Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) -

The Conspirators

Roy Neary: Richard Dreyfuss
Claude Lacombe: Francois Truffaut
Ronnie Neary: Teri Garr
Jillian Guiler: Melinda Dillon

The Masterminds

Written and Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Produced by: Julia and Michael Phillips

Running time: 135 min (Depending on version). Rated PG

See the movie trailer


"Who are you people?... Who is in charge?... I want some answers dammit!"

– Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) to Government interviewers during a debriefing after he's caught snooping around the base of Devil's Tower. Rating: 4 UFOs

Matt DeReno Staff Writer

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(Jan. 22, 2007) - Popular culture is rife with stories and tales of UFO sightings. Close Encounters of The Third Kind, by Steven Spielberg, delivers on all of those tales in one compact thrilling film of alien contact and government cover-ups. CETK shows how "first contact" would plausibly take place and how the U.S. Government might plausibly cover it up. Essentially, UFOs are making increasing appearances around the globe and we see this through the point of view of one everyman – Roy Neary. This is supposed to be You, the average American. Along with incontrovertible proof of UFOs, obtained by actually seeing them – Neary receives implanted images in his head. His message is in the form of a mountain like symbol, which he eventually deduces is Devil's Tower, Wyoming after the U.S. Government unwittingly disclosed the very site of the planned alien contact by fabricating a fake gas leak to keep people from doing just that. TV news then showed the truncated mountain in the backdrop of a gas leak story.

It is soon discovered that Devil's Tower is where aliens wish to make official contact with mankind. Neary is not the only one privy to such alien invitations. Cut to an international UFO French guy – François Truffaut, who is running around the globe tracking down the meaning behind a cryptic melodious tune and cruise ships that disappear and reappear in high desert steppes.

In collaboration with the Truffaut, the U.S. Government prepares a point of "first contact" be setting up a highly secretive military base in the rocky foothills of Devil's Tower. Why the aliens choose this place versus, say, a parking lot at Wal-Mart we can only assume because it's just a darn cool looking place to gather everyone together for a UFO biker-style pep rally.

So the U.S. Government and a crack squad of scientist led by Truffaut, drum up a fake gas leak to deter citizens that might wander toward the top secret designated site. But, alas, many people who have relatives that disappeared are also receiving the implanted symbol of the mountain. Like Neary, when they see Devil's Tower being evacuated on TV, they too are drawn to it like moths, eh, humans to a beckoning UFO light. Yes, this is where first contact is going down. They know it. Somebody put it in their head and Government wants to keep it on the down low.

Rarely has a movie been made so well in so many facets that it transcends the genre it defines to begin with. CETK elevates itself cinematically to one of the most influential films of all time and is the best UFO flick on the shelf or in your rental queue as well. Though it is flawlessly executed and achieves a powerful impact, there or minor flaws.

If you really think hard about it (and yes, we do) there are a lot of questions raised by the film that are left unanswered. We suppose that CETK aims to paint a benevolent picture of alien life forms, but really, should we be thankful that they involuntarily abducted countless people only to return them transplanted - in some cases decades later? Is this the act of a friend? And wouldn't they be smart enough to realize that this might piss some people off? They seem awfully nice in their historic Devil’s Mountain appearance considering that throughout history they snatched us up like butterflies in a net. Where were the missing people all this time – in a UFO bell jar? But, the movie is not really concerned about those questions.

The true excellence of the film lies primarily in the wonder and awe we experience vis-á-vis Roy Neary. The plot was cemented together extraordinarily well. Enough so that otherwise nobody but Spielberg could have hit the alien nail on the head with the impact of wide-eyed wonder that we believe would be our initial reaction to meeting aliens for the first time – right before we see if a nuke will penetrate the shell of a UFO. That I believe is what Spielberg set out to instill in us and on that note he abducted our hearts and minds. Along the way, he dazzles us with a virtuoso command of cinema technique.

The early scenes of cop cars chasing multicolored saucers amidst the backdrop of a clear midnight sky are truly one of the all time great cinematic sequences of film history. They are, for lack of a better word, otherworldly and visionary long before CGI technology made stuff like this easy to do.

Spielberg has a rare knack for knowing the perfect scene setting. He sees a location and envisions the majesty of a UFO twirling with is vibrant lights as it floats artistically into the frame, genuflecting, taking a graceful bow and effortlessly zoom-zooming off into a canopy of brilliant stars while an ethnic family sits by the side of the highway whistling old tunes.

If you are into UFOs and CoverUps, CETK should be on your shelf right next to your tin foil hat. For a new generation of film goers, this is a must see if you have not already done so. Maybe we could implant an image in your head, causing you to order this on Netflix as you build your mountain of mash potatoes and remodel your kitchen ala Roy Neary style (after you watch the movie, you will know what we mean). Enjoy.

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