In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.
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
When the project was first pitched to Columbia in 1973, Steven Spielberg said it would cost $2.7 million to make. Due to delays caused by script development problems, he went on to make Jaws (1975), a huge success that gave him more status and bargaining power with the studio. At that point, exhausted and frazzled from the difficult location work on the shark movie, Spielberg decided he wanted to make Close Encounters entirely in the studio, and the budget was set at $4.1 million. As time went on and production ideas and plans grew more elaborate, it became clear more money would be needed, a prospect not looked on favourably by the financially strapped studio. Douglas Trumbull was surprised by the original low budget because he had estimated early on that his effects alone would cost about $3 million. The final figure for effects was fairly close to that. See more »
The American flag patch on the uniforms of the volunteers at the end of the film are backwards. The camera pans down the row of volunteers in their jumpsuits and each has a flag patch on their right shoulder with the stars on the left side of the flag. When a flag patch is worn on the right shoulder, the stars should be on the right side of the flag with the stripes pointing to the left. See more »
Near the end of the credits it starts to reads as follows: "During the filming of all animal sequences, H.L. EDWARDS, Veterinarian of Gillette, Wyoming, was in attendance at all times to aid the filmmakers and the anesthetist in proper treatment of the animals used, and at no time were the animals harmed or mistreated in any way." See more »
The Criterion Collection 3-disc Laserdisc released in 1990 featured both the 1977 Theatrical & 1980 Special Edition cuts. The theatrical however held onto the '80 Special Edition shot of a shadowed spaceship flying over Roy's truck. This was requested by Steven Spielberg while overseeing the disc's production. The 1980 cut can only be viewed on players that could have re-arranged the disc's chapters from the end of the disc to earlier on, requiring a 5-second pause between chapters. See more »
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" See more »
Mankind encounters numerous UFOS for the first time in this uneven but memorable outing for writer / director Steven Spielberg, who'd become a hot property after the major success of "Jaws". Here, Spielberg personalizes the story by focusing on Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), a line worker and basic Everyman character who becomes a man obsessed after his own close encounter. He becomes determined to unravel the mystery of an enigma that persists in his life. In the company of a single mother named Jillian (Melinda Dillon), he travels to Wyoming where a history making event will take place.
At approximately two and a quarter hours, Spielberg could and should have tightened this a bit, and he unfortunately tends to distance us from Roy by making the guy so flaky. When his wife (Teri Garr) takes their four kids and leaves him, he gets over it in record time. His behaviour is, overall, bizarre and destructive. But one thing that the director successfully conveys is a true sense of wonder. The visual effects are truly impressive, and the events are given great scope by having so many people be witness to the extraordinary extraterrestrial activity. John Williams, as usual, does a very nice job with the music, even if his score here isn't as iconic as his best known works. The finale is the absolute best part, as it has a genuine otherworldly quality.
His character may not always be so relatable, but Dreyfuss delivers an effective, deeply committed performance. He's surrounded by very fine actors and familiar faces. Placed front and centre is an investigator played by the well regarded filmmaker Francois Truffaut ("Fahrenheit 451"). Bob Balaban, Roberts Blossom, Lance Henriksen, George DiCenzo, Josef Sommer, Carl Weathers, Bill Thurman, and John Dennis Johnston all turn up as well. Cary Guffey is adorable as Dillons' son, just one of many abductees.
While this won't become one of this viewers' personal favorite Spielberg films, it IS a very impressive achievement in some ways.
Seven out of 10.
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