After the blockbusting success of Jaws in 1975, everyone wanted to know what a certain Steven Spielberg would do next. The killer shark film had created the summer blockbuster along with Star Wars two years later, how could Spielberg top it? The secret was... don't even try. Spielberg did something he has done successfully for almost 30 years. Switch film genres. If Jaws was his horror film, then Close Encounters perceived as many as a sci-fi film would be almost a family drama.
It may have the background of alien visitation, but Close Encounters' real story is about Roy Neary brilliantly portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss. Roy is a good family man, married with three kids. It was perhaps fate that one evening he was called into work and experienced along with others strange lights in the sky. After this 'encounter' Roy changes his outlook on life, he becomes obsessed with UFO's and keeps having visions and dreams of a mountain-like shape. Jillian, a fellow encountee also shares these visions. Her son is one evening 'taken' by bright lights and she is convinced he has been abducted by aliens. Roy is experiencing what you might call some 'problems'. His behaviour is erratic and after an episode where he wrecks his garden and steals his neighbour's chick wire fence, his wife leaves him and takes the children.
This event spurs Roy on even further to find the truth of the lights. Whilst all this has been happening in middle America, French scientist Lacombe has been travelling the world investigating strange phenomena. Lacombe is played with great authority by the late French director Francois Truffaut. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Teri Garr as Roy's wife and Melinda Dillion as Jillian. Also watch out for Lance Henriksen in an early role.
Made in 1977, Spielberg would revisit his film three years later to add some extra scenes and effects to form what was probably the first ever 'Special Edition'. It is this version Columbia have always released since then. I, myself didn't catch the original edition of the film at the cinema and have only seen it at home. It would be nice to compare the two, but I believe it is this cut Spielberg prefers. This R2 Japanese disc is a re-issue by Columbia as part of their price cut range.
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