Tuesday, 19 July 2011

AFI 100 Movies #64 Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)

This was one of the entries that I have seen before, however, I must have been 10 or so when I watched it last, so my memory was a little hazy in places.

Steven Spielberg's movie still delights all these years later.

The movie begins in a desert in Mexico, where Claude Lacombe, played by Francois Truffaut, leads a team, who have discovered a squadron of planes that went missing during World War II, the planes are intact and even have reserves of fuel left, but there is no sign of the missing pilots.

Back in the U.S.A. Barry Guiller, a three year old boy, is stirred from his sleep in his room by his toys springing to life, and working of their own accord. His mother, hearing a noise investigates and sees Barry running off on his own, she follows him and rescues him just in time to stop him being run over by a truck driven by Roy Neary.

Neary, played by Richard Dreyfuss, is a worker for the local electricity company. He ends up being called out late at night, due to power outages.

While still recovering from the shock of the near miss they witness a close encounter with a group of U.F.O.s.

Roy has a hard time convincing his wife of his experience, and his increasingly erratic behaviour drives her to distraction, leaving her with no choice but to leave in a hurry with their children as meanwhile Barry and his mother get a visit from the U.F.O.s which results in Barry going missing.

All the various plot threads come together as the main characters are all drawn toward the eerie Devil's Tower national monument.

Watching this in crystal clear quality, thanks to the Blu-Ray transfer, the special effects still stand up remarkably well. In this time of computer generated effects, there is a lot to be said in favour of the quality of the models and camera techniques used in bringing the U.F.O.s and their alien pilots to life.

The score by John Williams is very impressive, and there are decent performances from the cast, particularly Richard Dreyfuss, who carries the film, even though he was not the director's first choice for the main role.

I think it is deserving of it's inclusion in the AFI's list, even though it came out in a year which boasted an even greater sci-fi smash hit.


  1. Star Wars and Close Encounters cemented a lifelong love of media production. As far as I'm concerned they're both quintessential cinematic experiences that work equally well as silent movies...

  2. There's definitely a timeless quality to both of them.