Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind ★★★★½

In the doc that precedes the 40th anniversary release, director Denis Villeneuve suggests the movie is a personal one for Spielberg beyond his obvious fascination with the material. He says the movie is about movie-making too, which struck me as a little trite - and cliche - in the moment. I mean, how many directors and their films has this been / could it be said about?

And yet, watching this time, I was struck by Roy Neary's journey from blue collar electric lineman to obsessed artist, chasing the perfect representation of his vision regardless of how it alienates him from his family, friends and co-workers - all of society really. I never gave it a second thought before, but it's notable that Roy - already a bit of a dreamer in his model train world, and who early labors unsuccessfully to convince his children that "Pinocchio" is "magic" and a preferable experience to Goofy Golf - capably navigates around the mountain because he knows the layout better than his two companions. They comment that they never drew more than the front, and he replies something to the effect that, "You should have tried sculpturing!" Many have had the same vision as Roy, and all were inspired to create something that reflected that vision; only Roy was so passionate and persistent that he sought the proper tools to recreate it.

"This is important. This means something," is everyman's declaration, a reassuring cry to the cosmos that your life matters, *you* matter. But it's also the artist's creed - you may suffer, but your work matters, *art* matters. In the end, it does. Shepherded by another sensitive soul, who spans the globe seeking his own tools of expression and 'blocks' all the people and machinery necessary to communicate, light and sound ultimately combine to bridge a gap between worlds, revealing a higher truth. More than a cinephile's wink, of course that gentle guide - that influence - is played by Francois Truffaut.

If you like this review, try out the Filmspotting podcast. We discussed "Close Encounters" on episode #422 in 2012.

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