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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

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After an accidental encounter with otherworldly vessels, an ordinary man follows a series of psychic clues to the first scheduled meeting between representatives of Earth and visitors from the cosmos.

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'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' at 40

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's cultural phenomenon Close Encounters of the Third Kind with a look at images from the film.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 37 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Claude Lacombe (as Francois Truffaut)
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Wild Bill (as Warren Kemmerling)
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Shawn Bishop ...
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Justin Dreyfuss ...
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Storyline

Two parallel stories are told. In the first, a group of research scientists from a variety of backgrounds are investigating the strange appearance of items in remote locations, primarily desert regions. In continuing their investigation, one of the lead scientists, a Frenchman named Claude Lacombe, incorporates the Kodály method of music education as a means of communication in their work. The response, in turn, at first baffles the researchers, until American cartographer David Laughlin deciphers the meaning of the response. In the second, electric company lineman and family man Roy Neary and single mother Jillian Guiler are among some individuals in Muncie, Indiana who experience some paranormal activity before some flashes of bright lights in the sky, which they believe to be a UFO. Roy becomes obsessed with what he saw, unlike some others, especially in some form of authority, who refuse to acknowledge their belief that it was a UFO in not wanting to appear crazy. That obsession ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Now There Is More (USA 1980 special edition re-release) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

14 December 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

CE3K  »

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$132,088,635 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(special edition) | (original) | (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Roy Neary was originally meant to be 45 years old. See more »

Goofs

The mother ship is clearly several times larger than the circumference of Devil's Tower; therefore, it could not be hidden by it. The mother ship just appears out of nowhere, and the mass of clouds that appeared in the preceding shot are gone. However, Steven Spielberg has stated that this was entirely a stylistic directorial decision and special effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull stated that having the mothership first appear behind Devil's Tower gave it an immediate sense of scale. See more »

Quotes

Brad Neary: I don't understand these fractions.
Roy Neary: What's one third of sixty?
Brad Neary: [bewildered] That's a fraction, I don't understand them.
Roy Neary: [using a model train as an object lesson] Alright, let's say that this boxcar is sixty feet long, OK?, and one third of it is across this switch here, alright... And now another train is coming... Now, how far do you have to move this boxcar so that the other train doesn't smash it? Quickly Brad, there are thousands of lives at stake... Brad any answer...
[CRASH]
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Crazy Credits

In the 1980s special edition, the new musical edition features the end credits different, then the fades into well after the end credits to the black screen. See more »

Connections

Referenced in El erótico enmascarado (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Chances Are
(1957)
Words and Music by Al Stillman (as Al Stillman) and Robert Allen
Published by International Korwin Corp.
From the Columbia Records album "Johnny Mathis' All-Time Greatest Hits"
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Watch the 1977 Version Only, then Judge it.

The version of Close Encounters that you've seen on TV or video may not be the best version. For years I had watched a TV version of the film that combined parts of the theatrical cut and the special edition and I felt like it was decent, but somehow it seemed edited by an amateur. I chalked it up to a 70s approach towards special effects movies that lingered too much on visuals without having a plot. Decades later I finally watched the 1977 version on Blu Ray and realized it really was a much better film. Apparently, Mr. Spielberg was pressured to finish the film quickly and he wanted to spend more time on some scenes but it looks like the studio pressure was a gift. The 77 version of the film is more coherent and enjoyable. If you read the reviews that say the Richard Dreyfus character is obnoxious and unlikable, chances are that the reviewer saw the special edition (or a TV version that adds footage from that version into a poorly edited version of the film). Whichever version you watch, the character does have family problems but in the 77 version, you have scenes of Dreyfus on the job, some shorter scenes of him having a meltdown at home, and the pace isn't as slow because of Spielberg (or someone?) reshuffling other scenes to add the pointless Gobi Dessert sequence. Basically, it isn't just the fact that some scenes are a little shorter or longer, its the placement of those scenes. Brian De Palma once got a complaint that the pool hall scene in Carlito's Way was too long. But he said if felt longer because it was missing some shots that would make it more suspenseful. He added those shots, showed it to the studio, and they thought it was a shorter scene. Spielberg is usually great at creating suspense, but sometimes he messes it up. His original cut of Close Encounters got it right. It's the only version that I think really qualifies the film as a classic.


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