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
Vilmos Zsigmond, the director of photography on The Sugarland Express (1974), returned to work with Spielberg after passing up the job of shooting Jaws (1975). He found the director more commanding and less eager to discuss options than previously, but Zsigmond was enthusiastic to be on the picture. "[Close Encounters] had the smell of a great movie. We fell into sandtraps not because anybody made mistakes but because we were making things that had never been done before." Zsigmond found himself blamed for many of those "sandtraps" by producer Julia Phillips and the studio, who almost fired him over his insistence that he needed at least one day to pre-light the enormous set. Nevertheless, Zsigmond refused to give in to pressure to use less lighting, and he was supported in this by Spielberg and especially Trumbull, who knew what it would take to match the scenes to the special effects. After the first two months of shooting in Mobile, when studio executives and financial backers began to show up on set, Phillips insisted on firing him. Several other cinematographers were called as potential replacements--John A. Alonzo, László Kovács, Ernest Laszlo--but most of them were friends of Zsigmond and agreed that if he couldn't handle the job, no one could. See more »
Shadow of camera on the screen door of the farm. See more »
Near the end of the credits it starts to reads as follows: "During the filming of all animal sequences, H.L. EDWARDS, Veterinarian of Gillette, Wyoming, was in attendance at all times to aid the filmmakers and the anesthetist in proper treatment of the animals used, and at no time were the animals harmed or mistreated in any way." See more »
The Criterion Collection 3-disc Laserdisc released in 1990 featured both the 1977 Theatrical & 1980 Special Edition cuts. The theatrical however held onto the '80 Special Edition shot of a shadowed spaceship flying over Roy's truck. This was requested by Steven Spielberg while overseeing the disc's production. The 1980 cut can only be viewed on players that could have re-arranged the disc's chapters from the end of the disc to earlier on, requiring a 5-second pause between chapters. See more »
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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