Posted in Blog Posts

C is for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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Richard Dreyfus plays Roy Neary, a family man who has a UFO experience when driving home one night. His car is drowned in a bright, white light and the electrics break down. From that moment on, Roy is obsessed with a need to know more about what was responsible.

Meanwhile, the government is tracking the appearance of UFO’s around the world and learning about the musical phrase they use to communicate. Is there anyone in the west not familiar with the melodic five note phrase of John Williams’ marvelous score for this film?

What follows is a story of a man finding again the wonder we lose as children, a man with a need for an adventure and to go out and discover the unknown. Where some people see the appearance of the lights in the sky as a portent of Doom, Roy and some like-minded individuals look on in wonder and excitement.

There is a government conspiracy to cover up the alien communication, a mother who loses her child only to be reunited with his at the end, a marriage break up and a sense of innocent enquiry running through the movie. These are now what we would call hallmarks of a Spielberg film, story telling done by a master of his craft. It’s sad to see how he tried – and, in my opinion, failed – to recapture this recently in Super 8.

The scene when the mother ship appears and communicates with those on the ground via an extraterrestrial son et lumière is awe inspiring. I always watch it at home with the bass turned up on the speakers so the whole house shakes and I too can try to experience the physicality of the sound.

Spielberg’s aliens are not scary green men with evil intent but kind, graceful and benevolent greys. He shows us that we need not fear what we don’t yet understand.

I was 15 when Close encounters was released in 1977. I’m fifty now and it still has the ability to make me laugh and cry and envy Roy’s adventure. And I still keep an eye on the night sky and hope.

Starring Richard Dreyfus and Teri Garr
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Writer, photographer, creative fantasist.

13 thoughts on “C is for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

  1. I love love love this film Nettie! It’s one of my all time faves… and yet, I don’t have it on dvd – I must put this right! That music from the space ship still makes me go goosebumpy!

  2. Interesting pick. I wasn’t even born when this came out, and I have a very vague recollection of seeing it later as a kid. Guess I need to revisit this classic.

    That said, I kinda enjoyed Super 8. Scratch that. I thoroughly enjoyed Super 8 and felt that J.J. Abrams did a solid job of recreating the feel of movies from a bygone era.

    My pick for the letter C was Children of Men:

  3. Oh lovely – I’ve got that doo doo doo doo doooooooo music sequence going through my head now …… loved that film, especially the hippies sat on the hillside waiting for the second coming.

  4. Hi Nettie,

    I LOVED Close Encounters. My parents took me to see it when I was little (very little – I was born in ’72). I seem to remember we went to the drive-in…

    Anyhow, it made quite the impact then, and I saw it many years later as an adult. It’s certainly one of best movies I’ve ever experienced.

    Are you familiar with the animated Hoops and Yoyo characters of Hallmark cards fame? They have an electronic-card for Thanksgiving with Hoops and Yoyo in front of a huge plate of potatoes (I know you can guess where this is going). To the famous five-tone Close Encounters tune they sing: I like tur-key too.


    Found you through the A – Z Blog Challenge. Good luck this month!


  5. Definitely a great film! Your writeup was really lovely, too. I didn’t hate Super 8, but you’re right, he didn’t recapture what he brought with earlier films, that sense of wonder.

    I’m your co-host for the A-to-Z! If you didn’t get an email from me the other day, it may have gone in your spam box. Please feel free to contact me via my profile or reply to that email if you need anything or have any questions.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

    1. Hi Shannon. Lovely to see you here and thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. Glad we share a love of this movie. I know I’m in the minority with not liking SUper 8. But then, I didn’t like Titanic either!
      Good luck to you and everyone who is participating this month.

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