(Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977 – Columbia Pictures)
This has always been on my watchlist, and I’ve always felt a bit ashamed that I haven’t watched it sooner. Science fiction has always maintained its position as my favourite genre in filmmaking, from the grand blockbusters to small indie pictures. I spent my last year at university writing a portfolio of work surrounding the genre and its current lack of imagination and punch because lets face it, the real so-called science fiction thought provoking films are sadly now far and few between.
Close Encounters was released in 1977, the summer that George Lucas’ Star Wars dominated. But this fact isn’t detrimental to the quality of the film. Where Star Wars throws you into this massive universe full of space battles and duels, Close Encounters is subtle, slow and holds you just on the edge of curiosity. It’s also stunningly beautiful, and the effects are outstanding. It’s interesting to me that even though in 1977 the majority of films were shot on film, films like this you really notice it, and it makes for a much more rewarding watch.
It’s not the best Spielberg picture I’ve seen, nor the best science fiction film ever. In fact, my only major disappointment with it was the lack of emotional punches it took, especially in relation to Spielberg’s later ET (1982), but maybe it’s just because E.T has a more emotionally entangled score from John Williams (though Williams scored Close Encounters it just doesn’t scream classic like his countless others). Also, does Roy (played by Richard Dreyfuss) have zero regard for his family and wife? I can understand the obsession but you have a family..
Anyway, I feel pretty bummed out I didn’t treat myself to this watch sooner. 1977 was a great year for science fiction, don’t overlook this film in favour of Star Wars, there is much more on offer.