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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 130,858 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?


Douglas Trumbull and Steven Spielberg went through several conceptions of what the UFOs would look like. One abandoned idea was to have them resemble structures and logos familiar on Earth, such as those for McDonalds and Chevron, to suggest the aliens were using human symbols to make their crafts appear less threatening. See more »


The newspaper headline describing Barry's abduction reads "Cosmic Kidnaping" rather than "Kidnapping". This is not a misspelling but a now-uncommon variant that some publications still used in the 1970s (Time Magazine used it well into the '90s). See more »


Air Traffic Controller: TWA 517 do you want to report a UFO, over? TWA 517 do you want to report a UFO, over?
TWAPilot: [over radio] Negative, we don't want to report.
Air Traffic Controller: Air East 31, do you wish to report a UFO, over?
AirEast Pilot: [over radio] Negative, we don't want to report one of those either.
Air Traffic Controller: Air East 31, do you wish to file a report of any kind to us?
AirEast Pilot: [over radio] I wouldn't know what kind of report to file, Center.
Air Traffic Controller: Uh Air East 31, uh, me neither.
See more »


Referenced in Kingdom: Episode #3.2 (2009) See more »


Love Song of the Waterfall
Words & music by Bob Nolan, Bernard Barnes, and Carl Winge
Published by Unichappell Music, Inc./Elvis Presley Music.
From the United Artists Records album "Love Song of the Waterfall"
Sung by Slim Whitman
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A terrific movie about alien contact.
20 April 2005 | by (Todmorden, England) – See all my reviews

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is a film about aliens landing on earth, but instead of descending into the usual laser-gun confrontations between humans and aliens, this one dares to remain "peaceful". It is a film about contact, not conflict. It is also a wonderfully thoughtful film and a prime example of compelling story-telling. If there is a weakness with Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, it is that the director Steven Spielberg occasionally allows sentimentality to enter into the proceedings, but in truth it is a very minor weakness and it doesn't significantly spoil this tremendous movie experience.

Several missing aircraft turn up over 30 years after they were reported lost. More baffling still is the fact that they vanished over Florida but have turned up, in pristine condition and without pilots, in the middle of Mexico. Other weird things happen: an aeroplane pilot reports a near collision with a brightly lit spacecraft; a Navy warship missing for decades is found in the desert; thousands of Indians report a light in the sky which "sang" to them; and across America there are scores of inexplicable UFO sightings. Electrician Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is a normal family man who sees one of the UFOs. Soon after, he is tormented by a vision apparently implanted in his mind by the aliens. His torment becomes obsession as he tries to figure out the meaning of a hill-like shape that has become embedded in his mind. As his marriage collapses, he desperately tries to find answers and is finally gratified when he discovers that the picture in his head is trying to tell him where to go in order to witness an extra terrestrial landing.

The fact that Roy Neary is just an everyday guy cast into the most incredible of circumstances gives this film a real human dimension. Roy could represent any one of us - you, me, your next door neighbour, your father, whoever. Spielberg tells his story very carefully, adding clues and more layers of mystery before actually revealing where the story is heading. It is probably the most controlled and skillfully paced of Spielberg's '70s films. The ending, featuring the alien arrival, is a technical tour-de-force, but it works well on an emotional level too because the viewer has grown to know Roy and has been drawn into his quest for answers. John Williams provides yet another legendary music score - including an iconic five-note tune which the aliens and humans use to communicate with each other. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is a classic sci-fi film, as fresh and absorbing now as it was back in 1977.

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