Close Encounters Of The Third Kind Offers A Different Alien Invasion Story


When the phrase “alien invasion” is uttered, sure photos have a tendency to come back to thoughts. Abductions, lethal lasers, ominous spacecrafts hovering within the sky, individuals fleeing in terror — the situation that most individuals image is an apocalyptic one. From Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Independence Day, science fiction movies have usually explored the thought of aliens coming to Earth as a threatening presence. After all, concern of the unknown is widespread amongst humanity, and it isn’t an unreasonable concern to have. However, in 1977, an upstart director named Steven Spielberg explored a distinct thought: What if, as a substitute of mutual mistrust and violence, people and aliens greeted one another with mutual respect and curiosity?


Spielberg had lengthy been intrigued by UFOs and aliens, and far of his early work incorporates these concepts. After the industrial success of Jaws, he obtained full artistic freedom to direct Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a venture that may discover his fascination with extraterrestrial life. The plot revolves round an Indiana man named Roy (Richard Dreyfuss), whose life is modified after a “close encounter,” an expertise involving contact with alien life. He meets single mother Jillian (Melinda Dillon) and her three-year-old son, Barry, who’ve had shut encounters of their very own. Meanwhile, French researcher Claude Lacombe (Francois Truffaut) leads a crew of scientists trying to find and decipher the alien alerts.

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Curiosity As A Driving Force


Plenty of tales have handled the idea of first contact, however this movie handles it in another way than most. In many such narratives, even when the aliens usually are not the monsters of the story, there’s some dialogue about their motives. Who are they? Why have they arrive to Earth, and what do they need from humanity? Do people have to be afraid? Often, even when there is no such thing as a outright violence, Earth’s governments are seen getting ready defenses, simply in case. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, although, doesn’t give attention to this facet of the story. Perhaps the army are making such preparations elsewhere, however the film’s primary characters are as a substitute trying to unravel the thriller.

From the beginning of the movie, that thriller is what retains the viewers hooked. It is a thriller designed to intrigue, however not terrify, the viewers — and it has the identical impact on the characters. The imagery concerned in Roy’s preliminary shut encounter is eerie, however not outright horrifying: his automobile hovers in a beam of sunshine, objects transfer quickly, coloured lights seem within the distance. The solely bodily hurt he suffers, although, is an odd sunburn. As he, Jillian, Barry, and a number of other others witness UFOs rushing throughout the sky that evening, no person is harmed and even afraid; as a substitute, they stare on in marvel. It is that sense of marvel that drives the movie, instilling in every character a want for solutions.

This pursuit of explaining the unexplained takes place from two factors of view: everyman Roy, and the scientist Lacombe. By presenting these two tales alongside one another, Spielberg reveals how completely different individuals are affected by the movie’s occasions. An professional with countless sources at his disposal, motivated by scientific curiosity, seeks to develop his understanding of life as we all know it. Meanwhile, a median blue-collar American experiences one thing he as soon as thought unattainable, begins having visions of an odd land formation, and units out on a mad sprint for solutions. Yet, although they’re led there by completely different means, each find yourself in the identical place within the movie’s conclusion: on the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, witnessing first contact between people and extraterrestrials. Curiosity is just not confined to the mental elite; quite, all who search solutions laborious sufficient will discover them finally.

Despite the give attention to curiosity and discovery, the movie does take care of that concern of the unknown. The scariest it will get is a scene in Jillian and Barry’s home. One night, lights shine by way of the home windows of their house, objects start to maneuver, and home equipment go haywire as aliens try and enter the home. It’s loud, it is chaotic, and Jillian is understandably terrified. Yet, in contrast to in films like Poltergeist or The Changeling, different movies by which unknown forces manipulate objects in a house, the viewers by no means will get the sense that this unseen entity is attempting to assault Jillian or Barry. It appears extra prefer it’s attempting to get their consideration — albeit in a daunting method. Still, it is a nail-biting scene, particularly when it ends with Barry’s disappearance. Giggling with glee, he runs off into the Indiana prairie and vanishes. Yet Barry is not afraid of the alien guests; as a substitute, he is excited and keen. At three years previous, his curiosity is already simply as highly effective as a world-class scientist’s, not but tempered by concern or warning.

What’s extra, as Jillian searches embarks on her seek for her son, she by no means voices any fears for his life or doubt whether or not he’s secure; quite, she is solely intent on reuniting together with her baby. At the identical time, she is simply as intent on reaching the place she sees in her visions, making contact with the aliens. Due to her visions, it is attainable she knew that the aliens meant her son no hurt — though doubtless subconsciously. She and Roy, although they’ve separate motives, wind up falling in collectively on their journey to the Devil’s Tower, the land formation that has appeared to them. The army makes an attempt to drive them away from the federal government experiment happening — however Claude Lacombe protests on their behalf.

An Invitation To Learn From Each Other

Humans in front of the alien ship

In his plea to let Roy and Jillian search solutions alongside him, Lacombe states: “They were invited. They have more right to be here than we do.” It’s a succinct, lovely description of the contact that happens between people and aliens all through the movie. Rather than being forcibly kidnapped, Barry runs off to greet new pals. Likewise, Roy and Jillian’s visions make them a gathering place; they danger their lives a number of instances to simply accept the invitation that has been prolonged to them. And after they lastly make it up the mountain to the location of Lacombe’s experiment, their efforts usually are not in useless.

The crew of scientists tasks the five-note musical phrase heard all through the movie, and finally, an alien ship responds. What follows is a powerful, interspecies symphony — as on of the scientists postulates, the guests look like instructing the people a primary vocabulary. There’s no sense of hostility and even suspicion, solely of marvel and fascination as the 2 species try to speak to one another. When the alien creatures disembark from their ship, they stare on the people in awe, and all the things turns into clear: similar to Lacombe, Roy, Jillian, and everybody else, the guests have been motivated by their very own curiosity about Earth and humanity. This is additional strengthened when just a few dozen people, lengthy thought lacking, emerge from the ship, dazed however unhurt. They, too, had been invited, and had been company aboard the ship. Barry is amongst these returned, and safely again in Jillian’s arms, he waves a bittersweet, “Bye-bye,” to his pals.

And because the little inexperienced males method the group of people who’ve volunteered to go aboard the ship — now with last-minute addition Roy amongst them — they encompass Roy, poking and prodding him like curious kids. As they lead him onboard, his delight is evident alongside theirs. He is just not being taken, he has been chosen. One day, he’ll return unhurt, similar to the opposite human company. In the meantime, although, his mission is to study as a lot as he can — and to let his alien hosts study from him.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind has loads of stress; it retains viewers on the perimeters of their seats for 2 full hours. From the weird imagery of the encounters to Roy’s obsessive visions, from scientists deciphering clues to Roy and Jillian being chased up the mountain by the army, there’s by no means a uninteresting second. Yet none of that suspense hinges on concern of what the aliens need or what they may do; as a substitute, it is about an eagerness to study one thing new and witness a monumental second for humanity. The closing scenes of the movie repay in an excellent method — curiosity is happy, however a complete new journey is about to start.

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