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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 130,998 users   Metascore: 91/100
Reviews: 331 user | 164 critic | 7 from Metacritic.com

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 ...
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 <cst@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


We are not alone See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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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?


At one time there were three editions of the film. There was the original edition, then the director's edition and for TV they put both of these editions together so that it could be shown over two nights. All three editions together could be bought either on VHS or DVD. See more »


In the opening scene when the aircraft from Flight 19 are found, the call is made to "get the numbers off the engine blocks." Engines were exchanged frequently so it is more likely they would look for the Aircraft numbers off the identification plates, which have been well published. See more »


Roy Neary: [as Lacombe and Laughlin show him a drawing of Devil's Tower] Yeah, I've got one just like it in my living room. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?
See more »


Referenced in Godzilla (2014) See more »


When You Wish Upon a Star
Words: Ned Washington/Music: Leigh Harline
© 1940 Bourne Co.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Transforming Fear to Wonder
16 July 2004 | by (Spokane, Washington) – 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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