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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

When You Wish Upon A Star

​I should start by saying this is a remarkable movie.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind tells the story of Roy Neary, played with childlike abandonment by Richard Dreyfus, as his life is upended by his sighting of a UFO one fateful night. He is drawn into a worldwide mystery involving a single mother named Gillian (Melinda Dillon) and her young son Barry and a French investigator played by the famed director Francois Truffaut. There are sightings of strange objects in the sky and the film reaches a climax at Devil’s tower in Wyoming. A meeting is about to occur that is going to change the world. This movie is gorgeous and makes for an evening of fine entertainment.

The film is a technical masterpiece. Its editing techniques are still being studied. The special effects are still pretty dazzling. The soundtrack is sublime, stirring and mysterious. However this movie does have one weak part which does harm its staying power which is the subplot involving Roy Neary’s family. His family is completely unable to cope with the changes that their Roy is undergoing. In the end they have a very big, very loud and ugly argument after which they flee the house leaving Roy alone in the house with a giant statue made of trash. It is actually quite sad. The movie ends with no resolution on this subplot which is a shame. It feels as if this story is open-ended and puts a damper on the conclusion.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is one of the best science fiction movies ever made. It is without a doubt a classic in the genre. This movie was at the junction of the more serious films of the Seventies and the more special effect orientated child friendly movies of the Eighties and Nineties. This movie is Steven Spielberg at the top of his game. Close Encounters deals with the themes he does best a childlike sense of wonder and visualizing dreams of adventure we desired as children. The musical theme that occurs at the end of the film is “Wish upon a star”. It is a very powerful moment and tells us exactly what type of filmmaker Spielberg is: he is a teller of fairy tales filled with hope and feeling. His best movies of this time spoke and appealed to the child that still resides in us all. This film had a lot of heart and testifies to the movies enduring popularity. This movie is one of my favorites. It is one of those films that can make you feel better as you see wonders that are impossible come to life on the screen.

If you have not seen it, see it.

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Posted in All Reviews, By Courtland Hopkins, The Classic Movie Series.

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