CST Throwback Thursday – Film of the Week

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by Kyle Arango,

Remember when you first heard of the idea of Aliens? Life outside of our own on Earth? It was a scary yet fascinating thought to have go on in your head. You would look up to the skies at night and think every plane you saw was a flying saucer and you were going to be abducted. When I was a kid, that thought terrified me. Then I saw the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and my perspective completely changed. Spielberg had once again delivered an amazing film and his legacy continued.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was Spielberg’s follow-up to the blockbuster Jaws. People back in 1977 were all anxious to see what Spielberg had coming up next. What we got was a film not about aliens, but about the people who were obsessed with the idea of them. Spielberg took that feeling of being interested in life from another world and showed us what can happen to a small town that has had an encounter. The people in the town are scared at first by the aliens because they fear they could be dangerous. Instead, the aliens are not here to hurt us, they are here to study us. They are an unknown that bring us a feeling of wonder.

In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, we are driven by two different characters who have had a similar experience but different motives. Richard Dreyfuss as Roy has an encounter at the beginning and then becomes obsessed with finding a mountain. He becomes so obsessed that he drives his family away. Meanwhile Jillian played by Melinda Dillon has lost her son due to an encounter and is also driven to find the mountain because she believes she will find her son there. The mountain symbolizes our curiosity and drive to discover the unknown. Roy and Jillian have a similar journey driven by different goals. This is shown when Roy wants to get as close as he can to the alien vessel while Jillian just wants to wait and see if her son is there. Roy later chooses to go on the alien ship and live his life with them. He represents our wonder in life and how your drive to achieve your goals can become a reality. He did not know what he was looking for until he found it.

Now let’s get to the other aspects of the film and Spielberg has a hand in all of them. First off, the visuals and cinematography are breathtaking. When we finally get to see the mother ship, you are still blown away by how amazing it looks. Then we see the aliens and they are not much different from us. Everything looks stunning and brings you back to those days when you wondered if life outside our Earth was actually real. John Williams also comes to play here with his score that gives you a feeling of wonder. He brings you a feeling of youthfulness and desire. All these components combined lead to this spectacular film. The third act when the aliens and mankind are communicating through music which leads to the reveal of the mother-ship is so beautiful with so little dialogue. There is a long stretch where no one talks, and the music carries you. It is incredibly difficult for anyone to stay engaged with no dialogue and Spielberg is able to do it masterfully. Spielberg is the star of this film and his passion for the work is portrayed perfectly onscreen.

At the end of it all, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a classic film that still holds up to this day. The visuals, story, and score combined with everything else leads to an awe-inspiring film. Spielberg followed up Jaws with another all timer and helped establish his legacy as the greatest filmmaker ever. For this to be only your third feature film ever is unbelievable. Every time I look at the sky at night and see something out of the normal, I think of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and that sense of wonder immediately rushes back to me. If you have not seen this film, do yourself a favor and see it now. If you can ever catch this in a theater, do not miss the opportunity. You will not be disappointed.