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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.

See our Close Encounters gallery

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 ...
Adrienne Campbell ...
Silvia Neary
Justin Dreyfuss ...
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Robert
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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:

Close Encounter of the First Kind - Sighting of a UFO. Close Encounter of the Second Kind - Physical Evidence. Close Encounter of the Third Kind - Contact. WE ARE NOT ALONE 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) | (collector's edition)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Roy (Richard Dreyfuss) is talking to his wife trying to describe what he saw in the sky, he likens it to reading about the Aurora Borealis in the National Geographic. Previously, in Jaws (also directed by Steven Spielberg), Dreyfuss' character was mocked by the mayor, claiming that he would love to get his name in the National Geographic. See more »

Goofs

In a close shot of the UN SUVs, one of the flags is blowing forward while the other blows backward. Also the flags are waving as if in a gentle breeze. In all the others shots the vehicles are moving fast and all the flags are blown back by the strong wind. See more »

Quotes

David Laughlin: Have you recently had a close encounter?
See more »

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 Tosh.0: Shoenice (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

When You Wish Upon a Star
(1940)
Words: Ned Washington/Music: Leigh Harline
© 1940 Bourne Co.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
"This means something. This is important."
10 July 2017 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

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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