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The People Under the Stairs


The War of the Worlds

To Live and Die in L.A

The Last Starfighter


Close Encounters of the Third Kind

original title: Close Encounters of the Third Kind


  • Theatrical Version
  • Director's Cut
Release: Apr 02, 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:

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...


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 Theatrical Version (DVD/PG) has been compared to the Director's Cut (DVD/PG), both contained in the 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition:
14:07-14:33 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
14:07-16:35 (Timecode Director's Cut)

The introduction of the Nearys is different in the two versions, resp. it was extended in the Director's Cut.

The Director's Cut fades to a panorama-view at night of the city. A conversation between Roy and Brad in front of a railway model takes place now:

Brad: "Dad, do my problems for me."
Roy: "I don't have to do your problems for you. You do your problems for you. That's why I graduated, so I don't have to do problems."
Brad: "I don't understand these fractions."
Roy: "All right. What's one-third of 60?"
*Brad looks a little baffledly*
Brad: "That's a fraction, I don't understand them."
Roy: "All right, look." *he puts a wagon onto the rail* "Let's say, that this boxcar is 60 feet long. Okay?"
Brad: "Okay."
Roy: "And one-third is across this switch here." *He puts the wagon onto the rail* "All right? Okay?"
*Brad takes a look*
Roy: "And now another train is coming." *he has the train driving* "Now, how far you have to move this boxcar off the track so that the other train doesn't smash it? Quickly, Brad, there are thousands of lives at stake."
*Brad keeps looking*
Roy: "Brad, any answer."
*Brad laughs, the driving traing crashes into the other train*

Ronnie gets out of the chair with a newspaper in the hand:

Ronnie: "Honey.. Remember last weekend, you promised everybody a movie this weekend." *Roy does not react* "Honey?"
Brad: "And you also promised Goofy Golf!"
Roy: "Oh, yeah.."
*Ronnie goes to the table in the back and discovers the clay-figures that ly on it*
Ronnie: "Roy, what is all this stuff on my table? I thought I told you this was for my stuff this table! I mean, you can have that table. I don't want this stuff on my breakfast table. This can cause tetanus!" *she takes a closer look at it* "What is this?!"
Roy: "Hey, you know what's playing in town? Pinocchio! The kids have never seen Pinocchio! You guys have never seen Pinocchio! You'll love it."
*Brad moans*
Ronnie: "I don't believe this!" *she carries the clay figures from table to table*
Brad: "Who wants to go see some dumb cartoon rated G for kids?"
Roy: " old are you?
Brad: "Eight."
Roy: "You wanne be 9?"
Brad: "Yeah."
Roy: "Then you're gonna see Pinocchio tomorrow night."
Ronnie: "Roy, that is a wonderful way to win over your children."
Roy: "I'm not serious.. I'm just saying that I grew up with Pinocchio! And if kids are still kids, they're gonna eat it up!"
*Ronnie sits down again and does not look very excitedly*
Roy: "Okay. Okay, i'm wrong. I'm Wrong Roy, all right?"
*Son Toby keeps pointlessly hammering a handrail with a puppet*
Roy: "Toby! You are close to death! Come out here!"
*He comes to Roy, Ronnie looks worriedly*
Roy: "Okay, now, I'm gonna give you your choice. I'm not gonna be biased in any way - tomorrow night you can either play Goofy Golf, which means a lot of waiting and shoving and pushing, and probably getting a zero, or you can see Pinocchio which is a lot of furry animals and magic and you'll have a wonderful time. Okay? Now let's vote."
Toby and Brad: "Golf!"

Director's Cut: 2:38 min.

In the Theatrical Version, the scene starts with the fade to a toy-clown that plays music. It is standing on the table next to the railway model.
A train drives around but is stopped by an opened lift bridge. Roy looks a bit annoyedly.

Theatrical Version: 0:26 Min.

From the next shot of Ronnie in the chair on, both version run in sync again.

15:42-17:12 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
17:46 (Timecode Director's Cut)

The Director's Cut doesn't show Roy arriving at work before.

Red lights are blinking and we see Roy walking through the power plant. He comes to a room with many other technicians:

Technician 1: "Coxfold. Crystal Lake is dark."
Technician 3: "I understand the system's failing. What do you want me to do about it?"
Technician 2: "Let it all fail. Let it all fail, we'll pick up the pieces later after all it's fallen."
Technician 3: "Let's do things my way, alright? I got reports of vandalism on the line. I got eight 90-megawatt lines down all over."
Technician 1: "Crystal Lake is dark. ..Tolono is completely gone."
Technician 2: "It doesn't matter. It's down. It's down!"

Technician 2 looks disappointedly, technician 1 goes back in the room to Roy and some others at that:

Technician 2: "What's the normal tension for that area?"
Roy: "If there's no wind.. Normal tension for the sag is 15.000 pounds per wire. I was a journeyman in that are a few years back."
*Technician 3 joins*
Technician 3: "Good, an expert. ..How would you like the job?"
Technician 2: "You're kidding! Where's the seniority?"
Roy: "..Well, it's not up to me, where's the supervisor?"
Technician 3: "Supervisor's stuck in an elevator trying to run the show from one of the [unintelligible] trouble phones. But I'm in charge here right now, you're going to Crystal Lake."
Roy: "I am."
Technician 3: "I can't help it, everybody's everywhere. Now if you have any questions to ask, get on the horn to me, direct"
Technician 1: "We got a fresh impedance coming up. It's not an overload, it's a drain. Lines M-Mary-10 through M-Mary-15. Municipal Lighting is asking to be cut free."
Technician 3: "..Neary, you know where that is? Alright, you grab a splicing tool and a high-wire act. And Neary, don't get creative out there, just productive. Remember, he's counting on you, and I'm depending on you."
*Roy leaves, technician 3 looks to technician 1*
Technician 3: "You tell Municipal Lighting we're going to candle power in 10 minutes!"

Theatrical Version: 1:30 min.

22:29-22:35 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
23:03-23:09 (Timecode SE)

There is an alternative scene as Roy follows the big space ship. Since the Director's Cut starts later afterwards, though, there is no runtime difference.

In the Director's cut, Roy's car is driving across the street from a distance, while the space ship's giant shadow flys over him visibly.

Director's Cut: 0:06 min.

The Theatrical Version misses this, but the scene in which Roy drives through the tunnel starts earlier.

Theatrical Version: 0:06 min.

24:39-24:44 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
25:15 (Timecode Director's Cut)

After the "icecream cones" have passed, the Director's Cut misses an observer saying something.

Observer: "They can fly rings around the moon. But we're years ahead of them on the highway."

Theatrical Version: 0:05 min.

29:45 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
30:16-32:22 (Timecode Director's Cut)

After Roy's and Ronnie's kiss, the Director's cut shows one of the new big scenes from the Special Edition.

Some mongols are travelling through the sands of the Gobi desert with their camels as they seem to discover something. One of them happily lifts his weapon in the air.
At that, two UN-vehicles and helicopters are coming over the hills, passing the mongols. They are all pointing in one direction all the time.
Finally, the camera pans from a helicopter high above down and gives sight to a giant ship with the name "Cotopaxi" on the side, lying in the middle of the sand.

Mr. Laughlin and another UN-man are walking towards the ship:

Laughlin: "I don't believe it. I don't believe it." *he continues walking* "I don't believe it."
UN-man: "It's the Cotopaxi!"
Laughlin: "Why is it here?"
UN-man: "Beats the shit out of me!"

Another longshot of the ship with the camels and the UN next to it.

Director's Cut: 2:16 min.

33:14-33:57 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
35:53 (Timecode Director's Cut)

The Director's Cut misses the end of the scene after the quitting, and ends with the first shot of the children at the door.

In the Theatrical Version, Ronnie talks longer to Roy:

*Brad and Toby are standing at the door and listen*

Ronnie: "I mean I don't understand this, Roy. ..Roy."
*Roy lays down on the bed*
Ronnie: "What is happening here? We were up all night."
*Roy notices a pillow that lies there like the shape; music starts*
Ronnie: "I'm not getting a job, you know. I'm not getting a job. Forget it."
*Roy keeps looking at the pillow, the music is getting more and more intense, he reaches for the pillow*
Roy: "That's not right."

Theatrical Version: 0:43 min.

33:57 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
35:53 (Timecode Director's Cut)

After that, the Director's Cut continues with India right away, and the second, expected arrival was...

41:24 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
39:27 (Timecode Director's Cut)

... put here, after the conference.

56:54-57:31 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
58:49 (Timecode Director's Cut)

The beginning of the dinner with the potato mash was removed from the Theatrical Version.

Ronnie, Toby and Brad are sitting at the table, Sylvia is standing next to them. Ronnie gives out potato mash from the bowl:

Ronnie: "Toby!"
Toby: "I'm gonna hit you across the street, tomorrow night!"
*Toby and Brad talk promiscuously*
Ronnie: "Ride your bike.."
*they keep talking loudly*
Toby: "You are not!"
*Roy steps into the room*
Ronnie: "Boys. ..Toby. Did you finish your science project?"
*suddenly silence as they notice Roy; he sits down; Toby holds a napkin in front of his mouth*
Toby: "Baaaaah!"
Ronnie: "Toby?"
Sylvia: "I don't want any potatoes." *Ronnie puts potato mash on her dish*
Ronnie: "Yeah, just a little bit.. that's good."

Theatrical Version: 0:37 min.

The two versions run in sync again as Ronnie gives the keys to Toby.

1:01:11 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
1:02:29-1:05:07 (Timecode Director's Cut)

Another big scene in the Director's Cut.

Ronnie wakes up and hears the shower is on. She knocks at the door:

Ronnie: "Roy? ..Roy? Open the door, please. Please. Roy." *she tries to open the door by force* "Roy! Open this door! ..Open this door!"
*she goes to the dresser and looks for something, Sylvia steps out of her room, Ronnie finds a pair of scissors and breaks the door open with it; Roy is sitting in the bathtub with the shower on*
Roy: "I don't think I know what's happening to me." *he moans*
Ronnie: "Look, Roy. What it is, is family therapy. I mean, we all go. We all talk. No one is singled out. Maybe it's not your fault anyway!"
*Roy looks at his wristwatch*
Roy: "Oh, it's waterproof, it still works!"
Ronnie: "ROY! Promise me you will go! Please!"

Brad steps into the bathroom and starts continuously beating the door against the wall:

Brad: "You crybaby, you crybaby, you crybaby, you crybaby!.."
Ronnie: "Get out of here! Get out!"
Brad: " crybaby, you crybaby, you crybaby!.."
Roy: "Come on, you guys. Come on."
Brad: " crybaby, you crybaby, you crybaby, you crybaby!" *he runs away*
*Sylvia holds her ears*
Sylvia: "BE QUIEEET!"
Ronnie: "Stop it!"

Ronnie and Roy leave the bathroom:

Ronnie: "I don't understand it!"
Brad: "You crybaby!"
Roy: "Neither do I."
*Ronnie points at Brad*
Ronnie: "Get out! Go to your room, and close the door." *both children run away*
Roy: "Ronnie? ..Ronnie?"
Ronnie: "Yes."
Roy: "I'm really scared. I want you to help me."
Ronnie: "All this bullshit! It's turning this house upside down!"
Roy: "Ronnie, just.."
Ronnie: "I just hate you! That's why!"
Roy: "Ronnie, Ronnie. Ronnie."
Ronnie: "No!"
*he holds both her arms and tries to pull her to himself*
Roy: "Ronnie, just - hold it. Just put your arms around me. It'll really help me! It'll really help me."
Ronnie: "Listen, listen, listen! Don't you see what's happening? None of our friends call us anymore! You're out of work! You don't care! You're wrecking us, you're ruining us!"
Roy: "Ronnie, just hold on..!"
Ronnie: "No! ..No!"
Roy: "Hold on!"
*she runs into the bathroom and bangs the door behind her; Roy goes to the door*
Roy: "Ronnie? ..Ronnie? Ronnie. Come on."

Finally, we see Brad closing the door with tears in his eyes. Toby freaks out in the background.

Director's Cut: 2:38 min.

1:09:42-1:09:49 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
1:13:38 (Timecode Director's Cut)

The Theatrical Version shows another shot of Roy's view outside, this is missing in the Director's Cut.

Some children are playing Baseball, a house in the background. After that, Roy from outside, continuing to look out of the window.

Theatrical Version: 0:07 min.

1:13:35-1:13:41 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
1:17:25-1:17:37 (Timecode Director's Cut)

There are two alternative scenes here again, the vendor at the station is shown differently and a little longer.

In the Director's Cut, the vendor is standing in front of a pick-up with a dog on it, a bird's cage in his hand.

Vendor: "..and you'll be real disappointed and sorry if you don't have one of these an early-warning systems, such as a bird, a gas mask.. Why, even my dog has a gas mask. And any of you folks are worth more than a dog."

Director's Cut: 0:12 min.

In the Theatrical Version, the vendor only says shortly something about the gas.

Another, sideways view of the vendor, more people are standing around him and look at him.

Verkäufer: "Alright folks, I don't want to alarm you, but this genuine nerve gas is odourless and colourless."

Theatrical Version: 0:06 min.

The two versions run in sync again as Roy gets out.

1:13:51-1:15:09 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
1:17:47 (Timecode Director's Cut)

The Director's Cut misses the scene in which Roy talks to a border official.

Three men are riding over a wooden way. At that Roy, passing the vendor through the crowd:

Vendor: "So now I'm gonna tell you, these canary birds are guaranteed to fall off of their perch one hour before the gas does anything to you."

Roy moves on, more people in the background, UN-troops, a herd of sheep and horses. He bypasses a barrier and stands still. A radio can be heard:

Radio voice: "..last names beginning with the letter "K" to the letter "P" as in "Peter". All aboard please."

A border official goes to Roy.

Border official: "You got next-of-kin in the red zone, buddy?"
Roy: "Ehe, my sister!"
Border official: "What's her name?"
Roy: "..well, that's okay, she's probably out of there by now already." *he wants to go but the border official stops him*
Border official: "We got everybody out of here before noon yesterday. You tell me her name and I'll tell where she's relocated."
Roy: "That's okay, I can find her myself."
Border official: "Oh man, there's more than 20 evacuation stations across the state. What's your name?" *he laughs*
Roy: "Smith."
*two more border officials have joined in by now*
Border official: "Smith. ..we got orders to shoot anybody looting around here - Smith?"
Roy: "You don't think I am..." *he laughs*
Border official: "Pass it on, heh?"
*Roy goes away, the border officials are looking at him*

People are running past Roy's car; Roy approaches it with two gas masks and a bird cage in his hand. Suddenly you can hear someone shout in the frantic noise:

Jillian: "Roy!"

He looks in the direction, quickly opens the car door and throws the stuff inside.

Jillian: "Roy!"

He looks up shortly.

Theatrical Version: 1:18 min.

The two versions run in sync again as Roy goes up the path.

1:27:33-1:27:44 (Timecode Theatrical Version)
1:30:11 (Timecode Director's Cut)

The Director's cut misses a short scene of Roy, Jillian and another ally first freeing themselves out of the helicopter.

A man with gas mask and protective suit walks around the helicopter and closes the doors. Suddenly Roy pushes Andy out and follows. He pushes another gas-man away and takes Jillian's hand. The other passangers also try to free themselves but are being forced back by the gas-men.

Theatrical Version: 0:11 min.

The sequence is the same again as all three walk through the tons.