Logline: After encountering U.F.O.s, a family man is inexplicably drawn to an isolated area.
Review: I love early Spielberg and Close Encounters remains one of Spielberg’s best. Close Encounters is one of many science fiction films to emerge in the wake of George Lucas’s Star Wars (1977). It is a film that I still find dazzling and compelling.
Unlike many modern day science fiction and fantasy films, the special effects on display here are not overdone and still hold up remarkably well. Spielberg utilizes the same principle that he successfully used in Jaws (1975), which is to limit the appearance of the creature(s). The alien visitors are not shown until the film’s final sequence at Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. Prior to this beautiful sequence, the aliens seem to be an ominous presence. It is not until the finale that the aliens reveal themselves to be peaceful visitors. The finale depicts the kind of alien visitation that one would hope for if such a meeting should ever occur.
Longtime Spielberg collaborator John Williams provides the score for the film and as usual, his music is wonderful. In the lead role, Richard Dreyfuss is perfect as everyman Roy Neary. Like Spielberg’s other great films, Close Encounters speaks to one’s inner child and provides a believable account of alien contact.
Great scene: In this beautifully directed sequence, a boy and his mother are visited by aliens. The mother believes them to malevolent and the music supports this assertion to an unsuspecting viewer. Only the child readily accepts them. Surely, children know best.