Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

35mm film, 70mm film (blow-up), filmed in Panavision, Metrocolor, 2.35:1
Dolby System, English
Reviewed on The EOFFTV Review

An American science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg. It has been re-released twice since in two different versions, the “Special Edition” in 1980 (which shortened some sequences but added the discovery of the SS Cotopaxi in the Gobi Desert and a sequence at the end of the film set inside the alien mothership) and as the “Collector's Edition” in 1998 (which restored the USAF press conference removed from the “Special Edition” and removed the mothership interior).

Plot Summary

A group of and a handful of unrelated civilians are touched by a series of UFO encounters around the world. One civilian, Roy Neary, becomes obsessed with a vision of a mountain which he soon identifies as The Devil's Tower in Wyoming. Neary, the scientists and dozens of other civilians similarly haunted by the strange visions converge on the mountain to await Mankind's first face-to-face contact with an alien race.


Directed by: Steven Spielberg
© 1977 Columbia Pictures Industries Inc.
A Columbia presentation in association with EMI. A Julia Phillips & Michael Phillips production
Produced by: Julia Phillips and Michael Phillips
Written by: Steven Spielberg; Paul Schrader [uncredited]
Director of Photography: Vilmos Zsigmond
Editor: Michael Kahn, Steven Spielberg [uncredited]
Music by: John Williams
Production Sound Mixer: Gene Cantamesa
Wardrobe Supervisor: Jim Linn
Make-up Supervisor: Bob Westmoreland
Hairdresser: Edie Panda
Realization of ‘Extraterrestrial' by: Carlo Rambaldi
Special Photographic Effects by: Douglas Trumbull
Production Designer: Joe Alves

Richard Dreyfuss (Roy Neary)
François Truffaut as [Claude] Lacombe
Teri Garr (Ronnie Neary)
Melinda Dillon (Jillian Guiler)
Cary Guffey as Barry Guiler
Bob Balaban (David Laughlin)
Roberts Blossom (farmer)
Merrill Connally (team leader)
George DiCenzo (Major Benchley)
Lance Henriksen (Robert)
Warren Kemmerling (Wild Bill)
J. Patrick McNamara (project leader)
Philip Dodds (Jean Claude)
Phil Dodds (ARP musician) 1Philip Dodds is credited twice in the end credits with slightly different spellings of his name and very different character names. In the original shooting script “Jean Claude” and “ARP musician” were different characters but were combined during filming. At the time Dodds was an employee of ARP Instruments Inc and was hired to install and program the ARP 2500 synthesizer used by the scientists to communicate with the . Spielberg liked the way he looked so hired him to play the technician operating the synthesizer.
Shawn Bishop (Brad Neary)
Adrienne Campbell (Sylvia Neary)
Justin Dreyfuss (Toby Neary)
Amy Douglass, Alexander Lockwood (implantees)
Gene Dynarski (Ike)
Mary Gafrey (Mrs Harris)
Norman Bartold (Ohio tolls)


Alternative Titles

Bliski susreti trece vrste – Serbia
Bliskie spotkania trzeciego stopnia – Poland
Blizka setkani tretiho druhu – Czechoslovakia
The Close Encounter of the Third Kind – working title
Contatos Imediatos do Terceiro Grau – Brazil, Portugal
Encontres a la tercera fase – Spain (Catalan )
Encontros Imediatos do 3º Grau – Portugal
Encuentros cercanos del tercer tipo – Argentina, Peru
Encuentros Cercanos del Tercer Tipo – Mexico
Encuentros en la tercera fase – Spain
Encuentros en la tercera fase: Edición especial – Spain (reissue)
Harmadik típusú találkozások – Hungary
Incontri ravvicinati del terzo tipo – Italy
Kolmannen asteen yhteys – Finland
Michi tono sôgû – Japan
Nærkontakt af tredie grad – Denmark, Norway
Närkontakt av tredje graden – Finland (Swedish), Sweden
Rencontres du troisième type – France, French Canada
The Special Edition: Close Encounters of the Third Kind – reissue title
Stenes epafes tritou typou – Greece
Stenes epafes tritou typou: Special ekdosi – Greece (reissue)
Tehlikeli iliskiler – Turkey
Unheimliche Begegnung der dritten Art – West Germany
Unheimliche Begegnung der dritten Art – Die neue Version – West Germany (reissue)
Watch the Skies – working title

See also
Firelight (1964)

Includes extracts from
Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century (1953)
The Ten Commandments (1956)

Extracts included in
100 Years at the Movies (1994)
Making Close Encounters (1990)
The Making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1998)
Precious Images (1986)

Production Notes

The special effects team added a miniature of R2-D2 from Star Wars (1977) to the underside of the alien mothership. It's briefly visible hanging upside down as the ship rises over the Devil's Tower mountain.

In the UK, the Special Edition version was given a press screening for the purposes of registration under the Films Act 1960.


Initially, critics seemed unsure of what to make of Close Encounters and although it was generally positively received, critical opinion was sometimes contradictory. For example, in Variety “Murf” commented that “the first 100 minutes, however are somewhat redundant in exposition and irritating in tone” 2Variety 9 November 1977 p.16 while Monthly Film Bulletin‘s Richard Combs believed that “before it succumbs in the second half to a tone of awed, quasi-religious uplift (efficiently packaged as the ‘Force' in Star Wars), and to a plot borrowed from the most complacent science fiction of the Fifties, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a startlingly innovative blockbuster.” 3Monthly Film Bulletin vol.45 no.531 (April 1978) pp.63-64 Murf went on to praise the effects which they believed were “superbly realized” but was unimpressed by what he called the film's “audio cacophony” and the “frenzied acting of the principals” before concluding that “the denouement is light years ahead of the climactic nonsense of Stanley Kubrick's 2001 – A Space Odyssey but that it “lacks the warmth and humanity of George Lucas' “Star Wars.”” Combs criticised what he saw as a tendency for Spielberg's films “from Duel onwards” to have “details of plot, character and setting [that] have a peculiarly blank, unmediated quality.” He criticised the lack of “discussion here – or analysis at any level – of the UFO phenomenon as such,” though ultimately conceded that it was “a joy to watch, anchoring its unimaginable events in the most ordinary settings imaginable, producing a peculiar frisson that is part poetic, part comic.” Bill Kelley, writing in Cinefantastique, felt that “the human factor in Spielberg's screenplay is, well, boring” and that “once the initial suspense is satisfied, there is not much else going-on.” 4Cinefantastique vol.7 no.2 (Summer 1978) pp.30-31; 36 He did, however, note that “its major asset in terms of credibility is that its visual pyrotechnics are incidental to the narrative, not the whole raison d'etre. lt's a praiseworthy approach – especially compared to the human stick-figures of Star Wars.”

Of the “Special Edition“, Todd McCarthy in Variety 5Variety 6 August 1980 pp.22, 33 wrote that: “Pervasive feeling left by this new cut, which doesn't substantively alter achievement, impact or meaning of the film, is that this is the film writer-director Steven Spielberg would have made in the first place, given sufficient time in the editing stage. As most of the changes are of a streamlining nature, it is doubtful whether audiences will, with two or three exceptions, be able to tell this version from the previous one.” He felt that audiences tempted by the promise of “more contact with the aliens inside the Mother Ship, will undoubtedly feel let down.”

In 2001, again in Variety, Scott Hettrick felt that “Spielberg's Capraesque view of alien encounters holds up less well over time because it is so focused on the special effects-laden final encounter. Although that generated awe in 1977, it lost much of its surprise appeal after the first viewing and has become far less powerful with the advancement of special effects since.” 6Variety no.383 (28 May-3 June 2001) pp.23-24



  • American Cinematographer vol.59 no.1 (January 1978) pp.26, 52. 28-29 – illustrated interview
  • American Cinematographer May 1980 p.436 – illustrated article
  • American Film vol.3 no.2 (November 1977) pp.24-29 – illustrated article
  • Art in America vol.88 (July 2000) pp.103-104 – article (Gregory Crewdson at Luhring Augustine by Edward Leffingwell)
  • Ciné-Revue vol.58 no.8 (23 February 1978) p.11 – illustrated article
  • Cinefantastique vol.5 no.1 (Spring 1976) p.35 – note (Coming)
  • Cinefantastique vol.5 no.3 (Winter 1977) p.36 – illustrated article (Steven Spielberg wants you! by Don Shay & Bhob Stewart)
  • Cinefantastique vol.6 no.1 (Summer 1977) p.24 – note (Coming)
  • Cinefantastique vol.6 no.2 (Autumn 1977) p.34 – illustrated article (Close Encounters alien reject)
  • Cinefantastique vol.6 no.4/vol.7 no.1 (1978) pp.32-39 – illustrated interviews with Steven Spielberg and Douglas Trumbull (Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Richard Villard)
  • Cinefantastique vol.7 no.2 (Summer 1978) pp.36-37. 30-31 – illustrated review (Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Bill Kelley); illustrated interview (Paul Schrader on CE3K by Mark Patrick Carducci)
  • Cinefantastique vol.7 no.3/4 (Autumn 1978) pp.4-20; 20-29; 30-57, 80-95 – illustrated interviews with Carlo Rambaldi, Tom Burman, Bob Baker and others (Close Encounters extraterrestrials by Don Shay); illustrated interview with Steven Spielberg (Steven Spielberg on Close Encounters by Don Shay); illustrated interview with Douglas Trumbull (Close Encounters at Future General by Don Shay)
  • Cinefantastique vol.35 no.1 (February/March 2003) p.88 – illustrated article (Latent image: we are not alone by Jeff Bond)
  • Continuum vol.24 no.4 (August 2010) pp.587-600 – article (Undoing the magic? DVD extras and the pleasure behind the scenes by Nicola Jean Evans)
  • Deathray no.21 (October/November 2009) pp.138-145 – illustrated article (Time trap: Destination: 1977 by Jes Bickham and Guy Haley)
  • DGA Magazine vol.23 no.5 (1999) pp.96-97 – review (Directors on disk by Nick Redman)
  • L'Écran Fantastique no.4 (1978) pp.80-93 – review
  • Empire no.101 (November 1997 p.144 – illustrated review (Video to buy by Neil Jeffries)
  • Empire no.105 (March 1998) pp.96-112 – illustrated article (Empire's tribute to Steven Spielberg by Ian Freer)
  • Empire no.116 (February 1999) p.132 – illustrated soundtrack review (Home entertainment: soundtracks by Ian Freer)
  • Empire no.201 (March 2006) pp.77-88, 90-101 – illustrated article (201 Greatest movies of all time)
  • Empire no.209 (November 2006) pp.165-174 – illustrated article (The essence of greatness)
  • Empire no.218 (August 2007) pp.160-161 – illustrated article (The top ten performances by directors by Leigh Singer)
  • Empire no.222 (December 2007) pp.170-179 – illustrated article (“He says the sun came out last night. He says it sang to him”)
  • Empire no.223 (January 2008) p.201 – illustrated review (At home/DVD reissues: Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition by Ian Freer)
  • Empire no.232 (October 2008) pp.124-125 – illustrated article (Apocalypse Now reduced! by Simon Crook)
  • Empire Steven Spielberg Special pp.[whole issue] – illustrated article (The directors collection: Steven Spielberg by Simon Braund et al)
  • Empire Sci-fi Supplement (February 1998) pp.16-17 – illustrated article (Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Andrew Collins)
  • Empire Sci-Fi Special (June 2003) pp.[whole issue] – illustrated article (The ten most influential sci-fi films ever made by Ian Freer et al)
  • Empire Director's Supplement (July 2005) p.30 – illustrated article (Steven Spielberg: Defining Moment)
  • Fantastic Films vol.1 no.3 (August 1978) pp.6-27 – illustrated interview with Douglas Trumbull (Douglas Trumbull by James Delson)
  • Film Review Special no.25 Sci-Fi (1998) pp.24-25 – illustrated article (Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
  • Film Score Monthly vol.3 no.4 (1998) pp. 27-32; 29-31 – article (Watch the record stores, please by Jeff Bond); article (I was abducted by an album by Jeff Bond)
  • Film Score Monthly vol.6 n6 July 2001) pp.45-46 – illustrated review (On close examination: early autumn brings a bountiful DVD… by Andy Dursin)
  • Film-Echo/Filmwoche no.14 (10 March 1978) p.15 – review
  • Filmmakers' Newsletter vol.11 no.2 (December 1977) pp.18-20; 21-27; 28-30 – review; illustrated article; illustrated interview with Steven Spielberg
  • Films and Filming vol.24 no.6 (March 1978) pp.25-28 – illustrated note
  • Films and Filming vol.24 no.8 (May 1978) pp.36-37 – review
  • Films Illustrated vol.6 no.64 (December 1976) pp.130 – review
  • Films Illustrated vol.7 no.80 (April 1978) pp.286, 297-303 – review
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.240 no.20 (27 February 1976) p.20 – credits (Watching Skies)
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.240 no.25 (5 March 1976) p.16 – credits
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.248 no.48 (4 November 1977) pp.3, 15 – review
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.254 no.6 (10 November 1978) p.3 – illustrated article
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.262 no.43 (1 August 1980) p.3 – review
  • Journal of Popular Film vol.6 no.4 (1978) pp.342-349 – illustrated article
  • Jump Cut no.18 (August 1978) pp.3-6 – illustrated article
  • Keyboard vol.11 no.4 (issue #108) (April 1985) pp.44, 46, 48, 52 – illustrated interview with Jerry Goldsmith (Jerry Goldsmith part 2 by Tom Darter)
  • Legend no.27 (1998) pp.42-43 – soundtrack review (CD reviews by Dirk Wickenden)
  • The Listener vol.99 no.2551 (16 March 1978) pp.353-354 – review
  • Literature/Film Quarterly vol.8 no.3 (1980) pp.156-164 – illustrated article
  • Literature/Film Quarterly vol.19 no.3 (1991) pp.188-196 – illustrated article (Politics and Parousia in Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Robert Torry)
  • Literature/Film Quarterly vol.24 no.4 (1996) pp.376-382 – article (Language and the music of the spheres: Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Charlene Engel)
  • Montage no.41 (Summer 1978) pp.29-30 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.45 no.531 (April 1978) pp.63-64 – credits, review (by Richard Combs)
  • Movietone News no.58-59 (14 August 1978) pp.27-30 – review
  • New Musical Express 27 September 1980 pp.28-29 – illustrated review (Silver Screen: Yes, it's special by Angus MacKinnon)
  • Radio Times 27 September 2008) p.45 – illustrated article (Barry Norman's Greatest Hits by Barry Norman)
  • Science Fiction Review no.25 (May 1978) pp.14-15; 15 – illustrated review (Close Encounters of a Spielberg Kind by Jack L. Chalker); illustrated review (The George Warren View by George Warren; The Reg View by Richard E. Geis)
  • Screen International no.130 (18 March 1978) p.22 – review
  • Screen International no.132 (1 April 1978) p.10 – illustrated article
  • Screen International no.164 (11 November 1978) p.6 – note
  • Screen International no.228 (16-23 February 1980) p.9 – note (World news desk: Germany by Richard Pohler)
  • Screen International no.254 (16 August 1980) p.6 – note
  • SFX no.292 (November 2017) p. – note (Also out)
  • Sight & Sound vol.46 no.2 (Spring 1977) pp.111-113 – illustrated interview with Steven Spielberg
  • Sight & Sound vol.47 no.2 (Spring 1978) pp.99-100, 128 – review
  • Sight & Sound vol.47 no.3 (Summer 1978) pp.167-174 – review
  • Sight & Sound vol.2 no.3 (July 1992) p.60 – review
  • Sight & Sound vol.11 no.8 (August 2001) p.59 – illustrated review (Homemovies: reviews by Danny Leigh)
  • Soundtrack Collector's Newsletter vol.3 no.14 (June 1978) pp.3-7 – soundtrack review
  • Soundtrack! The Collector's Quarterly no.17 (June 1998) p.29 – article (Restoring Close Encounters by Tony Buchsbaum)
  • Starburst vol.1 no.6 (January 1979) pp.26-31 – illustrated interview (The Road to Close Encounters by Tony Crawley)
  • Starburst no.275 (July 2001) pp.51-56 – illustrated article (Re-encountered by Howard Maxford)
  • Starburst no.276 (August 2001) p.64 – illustrated review (Reviews: DVD file by Ian Atkins)
  • Starburst no.307 (February 2004) pp.18-30 – illustrated article (Top 50 sci-fi movies, books and TV series ever!)
  • Starburst no.350 (June 2007) pp.68-76 – illustrated article (30 defining moments)
  • Starburst no.357 (December 2007) p.101 – illustrated review (Reviews: DVD by David Richardson)
  • Starburst Special (1991) pp.16-17 – illustrated article (Lunch with Julia Phillips by Howard Maxford)
  • Starburst Special no.31 Outer Space (April 1997) pp.4-7 – illustrated article (Close Encounters 20 years on by Howard Maxford)
  • Take One vol.6 no.2 (January 1978) pp.7-8 – review
  • Total Movie (February/March 2001 pp.62-71 – illustrated article (Timeless sci-fi: Ten visual effects classics that looks as good today as they did back then by Ron Magid)
  • Total Film no.75 (April 2003) pp.76-77 – illustrated interview with Bob Black (Extra! extra! by Kevin Murphy)
  • Variety 9 November 1977 p.16 – credits, review (by Murf)
  • Variety 6 August 1980 pp.22, 33 – review of the Special Edition (Close Encounters' revision by Todd McCarthy)
  • Variety no.383 (28 May – 3 June 2001) pp.23-24 – illustrated DVD review (by Scott Hettrick)
  • Wide Angle vol.5 no.4 (1983) pp.23-29 – review


  • The New Republic 10 December 1977 pp.20-22 – review (Stanley Kauffman on film by Stanley Kauffman)


  • Alternate Americas: Science Fiction Film and American Culture by M. Keith Booker pp. 125-140 – article (Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction by Phil Hardy (ed) p.332-333 – illustrated credits, review
  • BFI Screen Guides: 100 Science Fiction Films by Barry Keith Grant pp.33-34 – illustrated credits, review
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind Diary by Bob Balaban – production details
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind Official Collectors Edition by Chris Rowley (ed.)
  • The Columbia Checklist: The Feature Films, Cartoons, Serials and Short Subjects of Columbia Pictures, 1922-1988 by Len D. Martin p.57 – credits
  • Columbia Pictures Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, 1928-1982 by Michael R. Pitts pp.37-38 – credits, review
  • Constellations: Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Jon Towlson
  • Hoffman's Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.75 – review, credits
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.61-62 – credits
  • Science Fiction Film. Genres in American Cinema pp.142-160 – article (The science fiction film as marvelous text: Close Encounters of the Third Kind by J.P. Telotte)
  • Science Fiction Films of the Seventies by Craig W. Anderson pp.172-178 – credits, review
  • Science Fiction in the Movies: An A-Z by Roy Pickard p.15 – credits, note
  • Steven Spielberg: A Biography by Joseph McBride pp.14, 17, 18, 19, 49, 118, 121, 151, 195, 215, 227, 229, 252, 257, 261-296, 323, 504
  • Trick Cinematography by R.M. Hayes pp.222-225

Other Sources

  • BFI Southbank Guide September 2010 p.16 – illustrated listing
  • BFI Southbank Guide June 2016 p.11 – illustrated listing