In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.
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
One idea tried and later deemed unsatisfactory involved filming the aliens mingling among human technicians played by mimes. Steven Spielberg directed the mimes to move in slow motion so that when the film was sped up, the aliens appeared to be moving really fast while the technicians appeared to be moving at normal speed. See more »
When Roy is stalled at the railroad track, the mailboxes fly open and their contents are expelled (close shot of the mailboxes). When seen from the inside of Roy's truck, the mailboxes are closed. This repeats with successive shots from the inside of the truck (closed) and the outside view (open). 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 »
A print of the film screened at the American Cinematheque (Los Angeles) several times features most of the Special Edition's edits, but also includes the Roy's tree-tossing sequence and his climb through the window. What's missing from this version is all of the footage from inside the spaceship. See more »
This is probably considered "a classic" by now, along with a few other 1970s Steven Spielberg movies. At the time of its release almost 30 years ago, the special-effects in here were astounding to view....and still hold up! They are still fun to watch.
The scenes in the beginning of this movie and at the end, are indelibly imprinted in my memory cells as well as millions of others. Who can ever forget that opening scene in the farmhouse when the little boy (Gary Guffey) is kidnapped or that ending with the gigantic spacecraft hovering over Devil's Hole in Wyoming, or the sound sequences emitted by the scientists trying to communicate with the aliens? There are many, many memorable scenes in this film - probably its biggest attribute.
To me, the only uncomfortable scene is the yelling match with Richard Dreyfuss and his family. The only message I didn't care for also involved Dreyfuss' character, who is "envied" at the end. Funny, I don't see a man who thoughtlessly leaves his family beyond as someone to be envied. Overall Dreyfuss looked more like a "Doofus" in here.
There are other credibility problems in here, too, but overall it's extremely interesting storytelling, great colors and special-effects and just about everything that director Steve Spielberg is noted for in his successful box-office films which translates to one crucial factor: entertainment.
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