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Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)

Here's an old Steven Spielberg movie I've had in my backlog for ages now, and finally, I watched it!

For some reason I first thought it would be about the second World War (something about the third), so for a moment I was a bit disappointed, but once you start living into that dreamy, magical mysterious space exploration age of the seventies... it's not so bad!

The story centers around two people: Roy Neary, and Jillian Guiler, who on different occasions both get a 'close encounter of the third kind', which leaves them with a dark sunburn and some strange psychic connection to some kind of shape that they can't quite place.

They see it everywhere - both in their mashed potatoes and the paintings they draw, and it becomes a bit of a craze. Roy Neary's family leaves him to live with her sister while he's sculpting a gigantic monument of this strange form in the middle of their living room, and as for Jillian Guiler: she just wants her boy back, who was abducted when the aliens came to visit.

One day they see the strange shape on TV: it's a mountain! And so they embark on an adventure that ultimately leads to an even closer encounter of the third kind. And some trouble with the government, who'd rather handle that meeting on their own.

Third kind? What does that even mean? I assume the first is human? What's the second? God? Looking this up it seems I was totally off:

The title is derived from a classification of close encounters with aliens as set forth by American UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek. Close Encounters of the First Kind refer to the sighting of a UFO. Physical evidence of a UFO are classed as Close Encounters of the Second Kind. Actual contact with an alien is a Close Encounter of the Third Kind.

It all makes sense now!

They built up the atmosphere nicely, and the sense of realism is high with both the scientists and the government agents, and all the equipment they wield, but the props... well it was 1977 after all. Times have changed.

All things considered the movie's stood the test of time surprisingly well, but by modern standards some things just wouldn't cut it. And some things take so looooong. That this movie actually earned an Oscar back in the day seems unbelievable now, but back in its heyday: it must have been something else. The excitement with which the aliens are met is quite refreshing too. I wish we could experience that same exhilaration now, but instead we I look at the characters and their seeming simple-mindedness with a sense of longing and envy.

If you haven't seen it yet it is of course a classic worth catching up on - well-scripted, enacted and filmed, but a bit drawn-out by modern standards.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle


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