A great film is one that can frustrate even the most jaded moviegoers and fill them with a sense of sheer anticipation, wonder, and excitement. The cynicism is lost as they witness all the different creative aspects that go into making the film come together to show them scenes they’ve never seen and tell stories that are capable of shocking while still resonating at the deepest emotional levels. A truly great film—the kind that could be called a classic without a doubt—is one that still has the power to do that to viewers decades after it was originally released, no matter how many times they’ve watched it over the years. . Steven Spielberg’s 1977 masterpiece “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” which returns to theaters for a one-week engagement to mark its 40th anniversary, is the epitome of truly great film. Having seen it many times over the last four decades, I got into screening planning to devote most of my attention to how the new 4K restoration looked and found myself sucked as deeply into the story, show, and visual effects as stunning as I was. was when I first saw him as a kid during the original release.
You’ll notice that I’m not calling it a science fiction film and that’s because, while it’s unanimously considered one of the pinnacles of the genre, it’s not really one in the traditional sense, like Spielberg himself. stated in a brief feature before the screening of the film. Oh sure, it does relate to the concept of humanity’s first encounter with a visiting being from another world but it’s not about them… themselves. Until the very end, the creatures themselves remain off-screen and their presence is represented only sporadically through mysterious lights and glimpses from their spaceships. In fact, the film is more of a conspiracy-thriller drama that looks at how we on Earth might react to the possibility that there really is something out there
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In one, a coalition of scientists led by Claude Lacombe (respected French filmmaker Francois Truffaut) darted around the world, investigating strange phenomena (such as appearances in the Sonoran desert of a squadron of planes missing since 1945) and working their way down communicating with potential visitors based on musical intonation. When they tried it, they got a response that turned out to be the coordinates for a clear landing at Wyoming’s impressive Demon Tower monument. While Lacombe and other scientists prepared for their arrival, the US military tried to cover up the story by launching a massive cover-up involving false reports of a nerve gas spill meant to scare all civilians out of the area.
On the other hand, we meet two Indiana residents whose paths cross and whose lives are changed forever after apparently encountering a UFO. The first is Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), an ordinary family man and power lineman sent to investigate a massive power outage in the area and who has very close encounters along the way. A dreamer by nature—the kind of man far more excited by the prospect of seeing “Pinocchio” than his children—Roy is driven to distract him by his experiences and visions It gets to the point where his less-than-sympathetic wife (Teri Garr) grabs the kids and runs, while the neighbors chuckle at the sight of his apparent madness. The other is Jillian Guiler (Melinda Dillon), a single mother whose 3-year-old son Barry (Cary Guffey) has several encounters with aliens that culminate in his kidnapping her into the skies. nerve gas spill was announced, they were still forced to go to the Devil’s Tower in hopes of getting answers to the questions they currently have. dominate their lives.
“Close Encounters” had what could politely be described as a troubled production—a lot of hands were employed to put the screenplay together (though Spielberg ended up with a solo credit) and the production was over schedule and on budget—but it was one of the film’s big enough accomplishments that neither instructions of all of that in the finished product. Although it was only his third feature film, Spielberg directed the material with the assurances of a veteran director at the height of his power. The film moves like a shot but never feels too rushed for a moment. It covers a wide range of tones and emotions—from goofy humor and hurtful drama to outright astonishment and terror—without ever setting the tone wrong. With the exception of Roy’s wife, who may be drawn a little more shrill than necessary, the characters are believable and engaging, and the actors bring it all to life beautifully. (The portrayal of Truffaut, the filmmaker’s most humanist, as the lead scientist obsessed with making contact is incredibly inspiring — you may, like me, prefer Jean-Luc Godard as a filmmaker, but you certainly don’t want him to be the right person for our first meeting. with creatures from another world.) From a technical point of view, the film remains excellent as well—the Oscar-winning cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond (with additional contributions from the virtual Killer Line from the great cinematographers of the era) is something of a beauty, score by John Williams it is the same as his work on other major genre films of 1977 and his visual effects remain among the most impressive to have ever graced the film screen.
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