Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind ★★★★★

100

(35mm, Director's Cut)

If Jaws was the rise of the commercial blockbuster - albeit one with sharp, savage technical bravura and small character dynamics - then Close Encounters was the setting sun of abstract, sprawling, experimental science-fiction. Spielberg's trademarks are all here in abundance (crumbling family units, cross-talking, sustained sequences of suspense) but the focus in this 1977 classic is primarily one of sculpture and confrontation, engagement and rapport. Spielberg communicates through universal methods of information - TVs, radio signals, air traffic controllers etc. - but deliberately keeps Roy in the dark to fend for his own journey, one formed via artistic creation and sculpting of visions and flashes of inspiration. Much of Close Encounters is hinged on the inability to understand the unknown and the unspoken acknowledgement that it's okay to embrace the mystery. Roy being led into the light of the Mothership is enough to bring on the tears, but when he glances back towards Lacombe (an eye-to-eye connection of the highest possible communion), language, statistics, scientific progress collapse in the face of unity and empathetic solidarity. It isn't Steven's most beautiful (A.I.) or heavenly (Jurassic Park) or tender (War Horse) endeavor, but it's certainly his most staggering.

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