Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind; science-fiction drama, USA, 1977; D: Steven Spielberg, S: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Bob Balaban, J. Patrick McNamara, Lance Henriksen

Indiana electrical lineman Roy Neary is driving in his car at night in order to fix a blackout in the town. But on his way he encounters a UFO and becomes obsessed with it, acting weird at home. He starts getting visions of a mountain in Wyoming, and when his wife and kids leave him he goes on to find it. He meets Jillian, whose son was abducted by UFOs, and who also has visions of that mountain. He also meets scientist Lacombe and his team of UFO researchers who inform him that UFOs will land near that mountain. When they do, the Aliens return the abducted people and take Roy with them.

In 1977 "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Star Wars" were the main favorites to win the Oscar and BAFTA for best picture, but in the end it was still an independent triumph of the brilliant introverted comedy "Annie Hall". Although that is justified, "Close Encounters" are also an excellent, but unusual and intelligent Sci-Fi film that deserved to win more than just the Oscar for best cinematography. Many never accepted Steven Spielberg as a great director due to the fact that he was hired by Hollywood and earned a lot of money, but some of his films like this one are simply genius, whether they were directed by him or lets say Fellini or Welles. Curiously, the true nature of the visit of the Aliens is never explained, as well as the moral contradiction between their forced abductions and their innocence, leaving a lot of things open for interpretation, while the story does not have a clear linear plot - actually, the story is more experimental than straight forward, in a way being closer to an art-film than a big budget film. Besides spectacular scenes conjured up thanks to a great visual style (a "stranded" ship in the middle of the Mongolian desert; Hindus in India are singing the melody sent from the sky; the aesthetically pleasant 15-minute 'tour-de-force' sequence of the final arrival of dozens of giant UFO ships that show up as stars in the sky at night and hover around the mountain), wonderful role of the UFO researcher by the French director François Truffaut with a charmingly bad English accent, expressionistic toying with lights and visionary messages about the cover up of the government that directs a fake chemical accident at a mountain in Wyoming in order to evacuate the inhabitants in order to keep the landing of the UFOs in that area a secret, the movie also fascinates with its static style and messages about the human spirit which is in turmoil until it finds the truth.


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