Close Encounters

One of the posters for Close EncountersThe full title of the film was Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but everyone called it Close Encounters for short. This was a modern aliens film, before which all sci-fi films had cast the aliens as hostile invaders. Though the mind control business was a bit scary, especially things like the repetitive tune (buh-buh-buh-boo-boooo) and the mashed potato mountain, the film was essentially about a benign visitation with attempted communication.

Richard Dreyfuss, who was in Jaws, played the lead character (according to Wikipedia, director Steven Spielberg wanted Steve McQueen in this role). He was a normal American bloke who had witnessed a flying saucer along with a group of others. Afterwards all of the people who had been there had visions of a mountain and had that tune in their heads. It became more imperative as time went on and he started to build the mountain in his home, which prompted his wife to leave him. I loved this bit because he was acting completely crazy and she was worried about what people would think. aliens in silhouette on Close Encounters

All the people went up to the mountain even though officials had tried to block it off and met the spaceship, which played music. People came out of the spaceship, and they were all past abductees. We saw the aliens right at the end and even then only in silhouette. It was quite a simplistic storyline, but the power of it was in the special effects and the strength of the characters as they were slowly driven crazy by the calling to visit the mountain.

I first saw the film in the early Eighties but it was made in the 1977 so warrants a place here. We used to sing the tune in a spooky way whenever we were thinking of UFOs. I had to have ‘the third kind’ explained to me, as I’m sure many others did, because it was an era of sequels and I wondered what had happened to the first two films.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room


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