The cinematic importance of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind can’t be underestimated. Coming off the back of the monster success of Jaws and in development before he took to the water to make the shark epic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind confirmed his arrival in the upper echelon of Hollywood. Already a star on the rise, a member of the legendary movie brats that included George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian DePalma among others, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (or CE3K as it’s often abbreviated) was a risky and costly project to embark upon. Greenlit by the struggling Columbia Pictures, the movie cost $20 million dollars to make and ultimately brought in a worldwide haul of $337 million worldwide, no small feat for a film released in the same calendar year as Star Wars.
CE3K is rightly regarded as one of Spielberg’s greats, sitting comfortably alongside such classics as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws and E.T. Imbuing the film with a sense of unease, mystery and wonder, Spielberg balanced the urban drama of Roy Neary (Spielberg’s ‘70s muse Richard Dreyfuss) and Jillian and her toddler son Barry Guiler (Melinda Dillon and Cary Guffey) with the government cover-up led by French scientist Claude Lacombe (François Truffaut) and his interpreter David Laughlin (Bob Balaban). Accompanied by a masterful score by John Williams, deep in his 1975 – 1985 hot streak, starship designs by Ralph McQuarrie and visual effects by Douglas Trumbull and you had the recipe for a film that mixed the paranoia of Watergate with the post-May ’77 wonder evoked by Star Wars.
November 2017 sees the 40th anniversary of the release of the film and this expansive Blu-ray collection packs in as much as it possibly can into the set. All three versions of the film are included. The original 1977 Theatrical Version, the misguided 1980 Special Edition which infamously included new effects showing the inside of the mothership and Spielberg’s restorative and more satisfying 1997 Director's Cut. Also included are Close Encounters of the Third Kind Making-of Documentary, "Steven Spielberg: 30 Years of Close Encounters" featurette, Deleted Scenes and the classic 1977 Featurette "Watch the Skies". Also included is Storyboard to Scene comparisons, an extensive Photo Gallery, "A View From Above" and the Theatrical Trailers but new to this gorgeously packaged set is the "Three Kinds of Close Encounters" Featurette, a brand new interview with Spielberg on the legacy of Close Encounters of the Third Kind plus interviews with J.J. Abrams and Denis Villeneuve about the impact of the film.
Arguably the most fun inclusion is the "Steven's Home Movies & Outtakes" featurette which includes rare and never-before-seen home movies and gags from the set of the film but ultimately the film itself is the real treat of this box set, a movie which continues to engage audiences forty years on.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND – 40TH ANNIVERSARY / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: STEVEN SPIELBERG / STARRING: RICHARD DREYFUSS, TERI GARR, MELINDA DILLON, FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT / RELEASE DATE: 18TH SEPTEMBER