Friday, November 16, 2012

Close Encounters Turns 35

The movie that thrilled and terrified and had us chasing dreams of Devil's Tower in Wyoming turns 35 today.  Close Encounters of the Third Kind opened on November 16, 1977 and aside from battling back and forth with Star Wars for awards (Close Encounters would go on to be nominated for eight Academy Awards), the movies nevertheless formed the seminal groundwork for the future and resurgence of science fiction cinema.

While I favored Star Wars in my youth over Close Encounters, Spielberg's movie still garnered a hell of a lot attention for a then 8-year old boy.  I remember being utterly fascinated at the brilliantly multi-colored spaceships that Richard Dreyfuss chased around in his company truck, and utterly freaked out when the spidery, long-limbed alien first came out of the mothership, even though it raised it's hands in welcome and peace.


 I still marvel at how Steven Spielburg worked so many awesome alien contact concepts into the movie.  From the abduction of 3-year old Barry from his home to the military cover up of close alien encounters that have been happening to growing obsessions of those 'chosen' by the aliens to meet with them at the summit of the iconic mountain, everything held us spellbound with the concept of peaceful otherwordly life showing up and inviting a select group of people to the party.  People abducted were returned (still the same age as when they left even decades ago), fake quarantines kept the public away from the coming alien appearance, Richard Dreyfuss became fascinated with his mashed potatoes while being sunburnt on one side as his family fell apart, and ice cream cone shaped spaceships few at tree top level along midwestern blue line highways.

Even better was that we never really saw the aliens in their spectacular ships.  Oh we got a dazzling backlit glimpse of some short, rubbery fellas without distinct facial features, but never a really good look at the little green (gray) men.  It all just added to the wonder of it all, and we so much wanted to be Roy as he was escorted alone to the mothership by a crowd of the visitors.

So Happy Birthday Close Encounters...and thanks for the five musical notes that will always remind us that we are most likely very not alone...



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