The Steven Spielberg seminal classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind is heading back to the big screen for the film’s 40th anniversary. It’s landing in theaters for a limited run on September 1. For fans of the film and fans of film, one must run, not walk, to the local cinemas to witness this sci-fi spectacle in restored 4K brilliance.
Spielberg announced his presence to the world and essentially invented the summer blockbuster in 1975 with Jaws. What was he to do next? It had to be big. It had to have the cultural seismic impact that his shark tale did and also, and most importantly, the next project had to speak to him on an intellectual and creative level. Enter a story firmly based in a genre he loves, science fiction, and involve characters time would tell us he also adores, aliens. Close Encounters of the Third Kind would take Spielberg (and his audiences) to places hardly ever seen in the manner that he presented it as well as go past the age old question of “are we alone in the universe?” He answer would be, absolutely not, and raise another question, “What do we do now.”
The iconic filmmaker was just a young sprite in Hollywood, but he had cache and when he presented his script for Close Encounters, it mirrored a populous that had just come out of Watergate, elected a never-tested and outside the Beltway President in Jimmy Carter and an oil crisis was about to sack the world in the place that matters most to them — the pocketbook.
Spielberg’s film presented a public with an uneasy feeling about the future and the unknown uncertainty that was coming at them and packaged it as an aliens arrive on earth drama that went beyond the usual “are they naughty or nice parable.”
That’s the context, but how about the story and the film itself. Sure, the movie didn’t land and become a revolution in a vacuum. The film had to be something truly extraordinary to break through the normal cinematic chatter out there… this movie was special and on numerous levels.
Spielberg created a world where average families and people seem disconnected and off chasing their own tales. Suddenly, several of those folks start getting signs and without any explanation, their behavior and modus operandi is altered. They are obsessed — but, with what? Meanwhile, scientists are presented as the heroes here (what a concept) and they too are noticing something — clues for lack of a better word — that an enormous event of some kind is about to occur. They aren’t entirely sure what form it will take. How does one prepare for that and what level of secrecy must it require with the general public from the government?
Close Encounters is a fascinating study in human nature. It also is global, which shows us that no matter how different we may seem to each other, compared to something that is outside of our world, we could not be more similar and most importantly — connected by the simple fact that we all call this beautiful sphere home.
Then, of course, there is the spectacle of Spielberg’s masterwork.
They story and its scope can be appreciated and are still powerful witnessing at the home theater. But, if presented the opportunity to see the world’s greatest opera singer on the world’s greatest stage with the world’s greatest symphony backing them up… why would you stay home?
To borrow a sports phrase, go big or go home, especially if the movie you’re seeing on the big screen is in mind-blowing 4K and had an overhaul overseen by the master himself.
Richard Dreyfuss’ Roy Neary was just driving in his truck one day when the aliens made contact with him. Next thing you know, he’s making the Devil’s Tower out of his mashed potatoes. His wife Ronnie (Teri Garr) can’t make sense of what has gripped her husband. Meanwhile, little Barry (Cary Guffey) is being called as well. He will soon open a door and be welcomed into the light and find his way to a higher calling as well. A cornucopia of characters Spielberg wove in a web of brilliance finds this ensemble hitting all the high notes in this alien operetta that by its conclusion, has us answering questions much more profound than “are we alone in the universe?” Close Encounters goes deep and provides profound replies to the larger questions of “why are we here?” and “what makes us human.”
To fully appreciate all that Spielberg’s opus has to offer, it must be seen on the big screen. This 4K restoration re-release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind should serve as a pilgrimage for movie fans of all genre appreciations to the temple of Tinseltown — the cinemas.
Of course, you don’t have to make a movie theater out of mashed potatoes before hand… just go.