Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Renewed interest in space aliens makes this blockbuster's affirmative answer plain: Something might really be out there. The film is both intriguing and believable.
Engineer Roy Neary (Dreyfuss) must find why power to his city has been cut, one night; meanwhile, everyday events are touched by weirdness. Aliens are making themselves obvious by taking over the functions of mundane objects -- toys, vacuum-cleaners, radios, and, of course, televisions (and those are always on). Brightly-lit saucers and paranormal scenes bring life to Roy's humdrum routine.
Via their televisions, people who have been contacted find out they should go to an isolated meeting place, as communication themes recur. In an opening scene, UFO-logist Lacombe (Truffaut) tries to figure out a three-way conversation in English, Spanish, and French. The story resembles a religious obsession; Dreyfuss's performance keeps it all together, as he grapples with the unknown, and finds an all-consuming faith, not in God, but in extraterrestrials. We can feel his awe and spiritual wonder.
Cynical viewers might not care for the innocence or the effects, but Spielberg mixes action with humor. Roy's three spoiled children and wife who doesn't understand him keep us from criticizing Roy for leaving them to fly and meet his space kinsmen.
Different versions of the film include the original, a special edition (in which we see inside the mothership at the end), and the collector's edition, in which a house-wrecking is reinstated. The film leaves us not so much knowing as feeling that we aren't alone.
Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Francois Truffaut, Bob Balaban, J. Patrick Mc
Aliens; UFOs; 1970s; Stephen Spielberg
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