Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)
Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Drama (USA, UK)
Starring: Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland's Opus; Jaws), Teri Garr (Tootsie; Young Frankenstein)
Directed By: Steven Spielberg (Shindler's List; Munich)
Overview: When strange happenings, sightings and abductions begin in a small town, Roy obsessively tries to recreate the picture of a place left in his mind.
Acting: It's interesting sometimes to realize that even a movie directed by Stephen Spielberg could have such overzealous portrayals as the one done by Terry Garr, Roy's wife. Not only is her character completely cold to the experiences of her husband, but she wails like a banshee on the moors half the time. Aside from that Dreyfuss is fantastic and we even have a nice visit from that great director Truffeau.
Cinematography: The special effects in this are comparable to the original Star Wars in that it's not all CGI. It's lights and intricate models with a focus on big rather than bluescreen. Because it's not all glitz it looks more believable, except for the odd too-close-up moment. As for the camerawork that's pretty standard Spielsbergian stuff. Gotta love the ocean liner in the middle of the Mongolian desert.
Script: Aside from the fact that Roy's wife is a touch too selfish, we have a French scientist who needs translation from an interpreter, but seems to do just fine when pressed to speak English. My guest commented on how that seemed redundant. When it came to communicating with the aliens on the other hand, that musical quote of a greeting has most likely left it's mark on modern history.
Plot: There is a bit of a slow part in the middle there, right between the initial sightings and the big drive to the destination. I guess when you're surrounded by fancy lights and wondrous possibilities, you tend to want to watch the plot go that way, rather than focusing on one man's obsession with mashed potatoes. With a really good build-up towards the memorable and dramatic climax, this is well worth the watch.
Mood: From the opening scene with all those ancient planes in the middle of Mexico to the first time the ships dance overhead to the global awareness they cause, this movie has elements of fear mixed with curious wonder. From the music to the stress of the characters, the government's actions, it's all really realistic. And without knowing the culture that visits, we still glean many clues about how they deal with an alien society, namely ours.
Overall Rating: 80% (A Classic To Keep Close By)
Aftertaste: Do you remember seeing this as a child? That scene at the end with all the secrecy followed by the cool ships? It's still impressive. I may dump on Spielberg from time to time for being way too obvious, for force-feeding the audience with "get it?" moments, but this is more about the wonder and imagination of a visitation, without all the terror and stupidity of Independence Day.