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The Premiere of the Definitive Director's Cut of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND!!!

God I'd love to see this on the big screen with digital sound and all the frills. It would be sooooooooo cool. And apparently it was according to Birdie Num Num.... Here he is to give you the geek's eye view on it all...

Just thought I'd share a little piece of geek nirvana that I was fortunate to experience this evening.

Tonight, I attended the premiere of the "definitive director's cut" of one of the great films of all time, namely "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

For this SPECIAL "SPECIAL EDITION", Spielberg has kept some of the additions from the 1980 Special Edition, but has excised the lame "inside the ship" ending and restored all the amazing family footage and scenes of Richard Dreyfuss' nervous breakdown that he had cut out of the "original" edition. All this, with digital sound and pristine color in a beautiful brand new wide-screen print. Ahhh, bliss. (Now if only Lucas can take a cue from Spielberg and put back Han firing first.... well, it's good to dream).

It had been a long time since I had seen this film, particularly on the big screen. I remember being 9 years old and waiting on line at the Cinerama Dome in LA for the opening. Let me tell you something -- this film is even better with age.

It's incredible how well-made this film is, how far ahead of its time. Face it, "The X-Files" wouldn't exist without it. The special effects are still dazzling. They look ten times more real and awe-inspiring than most of the CGI stuff we're given today. The lighting, the texture... amazing.

Best of all, it's a reminder that Spielberg once was a master at a little thing called subtlety. Not once does he hit the audience over the head. And apart from, perhaps, STAR WARS, this is clearly John Williams' best score. The film has its own deliberate pace, building slowly to the amazing ending. And the characters are easily the most real Spielberg has ever depicted. None of the cute, whitewashed suburbia of, say, POLTERGEIST here.

For anyone out there who hasn't been able to see the original version on tape for a while, I think the amazing family scenes here are going to be the biggest surprise/treat. It almost felt like Cassavettes -- so raw, so real. The scene where Dreyfuss starts breaking down in the tub and his kid looks at him and silently cries... the sequence where he destroys the house, gathering the materials for his sculpture... his breakup with Teri Garr. We get such a raw picture of Dreyfuss' obsession. The restoration of these scenes really takes the movie to a whole other level.

Best of all, there was a discussion panel afterwards. Spielberg couldn't make it (he was in NYC), but Vilmos Zsigmond was there, as well as production designer Joe Alves, producers Michael and Julia Phillips (she seemed like she was on drugs and hogged the mic whenever possible), Melinda Dillon, Bob Balaban and, best of all, CARY GUFFEY!!! Guffey is now married, has just gotten his MBA and lives in Alabama. His hair is dark and he's very tall, but his face looks exactly the same.

I assume a theatrical re-release is being planned for this. Don't miss it (as if anyone who reads this site would...).


Birdie Num-Num

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 13, 1999, 2:34 a.m. CST


    by Cough

    Hope we all get a chance to see this. I believe this film was a real landmark in the structured "education" of the public as to the reality of extraterrestrial life, that continues today and will hopefully culminate in an official announcement, probably by the US government. The sooner the better; we want the Truth.

  • Jan. 13, 1999, 6:52 a.m. CST

    same as the disc?

    by half vader

    Is this the same cut as the fantastic collector's laserdisc box set that came out a few months ago? It's GREAT, with a TONNE of making-of stuff, like "levitating/flying aliens" and freaky things like that. Even if it IS the same version, I'd still love to see it on a HUGE screen.

  • Jan. 13, 1999, 7:18 a.m. CST


    by Nihilon

    Any word on when this will be coming out on DVD? I guess if they're gonna re-release it in theaters, the DVD won't come out til sometime after. Oh well, I'd rather wait and see it on the big screen then get the DVD and have no theatrical rerelease.

  • Jan. 13, 1999, 7:35 a.m. CST

    Williams' Best

    by 1701-E

    I like the score for Close Encounters, but I'd have to say Williams' best are Star Wars and SUPERMAN. Nothing beats Superman when you're driving in the car - although it tends to make you feel invulnerable, and to speed a little :o) There is a huge hill I frequently visit near me, where I pop in the Superman soundtrack, and as I crest the hill and can see the whole valley laid out in front of me, the music swells, I can almost believe THIS man can fly...

  • Jan. 13, 1999, 7:45 a.m. CST

    Han firing first?

    by matthew3

    What do you mean Han firing first?

  • Jan. 13, 1999, 8:21 a.m. CST


    by hastur

    This back and forth crap is really annoying. I've pretty much come to loathe the announcement that a "Special" edition is coming out for any film. I saw Close Encounters when it originally came out and it was a great movie. It was also, incidentally, a huge success. So why, when Spielberg became an 800 pound gorilla, did he have to muck about with a hugely popular movie? Because he could, I guess. And now he's changed it again?! Gee, I can't wait for the Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Special Edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. By then he'll have REALLY gotten it right.

  • Jan. 13, 1999, 9:10 a.m. CST

    If they do a DVD.....

    by Bundren

    I hope the powers that be include ALL cuts, even if it takes a second disc. I have the Criterion laserdisc, which has all of the scenes, but only the original (or is it the Special Edition? Can't remember) is shown in sequence. In order to see the other version, you have to program the chapters and insert scenes, and the transition is jarring -- the screen goes blue, you wait for a few seconds, etc. Since DVDs have so much space, it would be great to have each version of the film available all on one disc (or maybe two)so that one can make comparisons, choose the cut that's preferred, etc. This type of thing is exactly what DVD is made for, so I hope the studio and Spielberg know this too. Then again, I guess Spielberg isn't too enthusiastic about DVD yet for his movies... Damn. Well, this would be a great first choice when he does finally come around to it...

  • Jan. 13, 1999, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Two Things:

    by SpaceBar

    First, in the biography of Spielberg that I read earlier this year, I believe it described Julia Phillips as being somewhat of a bitch. Take that as you will, coming from the biography author and through me. To the guy who asked about Han Solo: in the original Star Wars: A New Hope, in the cantina he fires upon Greedo with no warning. In the Special Edition, Greedo fires on him first. Faugh.

  • Jan. 13, 1999, 11:06 a.m. CST

    Cotopaxi in the Gobi Desert

    by Lackoid

    To those disgusted with "special editions", as the Criterion disc makes eminently clear: Spielberg really wanted the scene where the ship is found in the desert in the movie. Columbia rushed him to release the movie without it. The movie was obviously successful, but I think you've got to agree that the ocean liner in the desert is a stunning piece of forshadowing, hinting as it does at the awesome force of the still undreamed of mothership and creating a hint of possible dread at the revelation of the as yet unknown intentions of those beings who deposited it there. The Cotopaxi segment MAKES the movie for me, suffusing all that is to come with the certainty of awesome power to be revealed by beings probably(not certainly)peaceful.

  • Jan. 13, 1999, 9:41 p.m. CST

    speilberg and DVD's

    by Olumor

    what's the deal with speilberg movies on DVD? I mean why aren't there any? (I don't count 1941 because it sucks) I mean the good ones, Jaws, Raiders, Shindler's List, ET, the list goes on. There was a Gremlins disc out for a short while, but for some reason it got pulled off the market.

  • Jan. 13, 1999, 10:56 p.m. CST

    CE3K DVD...

    by IAmJack'sUserID

    I've read on one of the many DVD sites that the Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind DVD is in fact sitting in some warehouse just collecting dust. Columbia(the distributors) would love to release the disc, but cannot as they have yet to receive the 'go' from Spielberg. I dunno what's actually on the disc however besides, obviously, the great movie...

  • Jan. 14, 1999, 11:26 a.m. CST

    close encounters of the complete kind

    by m2298

    I wish they would release (on video and all other formats) ALL of the movie, similar to what was shown on TV years ago. It seems that whenever Speilberg decides to show something new, he then decides he doesn't like something else.

  • Jan. 14, 1999, 12:18 p.m. CST

    Spielberg's take on DVD

    by Bundren

    I remember reading an article that said that Spielberg's in no hurry to release anything on DVD because it's such a new format, the market's not clearly defined etc. I know, plenty of people would say otherwise about DVD, but that was his take on things. The article was in relation to Dreamworks films, but I think that this also applies to his other films as well. Then again, I read this article several months ago, so maybe he's changed his mind by now (ow will soon). One can only hope.....