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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

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After an accidental encounter with otherworldly vessels, an ordinary man follows a series of psychic clues to the first scheduled meeting between representatives of Earth and visitors from the cosmos.

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'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' at 40

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's cultural phenomenon Close Encounters of the Third Kind with a look at images from the film.

See our Close Encounters gallery

Won 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 37 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Claude Lacombe (as Francois Truffaut)
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Wild Bill (as Warren Kemmerling)
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Shawn Bishop ...
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Justin Dreyfuss ...
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Storyline

Two parallel stories are told. In the first, a group of research scientists from a variety of backgrounds are investigating the strange appearance of items in remote locations, primarily desert regions. In continuing their investigation, one of the lead scientists, a Frenchman named Claude Lacombe, incorporates the Kodály method of music education as a means of communication in their work. The response, in turn, at first baffles the researchers, until American cartographer David Laughlin deciphers the meaning of the response. In the second, electric company lineman and family man Roy Neary and single mother Jillian Guiler are among some individuals in Muncie, Indiana who experience some paranormal activity before some flashes of bright lights in the sky, which they believe to be a UFO. Roy becomes obsessed with what he saw, unlike some others, especially in some form of authority, who refuse to acknowledge their belief that it was a UFO in not wanting to appear crazy. That obsession ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

We are not alone See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

14 December 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

CE3K  »

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$132,088,635 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(special edition) | (original) | (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

All of the stars in the background of the night shots, as well as many distant trees, hills, roads, etc. were special effects and not real. This is true even in non-special effect shots, such as when Neary's truck is just driving along country roads. See more »

Goofs

In one scene, many people are on a hillside watching two bright lights approach them from near the horizon. As the lights get closer a few more lights with lower intensity can be seen trailing behind them. The next shot shows that at least the two brighter lights were military Huey helicopters which are shown hovering near and scattering the people. Huey helicopters have a very distinct and prominent "thump" generated by their rotors. The noise is very clear, especially if the chopper is headed directly towards the observer, and can be heard from a considerable distance from the aircraft. It's very doubtful that two Hueys, possibly followed by more, would be able to approach the observers as quietly as shown in the scene. The "Bell Thump" can be very reassuring if you're stuck in the weeds and need to get out of there fast. But, it doesn't make for a sneaky approach. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Barry Guiler: [looking up at the space ship flying away] Goodbye.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the 1980s special edition, the new musical edition features the end credits different, then the fades into well after the end credits to the black screen. See more »

Connections

Featured in Making Close Encounters (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

When You Wish Upon a Star
(1940)
Words: Ned Washington/Music: Leigh Harline
© 1940 Bourne Co.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Watch the 1977 Version Only, then Judge it.

The version of Close Encounters that you've seen on TV or video may not be the best version. For years I had watched a TV version of the film that combined parts of the theatrical cut and the special edition and I felt like it was decent, but somehow it seemed edited by an amateur. I chalked it up to a 70s approach towards special effects movies that lingered too much on visuals without having a plot. Decades later I finally watched the 1977 version on Blu Ray and realized it really was a much better film. Apparently, Mr. Spielberg was pressured to finish the film quickly and he wanted to spend more time on some scenes but it looks like the studio pressure was a gift. The 77 version of the film is more coherent and enjoyable. If you read the reviews that say the Richard Dreyfus character is obnoxious and unlikable, chances are that the reviewer saw the special edition (or a TV version that adds footage from that version into a poorly edited version of the film). Whichever version you watch, the character does have family problems but in the 77 version, you have scenes of Dreyfus on the job, some shorter scenes of him having a meltdown at home, and the pace isn't as slow because of Spielberg (or someone?) reshuffling other scenes to add the pointless Gobi Dessert sequence. Basically, it isn't just the fact that some scenes are a little shorter or longer, its the placement of those scenes. Brian De Palma once got a complaint that the pool hall scene in Carlito's Way was too long. But he said if felt longer because it was missing some shots that would make it more suspenseful. He added those shots, showed it to the studio, and they thought it was a shorter scene. Spielberg is usually great at creating suspense, but sometimes he messes it up. His original cut of Close Encounters got it right. It's the only version that I think really qualifies the film as a classic.


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