Time: 135 mins.
Genre: Science Fiction/Drama
Won Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Nominated for Art Direction, Sound, Director, Visual Effects, Film Editing, Score and Supporting Actress.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is one of those movies I wish I saw for the first time in the theater. Released on the tale of STAR WARS, 1977 was definitely the year that science fiction films reached a whole different level. As much as I love STAR WARS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is without question the better film. Not as flashy, but more intelligent, thought-provoking and intriguing. In some ways, this film is even scarier than JAWS, Spielberg's first film. There you know it's a shark. A mean SOB, but something tangible. This film is one of the first to seriously tackle the idea of alien visitors without making them into a joke or an evil enemy. However, though they are ultimately non-threatening, you don't know that in the beginning. When under control, Spielberg is a master at screen tension. Left unchecked, you get over-the-top garbage like the LOST WORLD. No matter where I come into this film, I have to watch it to the end. Some people may consider it slow, but it's a beautiful unravelling of one of our times biggest mysteries whether we're alone in the universe.
The film opens with the sudden appearance of a group of WWII fighter planes and their pilots in a remote area of the southwestern desert. No one can explain what happened to these men, but they've been missing for decades and don't appear to have aged at all. Their confusion is palpable, having apparently been returned to a world 30 years in the future. Not even the scientists on site can explain the phenomenon. Strange sightings of unidentified flying objects begin appearing, leaving all who see them with otherwordly feelings they can't explain. Dreyfuss plays Roy Neary, a normal family man, who becomes obsessed with the image of a mountain, after a "close encounter" on a remote road during a black out. He can't explain why half of his face is sunburned or what happened to his truck, but he has to find out what caused it. His family thinks he's crazy, but he knows he's not the only one who saw the flashes of light careening at high speeds across the sky. Of course, the local government tries to brush it off as electrical storms, but he knows there's something out there trying to contact him.