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Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Comparison:

  • Special Edition
  • Director's Cut
Release: Apr 04, 2011 - Author: Coffus - Translator: Gladion - external link: IMDB
"Close encounter of the first kind:
Sighting of a UFO,

Close encounter of the second kind:
Physical evidence,

Close encounter of the third kind:
Contact"




The Story:

One night, family father Roy Neary witnesses, together with a few other people the appearance of seemingly exterrestrial space ships. His life is completely turned upside down by that, since his thoughts only pivot on a hill-like shape from then on. Soon, he also realizes that he is not the only one with this fate and thus, he starts searching for the origin of the shape and the unknown flying objects. As the UN starts finding out about this, it searches for answers, as well, though...

Backgrounds:

Steven Spielberg's science-fiction-debut titled "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is a film that, to this day, makes for a pretty unique movie in this genre. Be it because of the fantastic, lovingly-made special-effects, that never lost any bit of their fascination, the wonderful music of Spielberg's regular composer John Williams, the greatly played characters or the neutral story itself. Back then, there was the image of the enemy from space burnt into the people's heads, mostly of course due to the big science-fiction-horror-wave of the 50s and 60s with flicks like "The Thing" or "War of the Worlds", both concerning the expectations for any science-fiction-film to come and the real world. Movies with a sort of more positive feedback from the broad expanse of space, such as "The Day the Earth Stood Still", were rather rare.
Thus it came, that the film was loved by both audiences and critics in 1977. It grossed more than 100 Million Dollars and claimed numerous prizes, most notably an oscar for best camera and a special-oscar for best sound-editing. It was also taken into the "National Film Registry".


So Spielberg was happy with the theatrical version thus far, but some things couldn't be achieved like he intentionally wanted, due to issues with both deadlines and costs. When the film finally showed to be a bombshell (and saved the production company "Columbia TriStar" from a financial hardship), Spielberg was offered the director's chair for a sequel, three years later. He denied, though, for him, the story ended with the final shot of his film. Effectively as a compromise, he agreed to make a new version of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", the Special Edition, as which the film was to be re-released in theaters. He was provided with a new budget for this version, with which he shot two new, big scenes - on the one hand the scene of the discovery of the ship in the Gobi desert, and on the other hand scenes of the spaceship-interio in the finale. Additionally, there were other, reshot scenes implemented, which were probably simply dropped for the theatrical version. In the same way, there were many scenes from the theatrical version removed, to tighten the pacing.
The scene in the ship's interior was the one Spielberg thought was the most neccessary, because he wanted to give audiences really something new, which made them go into theaters again out of curiousisty. Afterwards, critics, and Spielberg himself, were rather discontent with this version, and thought the ship's interior should be kept a secret. This is why he created a final version for the video-release in 1998, the Director's Cut. There, he removed the extended finale again, but put back some of the removed scene from the theatrical version. Effect-improvements or even George Lucas-style integrated effects are luckily left out of both alternative versions.
Spielberg said, that the Director's Cut now really was the final version of his film and that there won't be another.

The film was released on DVD and Blu-Ray a.o. as the Ultimate Edition with all the three versions on occasion of the 30th anniversary, with which this report was made, too.

The versions:


Theatrical version

Compared to the other versions, the theatrical version seems a bit crazy and black-humorous in the middle part, due to the scenes in which Roy goes completely insane. He and his family are characterized enough even without the extended beginning that was implemented in the Special Edition. The scenes that are still contained in this version, like the one that shows Row arriving at work do not bother, but have their right to exist. In the finale, we don't see what happens to Roy after climbing into the spaceship, which leaves the audience's imagination total freedom.
Thus, the theatrical version is, in my opinion, still the best version and the most recommended one for first-time watchers.

Runtime 135 min.



Special Edition:

The Special Edition seems mostly a little more imposing because of the two new, big effect-scenes. It is shorter than the theatrical version, because many scenes - e.g. Roy at work - are missing, but doesn't neccessarily seem any quicker, because the other, new scenes slow the pacing down again. The family is introduced longer, which works very well. Though this version misses e.g. Roy's complete, insane material-acquisition, which makes the climax of his insanity be left out totally, it does have the almost substitutional scene in the bathroom, in which he despairs entirely. The scene is pretty dark, but doesn't change the tone of the film. So, the Special Edition seems a bit more depressive in the middle part, but then gathers pacing just like the theatrical version.
The new scene in the Gobi desert is made wonderfully, but in the end unneccessary and does not fit quite right. The other, newly shot scene, the extended finale, gives some more answers now, but of course we still do not get total clarity. It is great to watch, but also steals a lot of the mystery you are left with from the theatrical version.
To me, the film is still a great story in the Special Edition, but in the least pretty depiction. Second-time viewers and fans can take a look at this in any case, but for the rest, I advise against.

Runtime 132 min.



Director's Cut:

As the name implies, the Director's cut is Spielbergs favored version, seems mostly like the theatrical version, even though it is almost a little darker than it. Here, there are now both scenes in the middle part, both Roy's shower-scene and his total freak-out, which brings across the insanity the most intense. There are no new scenes or anything like that. The removal of the extended ending and the reimplementation of the press conference as against the Special Edition stand out positively, and the scene in Gobi is contained here as well.
All in all the rule "less is more" takes effect here, at least in my opinion. Basically, this version is worthy of the theatrical version, only the desert-scene sticks out in an unpleasant way. I suppose, maybe a little boldly, that Spielberg thought so as well. Had he removed this scene from his final version now, too, then the Special Edition-reshoots would have been completely in vain.
Thus, the Director's Cut is a clear improvement of the Special Edition, does the original finale leave room for one's own imagination again. It seems the darkes in the middle part and basically offers the most scenes, which makes it interesting and worth watching, but despite all that, it is, in the end, not the perfect version of the film.

Runtime 137 min.


Here, the Special Edition (DVD/PG) has been compared to the Director's Cut (DVD/PG), both contained in the 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition:
25:08-25:10 (Timecode Special Edition)
25:07 (Timecode Director's Cut)

In the Special Edition a short scene of the ships flying over the street.

The orange ship glows and takes a short look at the Burger King/McDonald's-sign.

Special Edition: 0:02 min.



39:29-39:38 (Timecode Special Edition)
39:27 (Timecode Director's Cut)

The conference in the Special Edition is a little longer here.

We see the attendants sitting up and applauding after the demonstration of the sounds.
Lacombe is visibly happy.

Special Edition: 0:09 min.



52:54 (Timecode Special Edition)
52:45-56:25 (Timecode Director's Cut)

After Billy's abduction, the complete press conference with the initial arrival of Jillian is missing in the Special Edition.

There is a big press furore in the US Air Force's lobby. We see a woman sitting at the reception.
Jillian arrives and tries to make way through the reporters; Roy and Ronnie are already there:

Roy: "Jillian! Jillian!"
Reporter 1: "May we have a statement, please? The report you gave to the police was quite spectacular! We need it for the 6:00 news."
Roy: "Jillian."
*Jillian looks to Roy*
Jillian: "They got him."
Roy: "What?"
*she moves on, the reporters follow her*
Reporterin: "Is it true you're leaving the state to look for your son?"
[wild talking of all the reporters]
Jillian: "HIS name is Barry!"
*cut to Roy, who looks at her worriedly, cut to Ronnie; then again cut to Jillian*
[still talking of the reporters]
Reporter 2: "Are you involved in any kind of parapsychologies?"
Reporter 3: "Turn around, please! Turn around!"
Reporter 2: "You gave the police a report. Would you mind repeating it for the television?"
Receptionist: "Folks, you can go in now! Room 3655."

Cut to the room of the press conference; Major Benchley is on screen:

Benchley: "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a flying saucer."
*he holds up a picture that seems to show a UFO, the attendants are starting to talk wildly, one of them says "That's the one I saw!"*
Benchley: "It's made of pewter, made in Japan, and thrown across the lawn by one of my children."
*more talking*
Benchley: "I just wanted to point that out to get sure we're not all "polished brass" about these things. And also to make a point that last year Americans shot more than seven billion photographs at a record of §6.6 billion for film equipment and processing. Now with all those shutters clicking, where is the indisputable photographic evidence?"
*Roy wants to say something, but is interrupted*
Reporter: "Major Benchley.. I've been in the news business for a long time, and our cameras have never been able to take a picture of a plane crash as it actually happened or an automobil accident and get it on the 6:00 news."
Roy: "That's right! That's right.."
*the attendants are starting to discuss again, some agree*

The man next to Major Benchley starts moving his head towards the microphone:

Man: "Now there are all kinds of ideas that would be fun to believe in. Mental telepathy, time travel, immortality, even Santa Claus. *Shot of Roy* Now I know it's not fun to go home and say, "Guess what happened today. I was in the shopping centre, and there was this tremendiously bright light, and I rushed outside, and it was an aeroplane."
Roy: "Excuse me, Sir. I didn't want to see this."
Man: "I sure wish I had. You know, for 15 years I've been looking for this damn silly lights in the night sky. I've never found any. I'd like to, because I believe in life elsewhere."
Attendant: "Why don't you guys just admit that the Air Force is conducting secret tests in the Foothills area?"
Man: "It would be easy to say 'yes' to that - but I'm not going to mislead you, this is not the case. To tell you the truth, I don't know what you saw."
Roy: "You can't fool us by agreeing with us." *the attendants start laughing* "No, no, no, no, come on, come on."

The observer from last night, who made the remark and now also sits at the table, starts talking:

Beobachter: "I saw Bigfoot once." *the reporters point the cameras at him, he gets up* "1951. Back in Sequoia National Park. Had a foot on her, 37 inches. Heel to toe."
*he pushes two ashtrays on the table to show the length; attending children are amazed*
Beobachter: "Made a sound I would not want to hear twice in my life."
*camera shows Roy and Ronnie, he holds his hand before his face; the attendants are starting to talk wildly; observer sits down again, a little proud and smirking; shot of Roy*
Anwesender 2: "I believe I've encountered that gentleman myself."
Anwesender 3: "I was sitting on the porch one year, seeing through the screen. I seen this big white dot in the sky. Then it turned to red, blue, and green."
*cut to the newspaper in front of Roy; he starts drawing the shape; the attendants continue talking*
Man: "UFOs do not represent a direct physical threat to our national security. We do not support them, and we encourage you not to."
*Roy draws so hard the pencil breaks*

Director's Cut: 3:40 min.



1:03:46 (Timecode Special Edition)
1:07:15-1:10:48 (Timecode Director's Cut)

Now, the Special Edition misses the entire scene of Roy going crazy, after he destroyed his clay shape.

Ronnie, Brad and Toby are lying in the room and sleep. They wake up as Ronny starts ripping out plants outside in front of the window:

Ronnie: "Roy? I'm sorry about last night. ..Roy! Roy? Roy, what are you doing? ..Jesus."
*she gets up and runs out of the room; Cut to the next room; Ronnie comes running to Sheryl, who is standing at the window; Roy is frantically ripping out more plants*
Ronnie: "Roy! Roy!" *she knocks at the window* "The plants are fine there! ..Roy, can you hear me?!"
*Roy continues walking outside, Ronnie follows him on the inside to the other window*
Ronnie: " Wait! ..Wait, what are you doing?!"
Roy: "You're gonna love it, Ronnie!"
Ronnie: "What do you mean?!"
Roy: "You'll really love this!"
Ronnie: "Roy, wha-what are you doing?"
*Roy moves on, Ronnie runs to the next window; she looks outside*
Ronnie: "Oh.. OH ROY!"
*a plant with root and soil crashes through the window, Ronnie dodges*
Ronnie: "My god!"

Cut outside, Roy is standing in front of the window and shovels soil from a pushcar into the house.
Brad and Toby are standing next to him:

Roy: "Come on, men!"
Toby: "Dad, after this, can we throw dirt in MY window?"
*Ronnie joins*
Ronnie: "Stop it. ..Stop. Stop it."
Roy: "Ronnie - if I don't do this, that's when I'm gonna need a doctor." *he throws a brick through the window and runs away*

Cut to a window of the next house, which opens. Mrs. Harris, who is blow-drying her hair, takes a look outisde. Roy then runs to a pile of bricks, Ronnie, Brad and Toby are going after him:

Ronnie: "..you doing. What are you doing?"
Roy: "I got it! ..I, I figured it out, that's all! Will you just listen?"
Ronnie: "No!"
Roy: "Ronnie, look: you ever look at something when it's crazy, and then you look at it in another way and it's not crazy at all?"
Ronnie: "No, I haven't, no!"
Roy: "Come on, Ronnie! Just listen!"
Ronnie: "I don't know what you're doing."
Roy: "If you just close your eyes.. Close your eyes and hold your breath, everything will be real pretty."
*he picked some bricks from the pile and goes away with those; Toby also picks up one*
Ronnie: "Roy? You're scaring us now!"
Roy: "Don't be scared! Just don't be scared, I feel really good! Everything's gonna be alright! I haven't felt this good in years!"
*He is back at the window and throws the bricks inside; Ronnie, Brad and Toby have walked after him*
Roy: "Everythings gonna be okay. I feel it."
*quick cut to the sink, where the bricks land*
Roy: "Now what else? What else?"
*he looks around; Toby throws his brick through the window as well*
Toby: "Like this, like this?"
Roy: "Right."

Cut to blow-drying Mrs. Harris again, then shortly to Roy, and then to an approaching and stopping garbage truck.
A garbage man gets off and wants to take the garbage can, Roy takes it away from him, though, and empties it. At that, he goes away with the can; Cut to Ronnie, who is warily looking into the sky.
Roy pushes the garbage can through the window. He then looks around again and seems to discover something.

Roy: "Chicken wire."


He goes to the neighbor's garden's geese-compound, and starts to rip out and roll in the fence. Cut to Mrs Harris' room, going to the other window and looking to Roy:

Mrs. Harris: "Whatever you're doing, it's against the law!"
*Brad and Ronnie with Sylvia in her arms are coming*
Ronnie: "He's putting it back, Mrs. Harris!"
*Roy sprints towards Mrs. Harris with the fence in his hand*
Roy: "I'll pay you for this!"
*she suddenly blow-dries threateningly in his direction*
Mrs. Harris: "Take it. Take it."
Roy: "I'm perfectly fine."
*he goes away again; Ronnie tries to stop Toby from carring the fence*
Ronnie: "Let go of this fence right now. You come with me. Do you want me to hit you? You let go of that fence!"
*Roy wirft die Drähte weg und geht auf die noch stehenden hinzu
Roy throws away the wire and goes to the ones that are still standing*
Ronnie: "Toby! Listen to me. Listen to me. ..Right now, we're going."
Toby: "[indistinguishable]"
Ronnie: "Let go off the fence! Come on."
*two children come running and are watching; Roy continues ripping fences out of the ground;
Shot of Brad; Roy runs away with the wire, the geese follow him; Ronnie tries to chase them back*
Ronnie: "Stay! Stay."
*interior-view of the Neary's house; more plants are flying in through the window.*

Director's Cut: 3:33 min.



The versions are in sync again as Ronnie leaves the house with the children.

1:04:45 (Timecode Special Edition)
1:11:46-1:12:39 (Timecode Director's Cut)

This makes the end of the scene of Ronnie having driven away with the children is missing.

Roy shakes off his hands, gets up and steps back to the house. The people continue watching him; he looks to a neighbor:

Roy: "Morning."

He continues going to the window, throws in a plant, and looks to Mrs. Harris. She tries to chase together the geese, the two children are standing at the side and look at him. Finally, Roy climbs into the window, we can hear something crash shortly after. He then takes a quick look outside, gets in the ladder, changes clothes, and bangs the window shut.

Director's Cut: 0:53 min.



1:58:09-2:00:56 (Timecode Special Edition)
2:06:04 (Timecode Director's Cut)

After Roy steps on the entering-plate, the Special Edition now shows the big scene in the space ship's interior.

Roy walks through the space ship. He looks around happily. He steps a round room with lights that point upwards.At that, the ceiling comes loose and lifts, which makes way for the space ship's upper places. Some sort of orange honeycomb starts closing with hatches on the sides. Just before it is shut, some ships are flying inside, just like the little red straggler-light.
Roy watches gleefully. A big wall is shown, with dozens of square windows at which are many little, dark creatures standing and appear to be watching.
Finally, a rain of bright, colorful lights comes shooting out of the honeycomb at the ceiling.

Special Edition: 2:47 min.



The Director's Cut continues with the shot of Lacombe, Laughlin and co.


Credits:

The music is different after the ship has disappeared.

There is more upbeat music in the Special Edition, the Director's Cut features dark, serious music.




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