Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Director: Steven Spielberg

(1977| 132 minutes| G)

Alien visitations to Earth are a staple of science fiction. One of the things that differentiates Close Encounters from its predecessors is that the aliens are friendly, curious, and even playful. Richard Dreyfuss is Roy Neary, a regular guy with three kids and a wife (Teri Garr) who’s hyper-concerned about what the neighbours will think. When he has a close encounter with an alien spaceship, Roy’s family suddenly becomes secondary to his obsession with aliens. This is one of those rare films that works equally well for children as for adults: kids see it as an unthreatening look at the possibilities that the universe holds; for adults it’s an accomplished fairy tale. Whether UFOs exist or not, this movie beautifully postulates the best of all alternatives – that the government cares about first contact and about the welfare of its citizens, that the aliens are benevolent, and that we can take comfort from the fact that ‘we are not alone’. Remarkably, a film like Close Encounters speaks to the adult in the child and the child in the adult.

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