Classic Movie Review: Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, written and Directed by Steven Spielberg.
This story takes place in Wyoming in 1977. At the beginning of the movie weird things start happening, planes that went missing in 1945 show up in the Mojave Desert, people in India report hearing music come from the sky, and a commercial flight sees but does not report a UFO in their vicinity. Roy Neary, one of the main characters in the film, has what could be described as a close encounter while he’s in his truck. Late at night, a bright light lights up everything surrounding Roy’s truck and finally, his truck just shuts off. He sees the bright light, the spaceship, and he later gets sunburnt from it.
Roy then starts seeing a vision of a mountain- shaped object in shaving cream, in mashed potatoes and he knows that has to mean something. Other people have this vision too, like Jillian, she and her three-year-old boy are in their home when a bright, orange light pours in from outside and all of the electronics in the house turn on and her son, Barry, crawls out of the doggy door. By the time Jillian opens the door to go after Barry, the spaceship is long gone and whoever or whatever was inside of it has kidnapped Barry. Roy, trying to figure out what exactly his vision means, starts acting crazy and his wife, Ronnie, leaves to go to her sister’s house, taking their three kids with her. Roy finally sees his vision of the mountain-shaped object on the TV and decides to go there to find the answers he’s looking for. But the news reporter on the TV is saying that everyone from that part of Wyoming must evacuate because of “toxic nerve gas” in the area. However the “toxic nerve gas” is just an elaborate government cover-up to keep people away from where the aliens would make contact with humans. Jillian and Roy find each other, because they’re both heading to the same place and finally make it up the steep man-made mountain, where they see something that is nothing short of spectacular.
The aliens were actually sending out a message in the music people were hearing, and one of the people working with the government, Claude was able to figure out the message and figure out how to use music notes and tones to communicate back. The spaceship finally lands in front of all of the people on the base, mostly government and researchers searching for life on other planets. The spaceship opens and people start coming out of the spaceship, people who have been abducted. Some of the people are pilots from the planes that went missing in 1945, as well as people who went missing from different years too, and all of the people who came of the spaceship haven’t aged at all. Barry, Jillian’s son gets off the spaceship as well and is reunited with his mother. And finally, at the very end of the movie, we see the aliens come out of their enormous spaceship. Roy, and about fifteen other people, still seeking some answers decide to go on the spaceship with the friendly aliens. In the end, the spaceship flies off and everyone at that government base sees what they have been waiting to see for a long, long time, proof that “we are not alone.”
I believe the message that Steven Spielberg was trying to show his audience is that it’s possible that we are not the only race that exists, and there’s a possibility that in our endless galaxy there may be other forms of life out there. And, it is a far leap and possibly a long time coming(if ever), but someday we might figure out that there may be alien life forms living on other planets. In most movies about alien life, aliens are usually perceived as a threat or a danger to the human race, but in Close Encounters of the Third King the aliens were a peaceful race, perhaps just as curious as we are to the thought and possibility of other forms of life.
Spielberg and his crew did an amazing job conveying his story and showing mise-en-scene. One example of how he was able to use mise-en-scene for his film would be towards the beginning of the film when the spaceship comes out of the sky at Jillian’s house. In this scene the lighting and visuals are impressive, a bright, vivid, orange light shines into the house, through the keyhole in the door and also through the windows. Everything is pretty dark, except for the things that are illuminated by the spaceships orange light. Use also see a bluish-white light shine down the fireplace and as the camera is coming closer to her face, which is staring up the fireplace, Jillian finally closes off the fireplace before anything can get in. Another good example is when Roy is making a big, muddy statue in his home, from his vision of the mountain. The mountain is in the centre of the frame and the audience is looking up at it as if it is of huge importance to the story. Roy is to the left of the statue, looking at it in aw. The TV is in the far right corner of the frame showing the picture of the actual location of the thing Roy is looking for, of the mountain, and as a viewer, I knew that Roy was so close to finding the answers he has been searching for since his close encounter. My third and final example on how Spielberg did a really great job of conveying his story is when the government evacuating people to help cover-up the close encounters with the aliens so that they were able to set up a landing base for the alien spaceships.
To get all their equipment to Wyoming to set up the landing base, the government used trucks, cleverly disguised as a Piggly Wiggly truck, a Coke-A-Cola truck and a Baskin Robbins Truck. I thought that was a magnificent detail to Spielberg’s story and really helped show how a government could easily cover-up a situation like this, whether it would be to keep people in the dark about certain events or just to avoid panic. In my opinion, Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third kind had somewhat of mysterious ending, which in this case is a clever thing, sometimes it is good to leave your audience wanting just a little bit more.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND: 40TH ANNIVERSARY RELEASE
To celebrate an amazing 40 years, new 4K version of this classic was released to hit the anniversary of the 1977 original release. Following a rather limited one-week theatrical run which started 1st September 2017, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will eventually be releasing the new restoration on a three-disc 4K Ultra HD and a limited-edition three-disc 4K Ultra HD “Light and Sound” gift set If that wasn’t enough to make you ponder, there’s also an HD on a two-disc remastered Blu-ray.
Both the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD releases include three restored versions of the film, making these a MUST HAVE for fans, including the original 1977 theatrical version, the 1980 special edition and the 1997 director’s cut. UK readers can buy the Blu-ray here or if you’re after the 4K version, then this is here