STARRING: Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Cary Guffey, Bob Balaban

1977, 135 Minutes, Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Description: Richard Dreyfuss plays a man possessed; contacted by aliens, he (along with other members of the "chosen") is drawn toward the site of the incipient landing: Devil's Tower, in rural Wyoming. As in many Spielberg films, there are no personalized enemies; the struggle is between those who have been called and a scientific establishment that seeks to protect them by keeping them away from the arriving spacecraft.

This film is basically a latter day suburban version of the Christian Second Coming. Steven Spielberg's wish-fulfillment, if you like. In it, several suburbanites (Richard Dreyfuss, playing suburban Everyman, among them) are basically given instructions to be at a certain place at a certain time where benign aliens in UFOs will pick them up and take them away to a wondrous world. 

Released in the same year as Star Wars, Close Encounters made a killing at the box office. Obviously there were a lot of people living in suburbia who longed to be taken away to more interesting places!

The film, except maybe for E.T., is probably one of Spielberg's most personal - and one of his best - films. Its special effects (which later became a hallmark in other Spielberg epics such as Poltergeist and E.T.), although not as many and as spectacular as those in Star Wars, was just as revolutionary. Whereas Star Wars gave the world space ships that looked as if they might actually work, Close Encounters gave us flying saucers that didn't look like those flying hubcaps featured in 1950s B-grade movies.

The saucers in Close Encounters are bright lights - flashing and impressive, setting a tone for other 1980s movies that followed. But this is more than an effects movie: the characters are believable and likeable and not overshadowed by the special effects team headed by Douglas Trumbull - a rare occurrence! 

A human story - despite the aliens emerging godlike from their majestic UFOs at the end of the movie.

(In 1980 the film was replaced by a 132-minute version, re-edited and with extra material. On posters, but not on prints, this was subtitled The Special Edition.)



# 8
of the
Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies
of all time


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