Friday, 1 July 2011

Electric Cinematic: "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." 1977


Close Encounters is my all time favourite movie. I saw it one dank November day in late '77 and the sheer magnificence of it has stayed with me till this very day. Other than what I read in the old UK sci-fi magazine Starburst, I had no idea what to expect. Back in those days there was none of the media blitz that most movies receive today upon release so I came to this one unspoiled - other than knowing it was about flying saucers. It was a Saturday, and to see it meant a trip to the big city to an old art deco cinema called the Empire. We arrived early, did the burger thing, and planned our attack because also showing was Star Wars which had been released to huge success a couple of months earlier and was still showing at the nearby Odeon picture house. The plan was to see CE3K first, then run for the late showing of Star Wars. No problemo.

So we arrived at the Empire and stood in a huge line to see what the guy who frightened the crap out of us in Jaws had come up with next. A couple of hours later I came out of the cinema in a daze. I was an emotional wreck inside. My mind was a whirlpool of moments, recollections and impressions which I was trying to get my 16 year old head around all at once. Sometimes in life something comes along which knocks you sideways and leaves you there with a sense that something wonderful had happened and the world is a better place for having experienced that something. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was that something for me. I wanted to be Roy Neary. 

Whilst the whole movie up to the last 20 minutes or so is a wonderful collection of inspired moments, it's those last 20 minutes which lift this from a great movie to an unmatched classic. Watching those last 20 minutes I remember feeling a deep sense of peace inside and awe at what I was living through onscreen. Even 34 years later I can still feel that sense of peace when I watch this movie. The moment Neary takes that first step into the Mothership is the moment I truly began to look up and beyond my own small world.

As planned we saw the late showing of Star Wars. I'd already seen it a couple of times and loved it, but this time was different. All I could think of as the Millenium Falcon blasted out of Mos Eisley spaceport was to wonder what Roy Neary would be doing right now..


  1. Hi,I also saw these films aged 16 so we'd be the same age, Did you read SF at the time? I'd been devouring the genre ever since a friend lent me a Lensman book at age 11.
    My favourite authors then were Asimov and Heinlein.
    now it's Banks and Niven.
    I'm thoroughly enjoying this new blog of yours, hope you keep it going.

  2. Hi Colin

    Thanks for the nice comments about ELECTRIC PIX. Much appreciated. Yes, always been a huge fan of anything to do with SF since I was a kid. Read most of the classic SF novels over time. I'd say HG Wells was my favourite author and my current interest are the novels by Stephen Baxter. His "The Time Ships." book, the sequel to Wells original "Time Machine.", is a fantastic hardcore SF read. Always had an interest in time travel fiction and "The Time Ships" is a real mind bender on that score..

    Glad you like the blog. Yes, I'll continue posting to it as I enjoy doing it very much.