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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND Definitive Director's Edition review

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND may very well be my favorite Spielberg film. I don’t know. It’s awfully close between RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, JAWS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS..

I had yet to see this Definitive Director’s Cut, though I’ve had it on video for what I believe has been a year now. I had attempted to see this film projected on OSCAR day of this year, but the theater so completely botched it, that I was forced to go without seeing this film in all it’s glory. Now... Thankfully due to the blessed Paramount Theater I have had my chance to see this latest incarnation of Spielberg’s fantastic film.

I have been frustrated for seemingly ever now that I haven’t had a chance to see the original cut of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS because of that blasted Special Edition with that pretty, but ultimately lame interior of the Mothership yuckness that plucked away my own sense of “I wonder what’s inside there” that I was left with, with the original.

Also, that damned Special Edition cut out a ton of the Dreyfuss going nuts sequence and made Teri Garr seem like some sort of mega-bitch, instead of a woman besieged by a seemingly insane and irrationally erratic husband.

BUT, now.... Now we get to see Dreyfuss truly become obsessed. We see the extreme emotional strain between them. We also get to see what the loss of Melinda Dillon’s son does to here, and the state she is tossed into.

And to me, even with the pure glory of all of Douglas Trumbull’s Special Photographic Effects, at the end of this film I’m left with the journey that Roy Neary has taken.

What would happen if you saw the light? And in this film it could be either the light of beings from another planet or God. I’m talking about seeing something that ‘rational people’ don’t believe in. Be it the Kennedy assassination or the Roswell landing. Those kooky scientist we see claiming they’ve seen cities on the surface of Mars or that an Asteroid is coming. Have you seen a ghost? Have you seen the Loch Ness Monster? Were you abducted? The Light at the end of the tunnel in your spare seconds in death?

Then you are back here. Here in the world. The world where people want to know the ingredients of Pop Tarts. Where calories need to be measured. A world with holes in the ozone and death as a possibility of natural sex.

You’ve seen something beyond the realm of our common existence and now you have to interact with your loved ones. Do you tell them? Can you not tell them?

Tomorrow The Iron Giant befriends you whilst hiking in the forest. Do you NOT call CNN? How could you not? But what if when they get there.... he’s gone. This big ‘whatever’ is gone and you are left holding the wind and waving your hands about and gesturing wildly.

BUT WAIT... there’s more. In addition to all of the trouble that will cause... Whatever this great ‘whatever’ you saw did to you, left remainders. Leftovers... psychic impressions. Little fragments of images and tidbits of knowledge. Just enough to eat at ya. Just enough to keep you from being able to function.

I LOVE THAT in this film. How Dreyfuss recognizes something in a shape... He doesn’t know what. He’s had mashed potatoes a hundred times at least and never felt it meant Jack until now. And whatever it means... he knows it’s important.

He’s compelled to figure out what this vague shape in his mind’s eye is. He wishes it wasn’t there. His wife has left him, he struggles and fights with it. But he can’t let go.... cause it won’t let go of him.

What happens to Dreyfuss in this film... I just love. And in David Koepp’s A STIR OF ECHOES it is also done very very well, but in combination with John Williams’ amazing score... which really goes so far beyond a mere score. It becomes the language of the last 15-20 minutes of the film.

This film is so utterly breathtaking with the confidence of it’s storytelling, execution and acting that I can’t help but wonder... What happened?

You know. Spielberg may not have won Best Director or Best Film with CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND... But he did win us. All of us viewers that just fell in love with his stories. He used to tell stories of our time. The most glorious stories from our period. I loved his exploration of the common man to bigger than known events.

Watching a movie like DEEP BLUE SEA, which while being a fun distraction, doesn’t have an ounce of the character development and long time entertainment repeatability of a movie like CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

This film, for me, is unassailable. It’s this gleaming gorgeous better than CG film, made of magic lights and lens flares. The look in Dreyfuss’ eyes. He’s seeing these things. I believe it. I know it. There is a fervor to him, an honesty to his consuming thirst to understand what it is he has seen.

Then there is the whole cross-cutting of the ‘government’ side of the story, and it does not feel forced or hooky. The government is everybit as in awe of these things as the normal men and women of the world are. They want to be able to understand their placement in the universe. They want to be able to figure it all out. To see if it is a threat. To ensure that it does not become one.

I love that.

And if there has ever been a more breathtaking religious experience of an ending to a movie on par with the end of this film I am just not familiar with it.

That ship, that natural wonder, and the utter significance of mankind in the scheme of it all. It’s breathtaking.

I love that. I don’t think I ever breathe during that end sequence. I am so completely unaware of the world I’m in at this point. There are no seats, no fellow viewers, no screen. It’s really happening. This isn’t a recreation, this is a happening AS I WATCH IT! For me, it’s that involving.

There were two skips on the Digital Track and I felt an actual physical reaction. My entire body was racked with shivers and the breath left my body in an audible gasp of panic. But thankfully the sound returned. For the briefest of moments it shocked me to reality, and I didn’t want to be here. I like THAT world more.

Can you imagine being there for real? To know without a doubt that we are not alone. To find out that we have a significance in the grand scheme of the universe other than merely occupying this planet of ours.

Call me wacky, call me a kook, but everytime Copernicus comes back from the Observatory I ask if he saw the aliens yet. It’s a standard routine. One of those... Who knows... maybe he’ll tell the truth this time about what he learned as part of SETI.

Meanwhile, I let my computer go on searching for intelligent signals whilst I sleep. It’s Spielberg’s fault. He is directly responsible for my kookiness. But I want to be there for the lightshow. I’m ready for zero-G. I want my flying car. Teleportation. I want little medical scanners that fix things. I want robot servants and pneumatic tube driven transportation. I want Aliens with out cookbooks that want a fat second mate or cook aboard their ship.

I never ever want a sequel to this film, but I glory in the wondering about what happened next. Where’d he go and what did he see?

Strange isn’t it how attached we become to the concepts these movies place in us?

When the film was over, I couldn’t stop singing them damn notes or picturing them last few minutes of the film.

I love this film. I remember watching this film as a kid and being provoked into asking the big questions like, “Are they going to eat him?”

And then being told that not all Aliens kill humans. And that’s when I wanted to meet em. I figure I got a 99 in 1 shot of not being eaten, but ya know.... Every person dies, but not every person gets eaten by an alien. That’s a cool way to go. And if I am too filled with cholesterol.... well maybe they’ll let me sauté up some skinnier folks for the feast.

I just want to travel into deep space and have cool science fictiony gadgets. Yeah... I’m pretty shallow. But gosh, wouldn’t you want to go (of course if it meant leaving all your friends and family and loved ones FOREVER, that’d suck. I wonder if they’d accept the whole AICN gang. I’m sure they’d let me check email from up there. I mean, they’re really really smart... right?)

Sigh. What a movie!

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 2, 1999, 3:41 a.m. CST

    Who's on First?

    by AttorneyFrog

    Thanks, Harry, for another great review. Close Encounters ROCKS! The first movie to show Speilberg as the genius he truly is. Robert

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 3:52 a.m. CST

    People dismiss Spielberg. You shouldn't do that.

    by Nordling

    I really don't have the time to write a longer post here, or I could seriously get into my argument. People hack on my man Steve, but they seem to forget that when you watch one of his films, you are completely immersed into his worlds. Shit, i'm going to be late. more later, if possible. IRON GIANT TONIGHT!!!!!

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 4:03 a.m. CST

    Mulder & Scully

    by Jonte

    X-files owes everything to this movie.

  • Steven Spielberg is one of the four or five best directors alive. I believe that future film history will place him on a pedestel of equal height of those raisinf Hitchcock, Kurosawa and Fellini - not because his films are like theirs, but brcause they're as original as their's are (that he may not seem so original to you is due to the fact that half the directors alive actively imitate him). I've wondered why he doesn't get as much respect as he deserves from the film cogniscenti (sp?), and I think I've figured it out. First of all, he's too sucessful. Some people, especially all those failed filmmakers out there (you know who you are), can't overcome their bitterness and be happy with someone else's success. Also, some people instinctively dislike things that many other people like because they feel that, in doing that, they're asserting their own individuality. That's bullshit, and you know it. If there's one thing I've learned in my short life, it's that doing something because people tell you not to do it is as bad as doing something because they want you to. Do what YOU want - ACT, don't react. Don't be a noncomformist because you want to think of yourself as a nonconformist, but because you honestly don't agree with the issue at hand.------------ The second reason people don't like Spielberg is that he as a die-hard romantic in a cynical time. He defines the world by what he loves, not by what he hates, and I think that for that fact alone he deserves our respect. He creates worlds where people live and die by their ideals, where good things happen to good people. Now, you might say that the real world doesn't work that way, and you may be right - but the opposite isn't true either. If you want reality, open your door. If you want movies, watch Spielberg.

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 5:05 a.m. CST

    Amazing movie....but um...

    by Teko

    "Close Encounters" ranks waaay up there with my favorite films of all time, but will someone please take the damn thing out of Spielberg's hands? We've had *SIX* separate versions of this film now, including a definintive-at-the-time "Special Edition", a recut "Director's Cut", a "Collector's Edition", and I forget what other buzzwords they used. I love this movie to pieces, but I wish Spielberg would let me know which of his many Final Versions is the one I'm supposed to watch and surrender myself to.

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 6:20 a.m. CST

    a religious experience

    by hologhost

    indeed. Imagine, if you will, two little 11 year old girls on a military base - going to their first "grown up" movie. It's only going to be there a few days, (because Military theatres work that way.) Desperate to to see this film, without really knowing why-so desperate that they both sat in the front row in a single seat, since the show was sold out. I don't think we noticed, or even moved through the whole film. We were transported to an amazing world where we saw that grown ups could be confused too. (Hey, we were 11.) Mystified and dazzled little minds opening like rosebuds to the ideas that only such positive visions can give. It was an absolutely incredible experience. One can argue endlessly about Spielberg's good and bad points, but nothing can take away from that night, or alter the fact that we were both changed forever. And that's what art is really about, isn't it?

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 6:51 a.m. CST


    by MinorityReport

    Hey guys. I too am a big Spielberg fan. Does anyone know of anymore information on Spielberg's latest project, MINORITY REPORT? I have created the biggest webpage on the net devoted to this one movie. Check it out!

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 7:49 a.m. CST


    by m2298

    You never saw the original CLOSE ENCOUNTERS cut? They ran a "combined" version several times on network television.

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 8:39 a.m. CST

    Spielberg's Best Movies Bring Out The Best In All of Us

    by Dingo Wrangler

    It's true. He is the one filmmaker who has mesmerized me, lifted my spirits and amazed me more than any other. Lucas tries for that, but his films just aren't up to snuff. I have never been so magically entertained by Star Wars as I have been by the first two Indiana Jones films. I have never fallen in love with another movie (aside from Ghostbusters, of course) the way I have fallen in love with Spielberg's early films. No action movie has ever thrilled me like Raiders. No movie about children has ever warmed my soul the way E.T. did. No horror movie has ever left me as shaken, yet so desperate to see it again, as Jaws. The Exorcist scared the shit out of me, but do I ever want to see it again? Hell no. That movie haunted my nights for months and I am NOT giving it the chance to do it again. Jaws, on the other hand, made me love the characters and really care if they lived or died. Every time Quint is onscreen I smile. Every time I see Dreyfuss say "This is not a boating accident!" I get chills down my spine. And every time the shark shows his ugly face I am enraptured by it. Then there is Close Encounters, another of his perfect films. This movie and ET are the best "good alien" movies ever made. The best "Bad alien" movie would be Alien or ALiens, depending on my mood at the time. Encounters makes you believe in its events and it, along with Dreyfuss (I cannot think of a more underrated actor) makes you appreciate how difficult this situation would be. I love when he is frustrated by building his model of Devil's Tower and goes into the yard, crying. There is a power and truth in that moment that carries the entire film. The moment he has the Devil's Tower revelation by seeing it on TV is one of my all-time favorite scenes. This is what movies should do. Saving Private Ryan is the only one of his modern movies that approaches the gripping, no-holds-barred storytelling of the old days. I don't know if I have ever seen a better movie about war. The only one that comes close, in my estimation, is Bridge on the River Kwai. Not simply for the Omaha Beach sequence, but for the whole movie. It was a revelation. But even Spielberg's lesser films (1941 and Lost World) are better than the mediocre films of most directors. If he were to make a movie that was as good as Close Encounters or Jaws or Raiders in this day and age... well, I would probably go insane and see it fifty times.. or as much as my crappy Wal-Mart paycheck would allow. When I go to the theater, I want to entertained, mesmerized, moved and inspired. Spielberg can do that. And, by God, I want him to do it again. And again. And again.

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 8:40 a.m. CST

    What Can I Say?

    by Goodgulf

    For any one who loves CE3K, you've said it all Harry. The original version was my favorite. The Special Edition sucked. I only have the Special Edition because I couldn't find the original anywhere. And the film asks so many questions about us as human beings - but not special humans, just the run of the mill folks who actually do all the work. Roy Neary's name seems derivative from the word "ordinary". Just a guy in an unusual circumstance that we all secretly want to happen to us. Not everyone, but those of us who love the film. Just as Harry said, we want the gadgets, the adventure. We want our own C-57D Flying Saucer with Robby the Robot and a compact version of the Krell machine to make our thoughts reality. Spielberg captures perfectly the dreams of all of us, while at the same time throwing in a dose of reality, showing how our obsessions affect our closest friends and relatives who do not share our vision. When CE3K first came out, I was an investigator for the Center For UFO Studies, founded by J. Allen Hynek (who had a brief cameo appearance in the film), and I set up a table with literature in the lobby of the theatre. Even in my relatively small town it was surprising how many folks stopped by to relate a personal UFO incident or anecdote. I've long since left the Center, but I still have my ID card (signed by Hynek). But the Center's work continues. Perhaps someday we'll have a definitive answer to all our questions about what people see in the skies, or remember under hypnosis as an abduction. Maybe someday.

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 9:49 a.m. CST


    by alcester

    what i liked about this movie was it was about real people! and i loved the advertising campaign for this film, the shot of the highway with the "glow" just over the horizon, i knew it was going to be a major movie event. its one of my favorite films. long live Spielberg!

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 10:45 a.m. CST

    Is anyone listening

    by Princpl Kahotec

    Interestingly enough, and though they were different movies, I find that Zemeckis tried to emulate Spielberg's reaching out to aliens film with his own in Contact. Thats not to say that Contact is on par with CET3K but I think the similarities are there. Which leads me to my final point, is there anything out there that has visited us. I have no doubt that it's possible life exists some where out there, but I have large doubts believing it has visited here. Movies like CET3K make us wish that a visit from life elsewhere would be glorious like that, while Aliens just wants to scare us with dumb lizards, but what if the life that exists is no more intelligent, no more advanced, and no more cohesive and peacefull a civilization than we are. A sobering thought because so many are sure that the life out there is better than the life here because of the horrors of this world. It seems to me that many are searching for that existence of peace that is higher than us, in a way many have replaced their faith in a benevolent God with their faith in a benevolent race of aliens. People are reaching out for this hope,and thats fine, but at somepoint they should understand that until that dream becomes a reality, it is still a fantasy.

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 11:19 a.m. CST

    Yeah..........which is which ?

    by RobinP

    I remember the original........seeing the Mother ship at the end was one of the defining moments in the cinema for me, then we got the Special Edition, which wasn't really very special......the best scenes lost, Neary's breakdown, the cop's line after the car chase,(which I remember was very funny, but I haven't heard it in 21 years so don't expect me to quote it) and included Neary walking into a big, overlit shopping mall. next, we got the Collector's Edition, Breakdown restored Cop's line still missing (shit !)and that irritating mall sequence cut (goodie). Now there's ANOTHER one ????? So, is the cop line in this ?

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 11:46 a.m. CST

    I remember...

    by Day4Night

    ...watching this film on either a a Coast Guard or Marine Base in Puerto Rico. (I was an Air Force brat; naval-themed military bases were all the same to me). It was a few years after the initial release of the film, so I knew a little bit about it, although I hadn't seen it yet. This theater may have even showed a 16mm print, but I didn't pay attention to those details at that time. All I remember was leaving the theater after having just experienced ("watched" is such a passive word for this film) what was to become one of the top 3 cinema-going moments of my life. As I waited for my ride, I stood at the edge of the parking lot, looking out over the waters of the Atlantic. The horizon between earth and sky was barely discernable through the blackness. But there were stars. Boy, were there stars. The heavens seemed to explode above me with the dance of a trillion flickering lights, each one offering the possibility of a new adventure, a new experience, a new life. They became the recipients of the heart-felt wishes - nay prayers - of a 14-yr. old kid who was willing to give up anything for the chance to board the Mothership and sail away to unknown destinations. I was so ready. I would have been the first on board the Mothership right then and there had that opportunity presented itself. Of course, it never did. But, then again, it didn't really have to. Every time I experience this film, my wishes come true. Thank you, Steven.

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 12:20 p.m. CST

    re me doe doe so

    by TopQuark

    I recently got the Collector's Edition of CE3K on laser disc, and like Harry was thrilled to see the omission of the Special Edition ending (ugh), and all the supplmentary stuff on the disc. Anyway, one thing I love about this film is the genuine delight it brings to me. The final 15 minutes are brillaint, and the entire musical conversation alwasy brings a huge smile to my face. Magic is an overused word, but that ending of this film IS magic. It evokes a kind of pure delight that few films do, and it can even make stoical me get a little watery-eyed just in the joy of the moment. The more I see CE3K I find I wish it had been the bigger hit than Star Wars. It's a better film all the way around.

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 5:47 p.m. CST

    I wonder....

    by ricky

    I wonder where the fucker that is going to say that CE3K sucks and Spielberg is a terrible director. Where are you? I know you're gonna show up, 'cause there's always a goddamn moron that says crap about anything just because everyone loves it, and he wants to be different. Even if it is such a masterpiece as "Encounters" is. I just saw it about a month ago for the first time, cause this country (Venezuela) is so goddamn movie-retarded that you cant get anything, not even at blockbuster, and that's like the best video club here, it doesnt even have "The Graduate" or "2001". They have the Godfather, but only part 3. this sucks

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 6:25 p.m. CST


    by Bean Bag

    I have tried to like this movie but I cant. Still there are some magic scenes in it! I think spielbergs best work is the more "independant" stuff he has done. His best movie that truly blew me away was Empire of the Sun. Schindlers was great, and Private Ryan was great though runined by the ending of it.I' m yet to see Amistad. They are his best those kind of movies. Not the pulp hollywood movies he does most of the time. I guess thats why im looking more forward to Geisher memoirs than reports of minoritys. He wastes his talent on a lot of movies I think. And I still think of all the indy movies as Lucas/Speilberg overwise Raiders would be my fave. Oh and of course! He did write Goonies!

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 6:57 p.m. CST

    hey, ETERNAL! you really need a hug...

    by Krinkle

    How can ANY human being dismiss "E.T" as a "KIDDIE SLUSHFEST?" That film is one of the few true masterworks of the film art. In writing, in acting (the best little boy performance ever), in cinematography, in absolute BEAUTY OF SPIRIT, "E.T." is the film that led to my interest in other films. I, nine years old, became aware that SOMEBODY MADE THAT. It didn't just happen on the screen magically. It was a man, Steven Spielberg. He made me FEEL that way, hyperreal. Empathy. For an apparently hollow soul like Eternal to slam such a glowing, humanistic piece of work is depressing (I don't know you,Eternal, I don't mean to be insulting--which I'm sure you WILL be in return--but I find that, in your various postings, you stand for everything I hate about the human condition. "It's still the same old story/a fight for love and glory", and you're the enemy. There's a big, beautiful world out there (to quote "American Graffiti"), sensual marvels that you will never understand if you stay pent up in your little boy world. "E.T." is more mature, more grown up, more important than ten thousand movies like "The Matrix". It's all about love, baby, and if you miss that, you miss everything.) Spielberg IS a master, I think Hitchcock's equal, with a little David Lean thrown in. On a four star scale, I rate his films as follows (indulge me here, folks): Sugarland Express-***1/2 Duel-***1/2 Jaws-**** Close Encounters-**** 1941-***1/2(guilty pleasure) Raiders-**** E.T.-**** Temple Of Doom-**** Color Purple-***1/2 Empire Of The Sun-**1/2 Last Crusade-**** Always-**1/2 Hook-*1/2 Jurassic Park-***1/2 Schindler's List-**** Lost World-*** Amistad-** Private Ryan-**** He's a master, a genius. Not a writer, sure, but a technical genius. Insanely literate in the language of film. Often pegged as "manipulative" by latent homosexuals who are afraid to cry, he is slowly maturing as a filmmaker. While "Empire Of The Sun" reeked of an unnecessary attempt to be "taken seriously", "Schindler's List"--just a few years later--is so level headed it could have been a Kubrick film. (And don't bother attacking me on the "latent homosexual" thing. I simply imply that when one's true sexual desires are impinged upon--like many tough young boys who only like other boys' company, and think that "bitches lie"--they can manifest themselves in ugly ways. Like hating "E.T." because it inspired a dreaded mothering reflex in their bosom, or posting an angry response threatening to rape my mother.)

  • Aug. 2, 1999, 9:52 p.m. CST

    Steven's multiple director's cuts

    by blueboy

    Somebody help me out here--does anybody know a little more specifically how this latest version of CE3K differs from the other various ones that are out there? The ones I know of are the original I saw in the theatre back in '77, the Special Edition from '80, the ABC-TV network version which was a sort of hybrid between the two, and one that has been playing for the last couple of years on TNT and some pay-tv services like Cinemax. This most recent one is, I think, the honest-to-God original, and if it is, it's much different than I remember it being. The timing of the cutting is quite different in a lot of places (for ex: when Truffaut unveils the 5 tone code to the scientists in the auditorium, and they start clapping, the cut comes before the last tones play out, and you can only just see them start to applaud-you can't hear them. It's a very disorienting cut compared to what i'm used to from the special and hybrid editions) This version also has some extra stuff, like in the Wyoming sequence, Mr. Carl "Apollo Creed" Weathers plays a menacing National Guardsman threatening to shoot Neary if he's a looter. Anyway, anybody know what's up with this version, is it the original, or is it one of the other, later, "director's" editions? Oh, yeah, robinP, I think you were thinking of the decrepit farmer dude, not the cop, with the funny line from the original version, and that line is, right after the UFO's zoom over Barry and his mom on that mountain road, he says: "They may fly rings around the moon, but we're years ahead of them on the highway." Anyway, this is a good discussion, surprisingly civil and with a minimum of "fuck" thrown around. IMHO on Speilberg, he was a tighter, more fun filmmaker when he was younger, and it'd be nice to see him do something along the lines of Jaws, CE3K, or Raiders again. It's kind of weird how he has developed in the last 15 years; on the one hand pumping out crap like The Lost World, which I think ranks with Armageddon as one of the worst recent cinematic disasters, yet making the sublime and powerful Empire of the Sun, Schindler's List, and Private Ryan, which are masterpieces that surpass in many ways his earlier work. It seems Spielberg is a guy who can turn himself off and just go thru the motions for a paycheck, which is a shame. If he could put the kind of imagination and energy into his action/entertainment movies that he used to, we could have some very cool movies to go to. Oh, yeah, I also wish he would START AUTHORIZING DVD RELEASES!!!

  • Aug. 3, 1999, 12:28 a.m. CST

    One of the Great Ones.

    by MagykElf

    This incredible film is one of my all time favorites for many reasons. I was still in my "Star Wars Trance" when I first saw CE3K. I just remember being impressed by the Mothership at the end and the friendly alien with the big eyes. It was not until later as I matured that I came to appreciate how great this film truly is. I missed the original theatrical version over the years. The "Special Edition" just did not do it for me, but that was all you could find anywhere. I am so happy to have the Collectors Edition. It is the movie I remember seeing in the theatres that magical summer of 1977. This film is also special because it is the last we'll probably see of the original Spielberg style. Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's are good films, but steven lost his "touch" even in those "serious" films. He even admits that he could NEVER make a film like CE3K today. He has changed too much. Long Live this version of CE3K and let's have that DVD version out right away!

  • Aug. 3, 1999, 3:56 a.m. CST

    I looked up and saw...

    by Pseudo

    The thing I remember most about seeing CE3K was walking out of the theater and looking up. It was the middle of the day, but man I just couldn't take my eyes off of the sky. I waited 'till night and climbed out on the roof and just stared for hours (my mother had to wake me up to come in). The cinematography in that movie was spectacular, it's not just any movie where you're watching people in the audience react to what's up on the screen as though they're there themselves, and the performances were all riveting. Mr. Dreyfus deserved the Oscar more for CE3K than "The Goodbye Girl." It's twenty some years later and I still like to go out to the mountains here and just stare out at the sky for hours, and yes sometimes I hear those five simple notes whispering through the air. By the way, re. remarks made previously about "E.T.", it was a film made for kids...the kid inside of us. I don't believe that an alien would come down here and get addicted to Skittles, but there is that definate "Hey, wouldn't that be cool?" element there. That doesn't, however, justify it beating "Blade Runner" for best visual effects. Damn politics. Cheers, ??Pseudo??

  • Aug. 3, 1999, 9:09 a.m. CST Magykelf..

    by pianoman99

    FIrst of all, CE3K came out in November of 1977 not the summer, as you incorrectly noted, and second of all---you didn't realize until LATER that this was a great film? I saw it the same year (10 yrs old then)as you, and was in the Star Wars mania, too, but I realized at the moment I saw Close Encounters its importance and grandeur. And, hello everyone---I got the Collector's Ed. LD LAST summer, and saw a reissue this past MArch in Boston, here...was everyone sleeping? I have to note the exclusion of a couple scenes though that didn't need to be: the early Power Station 'conversations' and Roy's "that's not right" comment on a pointy-shaped pillow he lays next to at the end of his discovery that he got fired sequence at his house. All time favorite Williams score, too. From Steven in Boston....bye, y'all!

  • Aug. 3, 1999, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Spielberg is a genius

    by Private Ryan

    Steven Spielberg is a genius. I have loved almost every film of his- except 1941- I couldn't stand that movie. He has created some brilliant masterpieces like Saving Private Ryan (which was the best film of the decade in my book) and Schindler's List, while also creating great mainstream genre films, like Jurassic Park, and the last two films in thrIndiana Jones trilogy.. And sometimes his movies are both mainstream and masterpieces- like Raiders, Jaws, E.T., and Close Encounters. Most of the films mentioned above are among my favorites of all time. That is why he is such a geniuos. I can't wait for Minority R

  • Aug. 3, 1999, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Spielberg is a genius

    by Private Ryan

    Steven Spielberg is a genius. I have loved almost every film of his- except 1941- I couldn't stand that movie. He has created some brilliant masterpieces like Saving Private Ryan (which was the best film of the decade in my book) and Schindler's List, while also creating great mainstream genre films, like Jurassic Park, and the last two films in thrIndiana Jones trilogy.. And sometimes his movies are both mainstream and masterpieces- like Raiders, Jaws, E.T., and Close Encounters. Most of the films mentioned above are among my favorites of all time. That is why he is such a geniuos. I can't wait for Minority R

  • Aug. 3, 1999, 2:06 p.m. CST

    Spielberg is a genius

    by Private Ryan

    Steven Spielberg is a genius. I have loved almost every film of his- except 1941- I couldn't stand that movie. He has created some brilliant masterpieces like Saving Private Ryan (which was the best film of the decade in my book) and Schindler's List, while also creating great mainstream genre films, like Jurassic Park, and the last two films in thrIndiana Jones trilogy.. And sometimes his movies are both mainstream and masterpieces- like Raiders, Jaws, E.T., and Close Encounters. Most of the films mentioned above are among my favorites of all time. That is why he is such a geniuos. I can't wait for Minority R

  • Aug. 3, 1999, 2:22 p.m. CST

    One of my Great Joys

    by Joe Buck

    This is in my top 25 all time movies. It creates some of the most magical moments on film. I don't think any other movie has ever captured better, the possible mental effects of encounters with beings not of this world. I saw the new cut in March in Atlanta as part of Columbia's 75th Anniversary. This will always be one of my most treasured cinematic memories, because I got to see many great movies I never had the chance to see before on screen. THANK YOU COLUMBIA PICTURES!!!! I wish the other studios would do this. In fact Close Encounters was the only one I'd seen before in a theater. Other films shown were Easy Rider, Tootsie, Dr. Strangelove, Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, On the Waterfront, Taxi Driver, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and From Here to Eternity. The new cut basically combines most of the best stuff from the other movies but keeps the original ending. It has the ship in the desert, Carl Weathers, and I think all of Dreyfuss's "crazy" scenes.

  • Aug. 3, 1999, 7:33 p.m. CST

    CE3K Collector's Edition

    by landbote

    I for one was just thrilled to see this come out... of course, a DVD release would be nice, but we know what Spielberg's tune is on that. I did, however, rent a laserdisc player this weekend and this was one of the movies I watched. Whoa. It is so much better this way... but damn, talk about how much the X-Files owes to this movie!!!

  • Aug. 4, 1999, 1:38 p.m. CST

    Close Encounters

    by Ray

    Right on Harry! You and I are about the same age and this masterpiece holds the same magic I think for both of us. Thanks for a great review of a great film.

  • Aug. 5, 1999, 8:54 a.m. CST

    Re : The Director's Cut...

    by Jay Jay

    ...Get him a band-aid, quickly!!! Haw Haw Haw.

  • Aug. 10, 1999, 10:39 a.m. CST

    what's been lost

    by Vitak

    Harry's review didn't get into details, but this same version was screened in New York earlier this year. It is actually better than both the original 1977 cut and the "Special Editon." Not only was the 1980 ending removed and the oil tanker scene left in, but several shots were slightly altered and trimmed just a bit. No CGI, thank God. This screening and the screening of "Bridge on the River Kwai" the day before showed me just what's been missing from most American films over the last decade or so. These films are so much more original and magical than anything I've seen in recent years, and that's not nostalgia talking. They also treat the audience as intelligent participants in the action, rather than cynical, detatched onlookers. Many contemporary filmmakers seem to be so frightened of emotion that they retreat into camp or wiseass humor just at the point where the audience is about to be genuinely moved. Even "Phantom Menace" was cold and bland by comparison to these movies. Hopefully young filmmakers will react against this aesthetic trend and give us powerful stories on a grand scale once again.

  • Aug. 12, 1999, 10:33 p.m. CST

    Duel-A perfect example of Spielberg's genius

    by Cineman

    Duel is such an underrated film and it showed the makings of a man who would become one of the greatest directors of all time. I'm not sure how many of you have seen it but Spielberg shows that kind of will power as a filmmaker that made Jaws so great. Less is more. (SPOILERS!!) We never get to see that truck driver and that scares the hell out of me. We never get motive or identity. Nothing. Still, this film is one of the great suspense classics of all time.

  • Aug. 22, 1999, 2:52 a.m. CST


    by Flohr

    Hello Why doesn

  • May 29, 2000, 5:21 a.m. CST

    CE3K--STILL EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by mrwilliam

    In 1977, I saw two movies that were unlike anything I(or anyone else)had ever seen-STAR WARS and CE3K.20+ years later, and they both still stand high above a lot of dreck that followed. A lot of folks blame Lucas and Spielberg for "ruining" Hollywood--the truth is, things changed virtually overnight with no knowledge of how to follow up.And I do like CE3K a bit better than STAR WARS because I can relate to it more--so don't waste your time posting an argument!!!!!!

  • Aug. 19, 2006, 8:45 a.m. CST

    At Taco Bell, I had a close encounter of the turd kind.

    by Wolfpack