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Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Essay by review  •  February 5, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,742 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,388 Views

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“Have you recently had a close encounter?” quote from David Laughlin from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Well everyone who has ever seen the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind has had their own close encounter of some kind. Written and directed by Steven Spielberg and Produced by Colombia Pictures in association with EMI Films. Colombia Pictures the same year is credited with the production of four other films which include Bobby Deerfield staring Al Pacino, The Deadly Triangle staring Dale Robinette, Fun With Dick and Jane staring George Segal and Jane Fonda, and last but not least Confessions from a Holiday Camp staring Robin Askwith.

Although Colombia Pictures was credited with five productions in the year 1977 no picture was as monumental as the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Directed by Steven Spielberg backed with an incredible cast including Richard Dreyfuss as (Roy Neary), FranÐ"§ois Truffaut as (Claude Lacombe), Teri Garr as (Ronnie Neary), and Melinda Dillon as (Gillian Guiler).

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is an epic science fiction adventure about a disparate group of people who attempt to contact extraterrestrial life forms. Roy Neary is an electrical lineman who while sent out on emergency repairs has a close encounter of the first kind by witnessing an unidentified flying object, and even has a "sunburn" from its bright lights to prove it. Roy’s wife and children are at first skeptical, then concerned, and eventually fearful, as Roy refuses to accept a “logical” explanation for what he saw and is prepared to give up his job, his home, and his family to pursue the "truth" about

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UFOs, “I guess you've noticed something a little strange with Dad. It's okay, though. I'm still Dad.” Quoted Neary from the film. Meanwhile, governments all around the world experience a close encounter of the second kind, by finding physical evidence of alien visitors. Including planes and ships that were once considered missing showing up in random areas of the world.

Neary's obsession eventually puts him in contact with others who have had close encounters with alien spacecraft, including Gillian, a single mother whose son Barry (Cary Guffy) disappears during her second UFO experience, and Claude Lacombe, a French researcher who believes that we can use a musical language to communicate with alien visitors. Lacombe's theory is put to the test when a band of government researchers and underground UFO enthusiasts (including Neary and Gillian) meet at the base of Devils Tower in Wyoming. After closing off a multi mile radius around the Tower the two groups get ready for a close encounter of the third kind or better known as contact.

Throughout 1977 not only was Close Encounters of the Third Kind released but there was also great controversy about the realism of artificial life. Sometime in 1977 a plaque was attached to a spaceship leaving the solar system that showed where we live in our solar system and what we look like. The justification for this was that aliens outside of our solar system would find the space ship and we needed to let them know that we are friendly and that we welcome them. Not only were we concerned about alien trouble but also cold war trouble being smack dab in the middle of the United States verse Communist cold war. (Wikipedia 1977) Which began in 1985 and spanned all the way until 1991 bringing us through air raids and fallout shelters all the way up to holding our

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hand over the button that could blow the entire world up. Though we had a colossal over seas battle on our hands at home on January 21st, 1977 United States President Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam War draft evaders letting thousands of Americans come home. (Wikipedia 1977) Not only were fellow citizens now allowed to come home but now also to expand there knowledge with the release of the new Apple II computer which debut on June 5th, 1977. (Wikipedia 1977)

Although the release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a phenomenal release at its time winning one of seven Oscar nominations. It was given the challenge of competing with Star Wars which was released on May 25th, 1977 and immediately became a box office success winning six out of ten Oscar nominations, and becoming the then highest grossing film of all time. (Wikipedia 1977) Star Wars was written and directed by George Lucas, released by Lucas Films and was followed by five other Star Wars trilogy films. Also at the same time “Roots” began its phenomenally successful run on ABC’s television network. (Wikipedia 1977) Speaking of television debuts the famous Tonight Show with Jay Leno debut in 1977 as well.

Although there were many achievements throughout 1977 there were also many upsets but none as upsetting as when the world lost three of its greatest culture icons. Including the death of actor Freddie Prinze who died from a self inflicted gun wound on January 29th, Bing Crosby died October 14th from a massive heart attack shortly after playing 18 holes of golf, and no one could ever forget the loss of the legend Elvis Presley who passed away from a massive heart attack exacerbated by drug problems on August 16th.

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Though there was the passing of three legends four more were born in 1977 to take there place. January 13th Orlando Bloom is born, March 8th James Van Der Beek is born, July 1st Liv Tyler is born, and last but not least November 10th Brittany Murphy was born. (Wikipedia 1977)

Through and through although so much was happening in the world Steven Spielberg pulled everything from the time he was in to his personal genius to make the classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Threw a very profound style of storytelling we as the viewer are able to get a completely different feel from the movie than we could have ever gotten from any other type of director. Steven Spielberg uses the narrative of following Roy through out the entire film, showing his journey from a simple electrical lineman / father / husband to an alien crazed fanatic who willingly gives himself to the aliens at the end of the film. Though the use of this narrative sounds familiar the way that Spielberg uses the cinematography, dialogue, sound, and design of the film to bring forth the classic Spielberg look and feel.

Some of the strengths that come out from this narrative is that it lets us get much more in depth with the characters. Take for instance soon after Roy’s first encounter with the UFO where he receives his “sunburn”

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