February 16, 2016

Cutting Edges: Close Encounters of the Third Kind Film Review

Close Encounters of the Third Kind Film Review
Figure 1: Movie Poster
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1978 sci-fi film by Steven Spielberg. It is a film about UFOs and extra-terrestrials, and follows the journey of a man who is obsessed with aliens and who has visions of a strange mountain, and goes on a search to find the answer and attempt to contact alien intelligence.
The camera shots used in this film were very dramatic, a common feature for Spielberg’s films. There are many shots of human’s faces, just showing the reactions of what they are seeing or experiencing. It is very affective in conveying these emotions to the audience, and creating an awe inspiring atmosphere. One of the scenes that stood out is right at the end of the film where the man is taken aboard the spaceship and we see the awe and admiration on his face as he takes in his surroundings. Then we are taken on a journey with the camera around the spaceship, and we see very magical and unusual shots with bright lights and loud, dramatic sounds, not unlike the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
During the film we see the progression of what seems like madness in the main character, and we become invested in his character as we see the details of his life, and his dysfunctional family. We are on his side as we watch his wife scream and argue about his interest in aliens, and while that may seem fair, we also can understand this man's want of an escape from his life, and we relate to him because there may be situations in life that we don't want to face, and want to escape from. His obsession with the mission of finding out what this mountain is and why he is so interested by it is his escape from the real life.
Figure 2: Film Still
"[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." (Frank Rich, 2014)
In this quote Rich describes Close Encounters as a very rich and meaningful film, and compares it to films released in the same decade, such as Star Wars. In the 1970's there were a lot of space films, and Rich describes Close Encounters as a more profound film than a Star Wars, although considerably less popular. Close Encounters was made in the 1970's height of paranoia and curiosity of aliens and extra-terrestrial life, and the conspiracy of the denial of life outside of earth to the public, by those with higher authority.
"The special effects are spectacular, John Williams's score is emotionally charged, nouvelle vague director Fran├žois Truffaut makes an elegant UFO expert and it's impossible not to get caught up in the protracted climax." (Andrew Collins, 2013)
Collins describes the film as a big build up to the final scene, where the big spaceships and the aliens are revealed in a big, dramatic, emotional climax. Collins also describes the music by John Williams as emotional, very grand and a huge part of making the special finale in which everything is revealed. Spielberg is known for being an emotional director and the music enhances the storyline extremely well and makes it so impactful for viewers, it feels as if we are transported into the scene and a part of it.
"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 Magalhaes, Unknown)

As Magalhaes says, the special effects of Close Encounters is great, and makes the film magical and enchanting. The big spaceship is so immense and well designed, you can feel the vastness and the weight of it, and it also brings a degree of the unknown and mysterious in its design. During the time in which the film was made, the idea of grey little aliens with big heads was a foreign idea, compared to today where the idea is overused and seemingly cheap. It makes it much more emotional because of the similarity between these aliens and humans, especially the similarity between the young human boy and the aliens. The aliens being something friendly and welcoming was a new concept, and it works spectacularly well in an emotional sense, because we become invested in these unknown, friendly beings which we know nothing about, instead of being frightened and the aliens becoming something to fear. The ending is regarded by Magalhaes as selfish and hard to accept, as the protagonist leaves his family and his life behind to go onto this spaceship. This further explains the need to escape his old life and his dysfunctional family and go somewhere far away from it, and not face his problems head on. He is very childlike inside, which is perhaps why he was chosen to aboard the spaceship by the aliens, because of his sense of childlike wonder and his awe and willingness to believe.
Figure 3: Film Still
Figure 1: 4.bp.blogspot.com, (2016). [online] Available at: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KMNZI3jDk-M/UfuT2MMTQRI/AAAAAAAAFYs/vE-b2BFfVds/s1600/screenshot-lrg-22.png [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].
Figure 2: Images2.static-bluray.com, (2016). [online] Available at: http://images2.static-bluray.com/movies/covers/529_front.jpg [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].
 Figure 3: Sommer, J. and Spielberg, S. (2016). Close Encounters of the Third Kind | Film review and movie reviews | Radio Times. [online] RadioTimes. Available at: http://www.radiotimes.com/film/rbjkn/URL [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].
Rottentomatoes.com, (2016). blacksheepboy's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes. [online] Available at: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/user/id/891372896/ [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].
Rottentomatoes.com, (2016). Close Encounters of the Third Kind. [online] Available at: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/close_encounters_of_the_third_kind/ [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].
Screenmusings.org, (2016). [online] Available at: http://screenmusings.org/movie/blu-ray/Close-Encounters-of-the-Third-Kind/images/Close-Encounters-of-the-Third-Kind-274.jpg [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].
TIME.com, (2016). Show Business: The Aliens Are Coming!. [online] Available at: http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,947980,00.html [Accessed 16 Feb. 2016].


  1. Hi Becky,

    Interesting review :)

    Just a reminder - when you reference the quote, you only need the author's surname and the date, not their full name. You also need to include these details in your bibliography, with the authors arranged in alphabetical order by surname. Have another look at the referencing guide here - http://community.ucreative.ac.uk/Harvard-Referencing

  2. Got your review up straight away, Becky - good stuff - and it reads as if you enjoyed it too - which is always a bonus!