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I am – Hercules!

Sunday nights are getting to be my favorite time of the week, thanks to these regular DVD dispatches from wily former contessa Alexandra DuPont.

Tonight is Steven Spielberg night for Alex, as she examines both “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and the first sequel to the master’s “Jaws” (with which, of course, Spielberg had nothing to do).

Thanks as always to The DVD Journal for the loan of these reviews. Here now the goddess’ take on “CE3K”:

Review by Alexandra DuPont                    

"Twenty years later, I look at (Close Encounters) and I see a lot of naiveté, and I see my youth, and I see my blind optimism, and I see how I've changed.... I look at Close Encounters and I see a very sweet, very idealistic odyssey about a man who gives up everything in pursuit of his dreams — or his obsession. In 1997, I would never have made Close Encounters the way I made it in 1977 — because I have a family that I would never leave. I would never drive a family out of house and home and build a papier-mache mountain in the den and then further leave them to get on a spaceship and perhaps never return to them. I mean, that was just the privileges of youth. And when I see Close Encounters, it's the one film I see that dates me."

— Steven Spielberg

"It was either too easy or too hard to get Steven Spielberg's attention. That's why he was such a great director: for him it had to be perfect small moments between people or Barnum & Bailey. Lots of directors were doing small moments but no one was doing the circus quite so well."

— Julia Philips, co-producer of Close Encounters,
in her tell-all memoir
You'll Never Eat Lunch in
This Town Again

*          *          *

I. Preamble

[box cover]Close Encounters of the Third Kind — finally arriving on DVD May 29 in its "Collector's Edition" incarnation — is a pitch-perfect film. But what pitch is being sounded here, precisely?

Make no mistake: This is a Hollywood classic, a deeply personal vision, and a unique object. I can watch it again and again, and fought bitterly for the chance to review it. But the Spielberg quote preceding this writeup really gets at one of the movie's central fallacies — a fallacy I want to expand on a bit.

Most of the comments I've read about CE3K dwell on its beautifully realized "We Are Not Alone" hookum and its wishful thinking about benevolent aliens and its stick-in-your-eye images and its nearly wordless final act and its music and its follow-your-dream humanism and of course its Douglas Trumbull-crafted special effects (which are probably the best-aged special effects of all time — other than maybe 2001's, a film on which Trumbull also worked).

I won't dispute any of that praise, because it's all well-deserved. But none of it gets at the movie's dark heart. Yes, its dark heart. CE3K is, first and foremost, an apologia for artistic obsession — a fantasy that says it's okay to abandon your family, break the law and destroy other people's property in pursuit of your dreams. In fact, the movie goes so far as to reward its obsessed protagonist with a literal glowing Nirvana.

Let's not spend too much time on the "content" end of the review: Hundreds of millions of people have already seen Close Encounters and formed their own vast opinions. Skip ahead to section IV. if you're only interested in the DVD specs and extras.

*          *          *

II. But first: Which of the gazillion cuts of Close Encounters are we watching here, precisely?

This disc contains the final "Collector's Edition" cut, released to home video and Laserdisc in 1998. According to IMDb's fascinating detailing of the myriad cuts of Close Encounters (a document way too long to distill here), the CE cut is "basically a 137-minute re-edit of the original version plus five sequences from the 1980 'Special Edition.' "

*          *          *

III. What's the story?

The stripped-down plot is fascinating in that is contains a great deal of conflict, but no clear antagonists — instead, it features two groups of obsessed protagonists, each racing toward a final confrontation with alien life, each distrusting the other.

Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is a lowly power-plant employee (and nascent child-man, obsessed with "Pinocchio" and toy trains). He sees a UFO — several, in fact. He is subsequently obsessed by the image of a mountain — an obsession that drives him to make ill-placed sculptures, which drive his harridan wife (Teri Garr) and beastly children to abandon him as a "crybaby" nut case (in scenes that any child of divorce will find deeply painful to watch).

But Roy's suffering is short-lived — as his disbelieving family is conveniently replaced by one better-suited to his consumptive mindset. Flaky single mom Gillian (Melinda Dillon), who's lost her son (Cary Guffey) to an alien kidnapping, ends up joining Roy on a cross-country journey to Devil's Tower, where UFOs are about to be officially received by a government team led by the equally obsessed Frenchman Lacombe (François Truffaut) — a man who, along with his tweedy interpreter (Bob Balaban), has spent the film tracking down clues and interviewing witnesses in preparation for a climactic alien encounter. (Of course, this being the movies, the aliens' universal language isn't numbers, it's music — and music scored within Western scale parameters, to boot.)

All of this builds to a frantic chase and effects-filled denouement, with climax piled upon climax — and with Roy's fixation rewarded by (a) a smooch from his more-understanding "wife" and (b) the chance to abandon everyone and "step into the light."

And so there you have it: a beautifully lensed tale of neglectful parents, unhappy families, and a retreat into creativity; the metaphor for driven artistic types is obvious. In fact, all Spielberg's personal obsessions are at play here — making CE3K his most personal film besides E.T. and Hook (a film about a man who also struggles with a childlike obsession, but ultimately turns back to his kids). All the Spielberg tropes are here in full force: wonder, all-consuming passion, absent father figures, youthful optimism, suburbia, magical salvation, the slow reveal. It's powerful, powerful filmmaking.

*          *          *

IV. So how about those extras?

Well, there aren't quite as many hard-core goodies as some DVD geeks would like — a score-only track would have been nice, given CE's abuse of music as a thematic device — but that's the simpering of obsessive-compulsives. This is an economical two-disc set, free of waste, and what's here is James dandy.

Disc I contains the feature, in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Surround, Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. Other reviewers have said the picture's a bit soft in places — but I'd argue instead that the picture's so good you can finally see the flaws in the effects compositing, if that makes any sense.

On Disc II, we find two Theatrical Trailers — a 4:37 version for the original 1977 release, plus a 1:47 version for the 1980 "Special Edition." The '77 trailer is essentially a behind-the-scenes featurette, walking you through the three stages of "Close Encounter" and interviewing cast, crew and UFO consultant. There's a decidedly old-school vibe to the proceedings, right down to the super-groovy split-screen effects and a narrator intoning, "It could happen to you." The "Special Edition" trailer is decidedly more modern (and better-preserved), and features the following narration: "When we saw Close Encounters for the first time, we wanted more. Now, there is more." (While the trailer's further promise to give us "the experience of being inside" may amount to mystery-wrecking dramatic suicide on Spielberg's part, it's damned good marketing.)

Next we find "The Making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Laurent Bouzereau's 1-hr.-47-min. collection of video interviews and behind-the-scenes stills, taped for the "Collector's Edition" Laserdisc (and released in truncated form at the end of the 1998 VHS). This plays more or less like a commentary track with its own visuals — which makes it, I suppose, better than a commentary track. Among the many highlights:

  • Talking-head interviews with Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, a very lively and funny Bob Balaban, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, now-twentysomething former child actor Cary Guffey, effects masters Douglas Trumbull and Dennis Muren, cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, composer John Williams, editor Michael Khan, animation supervisor Robert Smith, concept artist Ralph McQuarrie and modelmaker Gregory Jein;

  • Spielberg talking about abandoned concepts, plus actors he couldn't interest in the lead role, including Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman and Steve McQueen (whom SS remembers trying to drink with at a bar called "The Doom Room");

  • Dreyfuss referring at one point to "meeting with the writers," which sort of undermines that whole "written by Spielberg" credit (Paul Schrader is rumored to have taken a crack at the script);

  • Balaban's well-practiced anecdote about convincing the producers he knew enough French to land his role, which he didn't (at which point we cut to Spielberg, who says, "I think it's important for actors to lie in interviews....");

  • Tons of behind-the-scenes effects info — including how Trumbull manufactured his trademark lens-flare and atmospheric light effects, plus some truly embarrassing abandoned ideas that involved UFOs forming glowing corporate logos for McDonald's and Chevron;

  • Williams dishing about the struggle he and Spielberg had finding the film's trademark five-note signature;

  • Superb, instructive anecdotes about the tricks Spielberg used to coax a good performance out of 4-year-old Cary Guffey — one of them involving boxes and men in clown and gorilla suits;

  • Tons of bemused dish about the effects that didn't work — including attempts to "speed up" the aliens, lift Dreyfuss on wires, and (I kid you not) put an E.T. suit on an orangutan wearing roller skates. There is footage of some of these failed attempts, but not of the monkey, which is very sad;

  • And Spielberg, secure in his own talent two decades later, just ripping on his own bad ideas and general naiveté in 1975 and, best of all, disowning the interior mothership shots in the "Special Edition": "They said to me, 'We'll give you the money ... if you show us the inside of the mothership. Give us something we can hang a campaign on.' And so I compromised ... which I never should have done, because it should have always been kept a mystery." He's so right.

Moving along, we come to a generous "Deleted Scenes" menu, which features no fewer than 11 snipped scenes — almost 20 minutes worth of footage — in varying states of preservation. All the footage was slashed for a reason (either for pacing or, in many cases, because it simply doesn't work) but a few scenes manage to deepen character:

  1. "In the Desert" (:41), trimmed from the film's opening, features the government team pulling flight packs out of the recovered WWII fighters — and Lacombe telling the Balaban character, "Listen to me. You're not only going to translate what I say, but also my sentiments and my emotions."

  2. "Roy at the Power Plant (5:30) is easily the worst and most expendable of the cut scenes. It's narrative padding that features power-plant managers bickering and assigning Roy to a crew, and Roy abandoning that crew and driving off when he hears the police reporting lights in a supposedly blacked-out area. Roy is, you see, worried about one of his men getting electrocuted, so he runs off to save him. Uh-huh. Get to the flying saucer.

  3. "Roy Gets Directions" (1:13) is more wisely trimmed padding, with our hero getting inexplicable directions from a fat guy in a blacked-out Dairy Queen parking lot. Amusing for the sarcastic, I-give-up grin Dreyfuss gets on his face as the directions get more and more convoluted.

  4. "At the Airport" (4:31) is just plain weird. After some scratchy leader tells us that footage of "Chicago O'Hare" will be inserted later, we get to see "Air Force Research and Development Command" commandeer an airliner that was buzzed by a UFO and politely take all the passengers' film. Meanwhile, in a limo outside the plane, Truffaut tells Balaban once again to "translate his feelings and emotions" — then tests Balaban by having him translate passages from a steamy romance novel.

  5. "At the Police Station" (1:44) finally answers a question I've had for years: Did the police officer who went off a cliff while chasing UFOs survive the crash? Why yes, he did — and he's being put on suspension by his sergeant for filing a full report. "I will NOT see this department pressed between the pages of the National Enquirer!" screams the sarge — which leads the other officers to change their reports, and prompts Roy to walk out of the station in disgust. This scene's notable for containing the first instance of Roy doodling Devil's Tower on a piece of paper.

  6. "At the Barbecue" is a pretty raw, un-foleyed scene featuring Roy and his wife Ronnie at a neighborhood gathering shortly after his first UFO encounter. Per his agreement with Ronnie, Roy keeps telling everyone his red face is a result of falling asleep under a "sunlamp," even as Ronnie spies on at him, concerned, from her klatch of housewives. Eventually, everyone stares at the sky for no easily discernible reason, and Roy fixates on a Devil's Tower-shaped Jell-O mold.

  7. "English Lessons" (1:21) is a little throwaway in which Balaban awakens Truffaut and tells him, "The trucks are rolling! Congratulations!" (Interestingly, after arguing he should be the one to tell Lacombe the good news because he speaks French, the Balaban character speaks to Truffaut in English.)

  8. "On the Roof" (1:47) features Roy spacing out on a makeshift observatory platform he's erected atop his house; one of his sons climbs up and tells him dinner's ready while Roy stares into space, ignoring the wee child. Adds nothing; Roy's demeanor inconsistent with other manifestations of alien obsession; sort of cruel to son; glad it was cut.

  9. "Leaving Town" (1:27) features additional footage of Roy navigating livestock and hayseeds as Wyoming is evacuated by the military — plus an appearance by none other than Carl "Apollo Creed" Weathers, playing an MP who warns the suspicious-looking Roy, "We've got orders to shoot anyone caught looting around here, 'Smith'.... Pass the word."

  10. "At the Gas Station" (2:00) is this strange little Lynchian moment cut from Gillian and Roy's barrier-breaking drive to Devil's Tower. As they're filling up at an abandoned filling-station pump, Gillian spots four helicopters flying by; one of them breaks off for a closer look at the fugitives. As the chopper hovers, Roy yells, "Extra! Extra!" and waves his arms — at which point one of the Army 'copter crew takes a snapshot and flies away, leaving our heroes unmolested. Huh?

  11. And finally, we have the infamous "In the Spaceship" (2:54) — the "Special Edition" footage that reveals the mothership interior. Aside from its inherent mystery-smashing elements, there are quite a few things curious and/or maudlin and/or lame about this sequence. For one thing, it ends up looking like nothing so much as a deleted flying-car cityscape from "Blade Runner" — only with "When You Wish Upon a Star" playing in the background. (Yes, Disney is shamelessly sampled here.) Then there's the fact that Dreyfuss looks quite a bit more clean-shaven than he ought; that the ship's interior is in no way congruent with its exterior; and that the scene ends with Dreyfuss being sprinkled with magic dust. Thank God they relegated this to deleted-scene status; it deserves to exist as a curiosity, but that's it.

After all that, do you really need more extras? Good, because you don't get any — save for a 5:48 "1977 Featurette" that's basically a extended cut of the 1977 trailer, plus "Filmographies" for Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr and Melinda Dillon.

Doing her part for consumerism,

— Alexandra DuPont

  • Two-disc set
  • Color
  • Anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1)
  • DTS 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby 2.0 Surround (English), Dolby 2.0 mono (French, Spanish)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai
  • Theatrical trailers for original release and 1980 "Special Edition"
  • Documentary: "The Making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1:47)
  • Eleven deleted scenes
  • 1977 featurette
  • Filmographies
  • THX Optimode
  • Dual DVD digipak in paperboard slip-case

Readers Talkback
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  • May 20, 2001, 10:50 p.m. CST


    by talkinghead

    do we really need special editons of all movies..i just want to see them the way they were

  • May 20, 2001, 11:14 p.m. CST

    What a strange view about CE3K being dark...

    by carterburke

    Roy wasn't chasing his dreams or following his heart when he left his family, he was responding to an implanted, uncontrollable obsession by the aliens. He didn't run off to join the circus; he went partially insane. It was made VERY clear in all cuts of the film that he despised his obsession with Devil's tower and couldn't comprehend it. Ultimately the picture was more about a 'higher calling' than following a self indulgent fantasy or dream.

  • May 20, 2001, 11:24 p.m. CST

    As for the Speilberg quote,

    by carterburke

    as we all know everyone in hollywood is a flake regardless of talent. I think he is saying he would have made a different kind of movie now, allowing Roy to fulfill his destiny but not leave his family in the process. To extrapolate that quote to the point of redefining the core of the picture is an error imho. The movie speaks for itself.

  • May 21, 2001, 12:23 a.m. CST

    St. Buggering...

    by Jonte

    First five notes of "When you wish upon a star" with minor alterations? That's quite a stretch, don't you think? OK, even if it was a version of "When you...", which alterations should be made to come up with the "perfect" combination? Could it be a "struggle" to come up with the new signal?

  • May 21, 2001, 12:28 a.m. CST

    another fine review by alexandra dupont...

    by Nexus-6

    i love her reviews because they are so in depth, actually giving examples of the content instead of just saying that the content is there. great review, much better than the other writer(s?) at dvd journal. oh, and i'll be buying this one soon.

  • May 21, 2001, 12:31 a.m. CST

    oh, and one more thing...

    by Nexus-6

    another film which the effects have aged REALLY well on... bladerunner. another douglas trumbull production as i recall. where is this guy now?

  • May 21, 2001, 3:33 a.m. CST

    I agree with Carterburk

    by DoggyDaddi

    Im a bit sorry Dupont felt what happened to Dryfus's character was dark and uncomfortable. Have you aver had a song stuck in your head, that just REFUSED to go away, no matter WHAT you tried to do? His situation is probably 10x's that. Its an obsession that eats away at him, and NO-ONE will truely listen to him, or believe in him. Its like having a 3rd stage Migrain and trying to tell folks about it, and you just get a dismissive wave of the hand and patranizing nod with "Oh yeah, I get those all the time". Its madening!! To top it all off, he cant even describe to them what is really happening in his head. Its like hearing a combination of instruments playing a tune in your imagination, and not knowing a damn thing about music, so you cant tell anyone! How could he NOT turn to someone who at least understands what hes going through on a certain level? The pain doesnt go away, sure, but at least its SHARED. **Don't start on me about the whole 'child of divorce' crap. I grew up for 13 years listening to my parents treat each other like dried slug trails. My Grandfather once cold-cocked my grandmother during Thanksgiving Dinner, leaving her stretched out on the floor next to the table, dinner spilled all over the floor, and my parents dragging us to the car. I remember my Father packing up his stuff and leaving, making me the NEW focus of my mothers lunacy. NONE of it effects the way I appreciate this movie. It was a 2 hour 'moment of wonder', childish and nieve, and wonderfully done (except the new interior scene.. BLEAHG!), and touched a part of me that no other film really ever had or has. Im looking forward to this along with BTiLC :)

  • May 21, 2001, 6:41 a.m. CST

    "When you wish upon a star"

    by Jonte

    Of course "When you wish upon a star" is used in the special edition, I'm not deaf ;) However that was not the issue here, the issue was if the alien 5-note "signal" was based on the first five notes of "When you wish upon a star", with minor alterations". I've been thinking about this all day and must say that if you count the first verse (where the lyrics go:"When a star is born - They possess a gift or two"), you may have a point. I thought of the chorus only. However, I don't think it changes the fact that some serious thinking must be behind that 5-note phrase. Even if Spielberg and Williams decided to borrow from Disney, they still had to decide what notes to change, and by which interval. I think it happened by coincidence. (Sorry for poor language)

  • May 21, 2001, 6:46 a.m. CST


    by Jonte

    Change the last sentence to: I DON'T think it happened by coincidence. Sorry! =)

  • May 21, 2001, 7:13 a.m. CST


    by Jonte

    Of course it's not a stretch that Spielberg would like topay homage to disney in the alien-signal. I meant to say that the stretch was that the signal was based on "When you..." with MINOR alterations. If John Williams said that he based the signal on the song, well, then it's probably true. But I doubt he called it MINOR alterations. (I'll just shut up now, I've said to much for one day =)

  • May 21, 2001, 8:33 a.m. CST

    Williams on the 5-note theme

    by WizardX

    This is DIRECTLY from the liner notes of the CD rerelease from a couple years ago. So if you want to say the theme was based on "When You Wish," then you're explicitly contradicting Williams... (ahem) "...I remember writing maybe 250, 300 of these things. (5-note phrases) I had a few meetings with Steven to play him all of these little themes, and we could never figure it out. We never we able to say, "Eureka! This is exactly the one we want!" And I love to tell this story because I thought we'd exhausted everything." ... (He goes on to talk about calling a mathematician and discovering there were over 130,000 combinations) "... So we realized that we had barely begun to explore what could be done with five notes. So finaly, in exasperation, we circled one of them. The next day we came back and I tried some more notes, and Steven said, "Play the one we circled yesterday." And we kept going back to that one. So finally he said, "Well, I guess that's it. It must be the best we have."

  • May 21, 2001, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Dare I say it...

    by Halloween68

    I'm becoming bored with Speilburg. I'm getting bored with his whole attitude towards filmmaking. Risking sacrilege here, but he's letting his age and his love of family get in the way of his film making. I am so happy that he is having a happy life and I'm thrilled that he has developed a strong moral fiber. But does he have to let it affect his work? Close Encounters was a wonderful film. So the man was obsessed with a dream or a fantasy. Come on. What's wrong with that? Look at how well the film did and still does. Obviously people can relate. They want to beleive. Look at the success of the X-Files and tons of other alien's in our midst shows. People love the idea of alternate realities. Escape from the norm. Close Encounters was one of the first films to successfully play off of that idea. I would ask Speilberg why would you go back and ruin that wonderful idea. Why would you make it different? You going to throw more cute kids in there to fend off the aliens with balloon animals? This is a different type of film that serves a different kind of idea. It's not about Joe Family Guy who takes the wife and kids up to endor to visit the ewoks. And for your information, at least at how it comes across to me, the family leaves him, he doesn't leave his family. It seems, and here this is what I thought the film was about to begin with, that the whole thing was about one man's quest for the truth and about the naivity of the unbelievers (or those refusing to believe). Nothing wrong with that story. I just want Speilberg to go back to remaining true to his story and his characters, something he seems to be getting away from as of late. He seems to want to tug on everyones harp strings or sweeter side. Even in Private Ryan, there's the seen with the old man at the grave yard that makes me cringe every time. Don't mean to offend, just to stress a different opinion. Just don't go back and cut on your old films because you've aged and have a different perspective on life. Close Encounters was a great film.

  • May 21, 2001, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Older, wiser Spielberg

    by tbrosz

    Sorry, but I have to totally agree with Steven (in the statement he makes in this review) on this one. As a parent with two kids, I see the idea of leaving your family in the lurch to go anywhere, even to another solar system, as a really rotten thing to do. If you don't have a family of your own, there may be no adequate way I can explain this. Some people have theorized that Roy was "hypnotized" and had no choice, but I did not see this when I watched the movie. Note that Gillian did not ditch HER kid given the same opportunity. Oh, yeah, it's appealing to think about Getting Away From It All sometimes, "Leaving the Straight Life Behind" as the song says. But like Spielberg says, this is a privilege of youth. By the way, along similar lines, it's worth noting that "Hook" is a completely different movie if you are a father, than if you are not. I liked it, in spite of some of its excesses, while many others did not.

  • May 21, 2001, 11:52 a.m. CST

    Who's story is it anyway?

    by Saltheart

    In response to Spielbergs comment about not making the film that way today, I think thats a shame, after all, he;s not telling his own story, he's telling the story of Roy Neary, and i think its an important difference. As a father myself, i can see how leaving everything behind would be impossible for some. faced with that same circumstance, I really cant say what I would do, its rather fantastic after all. At least he isnt changing Close Encounters like E.T.! Last i heard he was going to change all the guns in that film into something else for its next release. I hope someone talked some sense into him.

  • May 21, 2001, 1:15 p.m. CST

    Amen about classic Spielberg vs. New Age Spielberg ... and a not

    by LiquidNitrate

    As a child engrossed by big-screen surround sound epics, my favorite director was Spielberg, as he was the master... a child-man dedicated to pure cinema escapism. I LOVED LOVED LOVED "Close Encounters." The guy who made "Jaws," "E.T.," "Poltergeist" and "Raiders" was sheer genius. But after he married Kate Capshaw, Steven began to change drastically in his view of the world, b/c Kate was far more influential than Amy Irving. (Kate transformed him into a Clinton-style Baby Boomer, which I regret.) By the late 80's I was sensing this difference in Spielberg's movies, and his new obsession with "mature" fare bothered me (and resulted in some boring box-office duds liked only by certain critics). I'm glad that "Last Crusade" turned out as well as it did, but I was HORRIFIED by "Hook." HOW I despised that theater experience. By the time we reached "Jurassic Park" there were only hints at Spielberg's former personality... little glimpses that reminded me of my favorite childhood director. Nowadays he's a totally different filmmaker. I am forever grateful for his early classics, but I know that he will never be making those kinds of movies ever again. Yes, Steven may be a great father and husband and a conscientious social crusader thanks to Capshaw. But @#$%&? she's eliminated his unique capability to make those kinds of great classic movie experiences anymore. Instead of honestly exploring from his heart and just being himself, now his movies are far more calculated and almost political with their cute little P.C. agenda-messages. Not only has Spielberg threatened to digitally remove the shotguns in the new Special Edition of "E.T.," but I half-fear that Capshaw will make him go back to "Poltergeist" and remove Craig T. Nelson's Reagan book. I hope to enjoy "Minority Report" and "A.I." since they are a return to sci-fi, but after "Sixth Sense" and "Pay it Forward" I can hardly stomach Haley Joe Osment, so if Steven goes emotionally overboard I may have to yack in the nearest trash bin. ... DOUGLAS TRUMBULL: After winning so much prestige for his awesome FX work on "2001," "CE3K" and "Blade Runner," Trumbull tried to go his own route with 1983's tragic box-office disappointment "Brainstorm" which he personally directed (having already cut his teeth on "Silent Running"). By the mid-nineties Trumbull was masterminding Showscan virtual reality theme-park rides (the most prominent of which was perhaps the "Back to the Future" attraction at Universal). ... PS... Does anybody know if Warner Bros. is working on a Special Edition DVD of BLADE RUNNER? I had heard rumors that it was going to have extensive making-of material, interviews, a Syd Field futurama analysis, a Ridley commentary, and branching options offering both the original 1982 cut (with Deckard narration and extended finale) as well as the leaner 1992 version. But lately I haven't heard any more buzz about this.

  • May 21, 2001, 1:42 p.m. CST


    by BadAshe

    Is this thing gonna have that spoof "Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind" or whatever that was called? If not I'll pass on it.

  • May 21, 2001, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Yes, dear god, someone agrees with me...

    by Halloween68

    Thanks Saltheart, Kamehameha. Thanks for your insight. I totally agree. Early Spielberg was much more... Free spirited... He had more balls to his work. Feels like he's limited by his own ideals. And yes, amen, Close Encounters was about Roy's life, not Spielberg's. Didn't know all he was directing was bios now. And also, once again, ROY DID NOT LEAVE HIS FAMILY, HIS FAMILY LEFT HIM. He tried to get them to come along and experience what he had experienced. They could care less what he saw. At least the wife couldn't, who actually came off as a very nasty person. I felt they would've been better off apart. Neither understood the other. How's that for family values? I still liked Private Ryan for the most part (except for the crying at the gravesite bit: violens, violens) and I'm looking forward to A.I. Although the little Haley Joel kid is getting a little over exposure. Maybe we can put him in a movie with Woopie, John Goodman, and Cage next and not go see it. It's 2 yrs we want have to deal with them. Sorry. Is that mean? But here's to the old Spielberg. Maybe he'll resurface. Hope so. He's a brilliant director. Just needs to separate his personal values from his from the values of the characters in his films. Family man isn't always the role to play in a film.

  • May 21, 2001, 2:35 p.m. CST

    Shrubs through the window!

    by VibroCount

    Yes, please let this be a version where Neary throws the shrubs through the window! Without that scene Neary DID seem like he abandoned his family on a whim. As for rebuilding movies, art exists in time... no art is perfect, otherwise, why would an artist ever be driven to create anything else. Artists who keep fiddling with finished works are simply contemplating their navel, without exploring the rest of life. Ferinstance, when they rebuilt Blade Runner, the ending finally made sense, but too many scenes needed the narration to be understandable at all... without the narration, the snake woman had no reason to run away & be gunned down, with the narration it was merely clumsy, not indecipherable. And indecipherable is what the "Special Edition" of CE3K was, all right. I dunno, I think DVDs out to be issued with all available cuts of a film (as one purchasing option). As much as I enjoy the recutting of "Touch of Evil" to Welles' memo, why do I have to compare it on DVD to an older VHS tape to see the original theatrical version? Give us tools, not frustration, DVD creators!

  • May 21, 2001, 3:22 p.m. CST


    by yeah i'm a jerk!

    i have to say that hook was the most boring steven spielberg film ever. it may have been a personal vision for him, but it was torture for me to sit through it. by the time robin williams becomes peter pan and saves the day the film ends. this one made robin williams' popeye look like a masterpiece. ce3k on the other hand was a film that i feel spielberg could never top himself on. it was a vision of genius that still holds up. i am anxiously awaiting the dvd.

  • May 21, 2001, 4:06 p.m. CST

    The problem with a story that achieves Superconductivity.

    by Lobanhaki

    What? Superconductivity is a state in a conductor that is achieved by extreme cooling in which it offers no resistance to the electricity going through the wires. Some stories are unfortunately superconductive to their protagonists. They let them get through with little resistance. This is what makes CE3K such a great movie. Normally, in Hollywood, there is this tendency to avoid potentially problematic situations with the character, to make them single (so a romance can be inserted cleanly) to make them twenty to thirty something (so they don't have families, careers,) to make them American, and on and on. The problem is, they create free floating characters, who can't be touched, and aren't hindered by any existing life. But in CE3K, that is not the case. We have a working class fellow who has something to lose, and DOES, but in the process gains a truly transcedent experience. Whatever Spielberg said, it's the fact the characters touching and being touched by the other wordly UFOs and aliens tears him apart from all he values that makes it so dramatic. It's dirty, it's tragic, it's something that binds the film to the earth, at the same time that it's reaching for stars. So here's to a movie which doesn't let the hero off easy.

  • May 21, 2001, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Dont CGI it out.

    by cooper2000

    I had read that he wanted to CGI the guns out of E.T as well. He should leave his films the way they were. Thank god he didnt change this movie. I cant wait to have it part of my collection. Now please release a Poltergeist "Special Edition" and a Raiders Special Edition. Oh yeah, Color Purple too.

  • May 21, 2001, 8:22 p.m. CST


    by WizardX

    Put forth before? That doesn't lend it any more credence. Not only is that story in the record, but they came up with the five-note theme months before filming started. So you're saying that Spielberg already had decided to put When You Wish over the end credits a year and a half ahead of time, then told Williams about his idea, and the two of them conspired to "sneak" a reference into the motif, and then lie about it in public for 20 years? That's a LOVELY conspiracy theory, and has about as much credibility as one. It's, at worst, a coincidence, and at best, simply banal - it's not like starting a tune with a perfect second is a particularly revolutionary idea.

  • May 21, 2001, 8:33 p.m. CST

    um, turned into a bit of a ramble on this one

    by Saltheart

    Now that I think of it, I suppose that you could compare Neary's going into the mothership as a death/rebirth metaphor. And in order to be reborn, a part of you has to die. (hrm... can you become re-dead?) I can only hope that his decision to fix Close Encounters means that he is starting to understand the importance of not screwing around with original works. I mean, makes it kind of hard to fight colorization of films and such when you decide to censor your own films! Though, now that i think of it, the natives in the original King Kong were pretty racist, perhaps we can CGI it so they are a more "multi-ethnic" bunch of folks, nobody would notice that would they? and it wouldnt accect the story. Heck, some argue that Kong himself can be viewed as a racist stereotype, why dont we make him a ferret? I dont think anyone would find that offensive. And the whole king thing, how sexist! Ruler Kong Whe enjoys teasing the multi-ethnic umbrella drink drinker on his/her little island paradise. *shudder*

  • May 21, 2001, 11:37 p.m. CST

    St. Buggering

    by Jonte

    Just because you are tired of hearing something, doesn't necessarily mean that it's not true! =) Maybe if you showed some music theoretic analysis... I just don't think the melodys are that similar. And WizardX: Thanks, my point exactly.

  • June 4, 2001, 8:35 a.m. CST

    McDonalds sign in CE3K DVD

    by tls246

    Is it my imagination, or does the McDonalds sign we see as the lights are going out say "Over 24 Billion Served?" Seems to me that in the late seventies, these signs said "Over 6 million served," and indeed, I remember watching this same scene a few years ago on another edition and thinking, "Boy, things have changed" when I saw the old style sign. Is there some kind of CGI silliness going on here? Did Columbia-TriStar give in to pressure from McDonald's to bolster their apparent popularity in 1977? What the hell?