Steven Spielberg makes beautiful movies. That's like saying the sky is blue, the sun shines and water is wet. It's just a fact. Upon revisiting a lot of these older films, I realized that something is missing in today's modern movie going experience. Twenty-first-century movie making is a lot of digital, overall pretty pictures, but you can instantly tell the difference between a movie made today with digital versus a movie made with film stock.
With Film, the colors just pop. Watching Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, the images from the film are so vibrant and colorful. The Aliens, as they zip through the back roads of Indiana, the long shot of the young boy running from his farm house at night, the scenes in the desert with the UN convoy or the in the cold opening in Mexico are beautiful. What Speilberg can do with a camera is amazing and it's no wonder that he's so successful with his movies.
It's not just the filmmaking itself, the special effects, even after all of these years are incredible, if noticeable, it's obvious that the effects haven't really stood the test of time, but this movie doesn't require special effects to tell the story, they are there to enhance the story, to bring that necessary tension to the movie and provide us with that thrill.
The cast is great. Bob Balaban (one of Spielberg's go-to guys) plays David Laughlin, cartographer turned translator. The movie opens with him and a team of government scientific researchers who have come across a bunch of missing World War II training planes in the Sonoran desert in Mexico. After the opening, the film takes us to Indiana where we meet Melinda Dillon's character, who's son awakens to his electronic toys and record player starting up by themselves. He's pulled out of the house by something and chases after it. Melinda sees this and gives chase and that's when we're introduced to Richard Dreyfus and his wife, played by Teri Garr.
We're all familiar with the story. It's the direction of Spielberg and the cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond that really take this film to the next level. It's a compelling drama, with a Sci-Fi undertone. Each of the players in the story is somehow touched by the Aliens that visit and are compelled to go to the Devils Tower in Wyoming, where the final confrontation is about to take place.
What's so good about Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, on top of the direction, cinematography, acting and script are that this movie has shades of all of Spielberg's future movies. Indiana Jones, E.T. (especially E.T.), Poltergeist and all of the others that he's created in his career. Hindsight being what it is, CEOTTK is the lynch pin of Spielberg's career. It's the first movie that he had ultimate control over. After the success of Jaws, Spielberg could write his own ticket and he made something that was, for Spielberg, very personal. Spielberg took a risk with his career, but you can see it in this movie, Spielberg is just a great director.
This movie is like a really good book that you can't just put down. The movie pulls you in, from the very beginning in the Sonoran desert to the final destination at Devils Tower in Wyoming, once the movie has started, there is a need to see what happens next and that's what is missing from most of the films of today. They are mostly just movies that jump from scene to scene with little or no context, little character and a whole lot of special effects to pretty it up.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
PG | 2h 18min | Drama, Sci-Fi | 14 December 1977 (USA)
After an accidental encounter with otherworldly vessels, an ordinary man follows a series of psychic clues to the first scheduled meeting between representatives of Earth and visitors from the cosmos.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr