those "stars" could very well be alien ships, as, in the book, they use the ships to show where they came from. See more »


[last lines]
Barry Guiler: [looking up at the space ship flying away] Goodbye.
See more »


Referenced in Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles (2003) See more »


She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain
Whistled by a UFO observer
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Close Encounters Of The Incomprehensible Kind
27 June 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Spoilers Ahead:

This movie, besides being dreadfully boring, suffers from two bizarre assumptions. One, that advanced beings are less aware of how their actions effect more primitive forms. Two, that their forms of organizing knowledge are identical with our own. The first is also found in THE MOTIONLESS PICTURE, they cannot tell scans from weapons attacks, though we, the primitives can. Here, they burn faces, terrorize a single mom, almost burn her house down and abduct her little boy. We are supposed to believe that they are that advanced and are oblivious to the consequences, moral and scientific, of their behavior. The deduction is unavoidable either they are: 1. malevolent or 2. Retarded. On earth, it is an empirical fact that the higher up the chain of mammal life we go, the greater the awareness of our actions on other creatures, not less. Here, as in the MOTIONLESS PICTURE, they tool about kidnapping children, burning faces, planting the image of the Devil's Tower in monkey boys heads which tortures them and causes them to freak out and go bananas. Does this sound like benevolent aliens to you?

The second one we see in the last half hour of the movie. As in CONTACT, where we hear Ellie tells us that math is the only truly universal language. What is the evidence for that assertion? Kant shows us that the forms of unifying the phenomenal into categories like causation, plurality are simply our ways of making sense of the phenomenal world and have not reality outside of our minds. Why would we assume their minds work like ours? Notice that imitation is not communication. No communication occurs in this movie only we play back and they play back. Nothing more than if we played Little Deuce Coupe to them and they played it back to us. What happened? nothing but mindless mimic behavior. The same with the silly hand gestures, what just took place?

Beyond these subtleties, the movie is one of the most boring pieces of crap you will ever endure. The effects have not aged well; as one great reviewer wrote, they do look like lighted ice cream cones. You will not enjoy watching Roy and his family come apart; or Roy turning the living room into a mud room, literally. It is an ugly, boring film. Seeing the little boy and his mother terrorized and then the little boy abducted, sorry, these actions do not bespeak benign, kind aliens. Forgive me, it came out after STAR WARS and it was so apparent to us, at the time, it was an attempt to cash in on that movie. It is just different enough but you get the point. Ironically, Carpenter did the same thing to Steven with STARMAN right after E.T. The movie is not esoteric it is absurd and incomprehensible deliberately I believe. Q.E.D.

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