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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 129,471 users   Metascore: 91/100
Reviews: 330 user | 162 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 12 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


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?


Cary Guffey's performances were so good that they only ever had to do one or two takes of each shot he was in. He became known as One-Take Cary on the set, and Steven Spielberg had a t-shirt printed up for him with the phrase written on it. 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 »


Claude Lacombe: Mr. Neary, what do you want?
Roy Neary: I just want to know that it's really happening.
See more »


Referenced in We Are Not Alone (2005) See more »


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

32 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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