Thursday, March 19, 2020

Great Scenes 5: Close Encounters of the Third Kind - UFO Encounter

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is probably my favorite Spielberg movie, in the top five for sure. In this scene electrician Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfus) has his first encounter with a UFO. The two minute scene is a marvel in its use of sound, light, and editing. Of course the visitors turn to be friendly, but Spielberg keeps the audience guessing until the end.  The early encounter scenes are shot with a sense of suspense and wonder. Early versions of the Close Encounters script took on a more religious significance, focusing on a military officer who debunks UFO stories to the press, only to have an encounter of his own and eventually becoming a UFO evangelist. Those elements are still present in the film, especially here with Roy seeing the light here and being forever changed. The New Age overtones in the final encounter at the end speak more to the cultural climate of the 1970s, yet remain a unique expression of hope.

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