Steven Spielberg is often cited as one of those filmmakers whose handiwork can be found in each and every genre. That there is actually a fact, as he’s done every kind of film you can think of. From horror films to war to period films and history-based films, to films like Indiana Jones and even animated films such as The Adventures of Tintin. he’s done it all. However, the one particular genre he’s known for a lot is science fiction. He’s the person who directed E.T The Extraterrestrial, as well as A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and even Minority Report. These were films that made a name for themselves inside of an entire genre as proper classics. However, before any of those films came to be, or even gained a lot of influence; there was Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
It was a film so fantastically well written and directed that it made a name for Steven Spielberg as one of the hottest auteurs in the 70s.
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The Movie Review
The film follows the story of a man named Roy and a young woman named Jillian who has a 3-year-old son called Barry. One day, Roy randomly runs into a UFO, and this sighting forever changes his idea of what could be out there. The same can be said for Jillian, who has a close encounter with a UFO herself, which leaves her obsessed with the imageries. In the world of the film, Aliens have been showing a ton of signs of life all around the world.
They are making their presence felt, and yet the government of the United States is denying their existence. However, Roy isn’t having it, as his obsession after being part of a close encounter with a UFO changes his mind completely. He sees visions of a subliminal world, a mountain-like shape. This is all just an obsession, till the unseen creatures from within the UFOs abduct Jillian’s son Barry.
The film is essentially an aesthetic, cultural, and historically significant film. It was the creation of many of the tropes that were showcased within the science fiction genre. This is a film that made almost 30 times more than its budget, back in the 70s, this was huge.
It was made on a 19.7-million-dollar budget and ended up grossing a wide 300 million dollars. It was one of the films that created an immense focus on visual effects and popularized them. Spielberg fought for this film since 1973, and he finally got to make it in 1977. He was highly dedicated to it and for good reason.
This was a film that brought Spielberg to the limelight and paved the way for him to create films such as Indiana Jones, E.T, and everything else he did moving forward. It was a defining point in his career. Although he wrote the original draft of the film himself, he had other writers such as Paul Schrader, John Hill, David Giler, Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, and Jerry Belson assisting him with it.
Douglas Trumbull and Carlo Rambaldi, who were in charge of visual effects and the alien design respectively; were by far the most important people working on the film alongside the actors and Spielberg. They really created a world so realistic, that back in the 70s people were scared to watch this film. The alien design is what defined how we think of Extraterrestrials in general, with their pale, skinny bodies and big heads, with large black protruding eyes.
The acting performances here were convincing enough for the 70s but in particular the two protagonists of Richard Dreyfuss as Roy, and Francois Truffaut (YES! The popular French new wave director!) as Claude LeCombe, and Melinda Dillon as Jillian. These three stole the show; it’s weird because this was Truffaut’s only acting role and his only role in a Hollywood film in general. So him giving such a stand-out performance was one of the weirdest things that you could expect.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, this was a film that both defined a genre, created tropes for future directors to evolve or build upon, and was a film so inspiring, that it started a craze of aliens in the United States back in the 70s. Director Steven Spielberg never ceases to amaze us with his excellent knowledge of all kinds of cinema, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind was the first point in his life where he really showed it off.