(Review originally written at 17 March 2008)

What makes "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" a great- and one of the best science-fiction movies is its totally serious and honest open approach of the genre. Something that really wasn't too common yet in the '70's. Science-fiction really wasn't regarded as a particular good genre or one that was to be taken seriously. Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and George Lucas' "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope", of the same year, most likely changed this forever and gave science-fiction a good name again. Something that so far had only been achieved by film-makers such as Stanley Kubrick and Fritz Lang earlier.

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is a movie that takes a very serious approach. The main character is an average Joe and there are no plots to take over the world or anything of that sort. It also means that it really takes its time to build and set things up. It perhaps makes the ending all the more legendary and classic. In the first half of the movie things still more or less only get implied and we never get a clear good full view of the events that are happening. It sort of makes you feel uneasy and not sure what to think of the events that are happening. Something that also really knows to add to the drama and overall mystery- and especially atmosphere of the movie.

A returning theme in several Spielberg movies is family. Family also really plays a central role within this movie. The Neary's are a great but above all realistic movie family. The dialog and characters all feel really real. The way they behave and respond and cope to the situations is done really believable.

It of course also really helps that the main character is being played by Richard Dreyfuss. The guy is only in his early 60's at the moment but he hasn't done anything good for such an incredible long time that you would think he is in his 80's instead. It such a shame such he was and still is such a great actor. Perhaps this is his most ultimate role, or it at least is definitely his best leading role. Also French director François Truffaut plays a great role. It's a very unusual casting choice that works out perfectly.

The movie is really well made and put together by its crew. Spielberg's directing is peaking within this movie and for 1977 standards its also really good and impressive looking, in terms of its special effects. Despite the fact that the best of the best in the business were busy working on "Star Wars" at the moment they still did an amazing job with it all. It's of course especially good looking in its remastered and revised movie versions, of which the ultimate 30th year anniversary director's cut is the latest example.

The cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond is also worth mentioning and so is of course also the musical score by John Williams, that quite literally plays a key element within the movie. He once more provided a great, memorable and purely classic musical score with this movie.

Simply a must-see!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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