Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

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Critic Consensus: Close Encounters of the Third Kind is deeply humane sci-fi exploring male obsession, cosmic mysticism, and music.

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Movie Info

Steven Spielberg followed Jaws (1975), his first major box-office success, with this epic science fiction adventure about a disparate group of people who attempt to contact alien intelligence. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is an electrical lineman who, while sent out on emergency repairs, witnesses an unidentified flying object, and even has a "sunburn" from its bright lights to prove it. Neary's wife and children are at first skeptical, then concerned, and eventually fearful, as Roy refuses to accept a "logical" explanation for what he saw and is prepared to give up his job, his home, and his family to pursue the "truth" about UFOs. Neary's obsession eventually puts him in contact with others who've had close encounters with alien spacecraft, including Jillian (Melinda Dillon), a single mother whose son disappeared during her UFO experience, and Claude Lacombe (celebrated French filmmaker François Truffaut), a French researcher who believes that we can use a musical language to communicate with alien visitors. Lacombe's theory is put to the test when a band of government researchers and underground UFO enthusiasts (including Neary) join for an exchange with alien visitors near Devil's Tower, Wyoming. In 1980, a "Special Edition" was released. While its primary selling point was the addition of scenes inside the alien spaceship, Spielberg claimed that he also cleaned up some choppy editing in the second act. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Melinda Dillon
as Jillian Guiler
Teri Garr
as Ronnie Neary
François Truffaut
as Claude Lacombe
Bob Balaban
as David Laughlin
J. Patrick McNamara
as Project leader
Cary Guffey
as Barry Guiler
Shawn Bishop
as Brad Neary
Adrienne Campbell
as Sylvia Neary
Justin Dreyfuss
as Toby Neary
Merrill Connally
as Team Leader
George DiCenzo
as Major Benchley
Philip Dodds
as Jean Claude
Roger Ernest
as Highway Patrolman
Amy Douglass
as Implantee
Josef Sommer
as Larry Butler
Gene Rader
as Hawker
Norman Bartold
as Ohio Tolls
F.J. O'Neil
as ARP Project Member
Randy Herman
as Returnee #1 Flt. 19
Hal Barwood
as Returnee #2 Flt. 19
David Anderson
as Air Traffic Controller
Bill Thurman
as Air Traffic
Chuy Franco
as Federale
James Keane
as Radio Telescope Team
Dennis McMullen
as Radio Telescope Team
Matt Emery
as Special Leader
Galen Thompson
as Special Forces
John Dennis Johnston
as Special Forces
Jon Ewing
as Dirty Tricks #1
Keith Atkinson
as Dirty Tricks #2
Robert Broyles
as Dirty Tricks #3
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News & Interviews for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Critic Reviews for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (11)

"Close Encounters" proves to be a magic act with dramatic interludes.

Aug 31, 2017 | Full Review…

A film of incredible power and intensity. It is also, and ultimately, reassuring.

Nov 15, 2016 | Full Review…

Spielberg's greatest work.

May 24, 2016 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

[Spielberg's] new movie is richer and more ambitious than Jaws, and it reaches the viewer at a far more profound level than Star Wars.

Aug 22, 2014 | Full Review…

It must weather some bummy mid-passage exposition, but the movie survive its flaws triumphantly, evolving into a uniquely transporting filmgoing spectacle.

Aug 4, 2013 | Full Review…

One of the great moviegoing experiences.

Sep 8, 2007 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Spielberg's classic UFO film is the blueprint for the barely used naive, optimistic alien encounter genre. The reason why very few movies after this one even went this direction and rather blew up the White House instead is simply that it can't get any better than this. Starting out wonderfully mysteriously and disturbing, sometimes even scary, the film soon concentrates on Dreyfuss' character's own approach to the things he saw on the night sky and his visions to culminate in nothing less than the biggest Christmas three ball of movie history. This film simply combines all the assets of Spielberg's early work perfectly. Even the special effects still look pretty good 30 years later, maybe excluding the aliens. And John Williams' melody went down in pop culture history. A masterpiece.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

½

This sci-fi classic has aged well, the graphics still look great by today's standards. But the story was slow and the characters unmemorable.

Letitia Lew
Letitia Lew

Super Reviewer

An enchanting film with great special effects, yet I feel reluctant to regard the aliens as peaceful and awe-inspiring since they do abduct people, even children - and it is also hard to accept the protagonist's selfish decision at the end without any concern for his family.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

Though I understand how groundbreaking this film was for it's time, viewing it now had always been a little dull to me. The conclusion though is a breathtaking piece of filmmaking.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

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