A giant great white shark arrives on the shores of a New England beach resort and wreaks havoc with bloody attacks on swimmers, until a local sheriff teams up with a marine biologist and an old seafarer to hunt the monster down.
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
From the beginning when he took the part of Lacombe, François Truffaut made it quite clear that he was working strictly as an actor, and he had no interest in helping out as an assistant director. See more »
When the numbers sent by the aliens are interpreted as geographic coordinates, there is no indication of the hemispheres of the latitudes nor longitudes. The coordinates as they are sent - 104°44'30" 44°36'10" - actually describe a point in north-central China. See more »
Aliens in Muncie make for Spielberg's Best Film Ever
Steven Spielberg has made huge popcorn blockbusters that gross more money at the box office (i.e. "Jaws," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," or "Jurassic Park") and are more exciting on a visceral level. As he as aged and matured as a director, he has also made movies that are more important and will hold a more solid place in the chronicles of film as an artistic document of history (i.e. "Schindler's List," "Saving Private Ryan," and "Munich"). For my money, his best film will still always be "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." This film is Spielberg's humanistic and heartfelt answer to Kubrick's intellectual and cerebral look at man's first contact with life from elsewhere in the universe in his 1968 opus "2001: A Space Odyssey."
"Close Encounters" came early on in Spielberg's career, made in 1977, and has all the hallmarks of his later films played just right before he became so self-referential. Here we have his typical bag of tricks long before they became so typical: familial strife, coming to terms with something bigger than oneself that challenges the male protagonist's view of the world around him, little kids in jeopardy, superb build up of suspense, fantastic visual effects, and a memorable score from John Williams. From the first UFO sightings in Muncie, Indiana to the fantastic finale at Devil's Tower in Wyoming, this is grand entertainment. Lots of films have emulated this movie to varying degrees of success, from Robert Zemeckis' earnest "Contact," to the shameful scam that was M. Night Shymalan's "Signs," and even Spielberg himself recently did the dark natured flip-side to benevolent alien encounters with his remake of "War of the Worlds" (which makes a fantastic double-feature with this). However, nothing compares to this true original. No other film has made me want to believe in aliens more, and I'll never look at a plate of mashed potatoes the same again.
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