Written by / 9/14/2017 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

VIEWING TWO CUTS OF 'CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND'

Gobi Desert Sand Ship separates the Theatrical and Director's Cut
At this point, it seems any movie anticipating extra terrestrials will end badly. As in, violently. And not in the human's favor since most science-fiction aliens-on-Earth flicks are about a takeover...

And yet, Steven Spielberg directed CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND similar to how a disaster film builds to the flashpoint, along with particular scenes similar to the horror genre. Like when the "Spielberg Mom Character"... who are all always tough, independent yet sweet and vulnerable... and her little boy are visited noisily by determined, unseen aliens who make like Santa Clause by trying to sneak in through the...

Trading Card Pack w/ Famous Vanishing Point
Well you've probably seen the classic 1977 blockbuster, and it's worth revisiting whenever turning up on the big screen, like recently, during the 40th Anniversary. Although the version shown under big theater lights is Spielberg's Director Cut, which deletes one sequence and, a bit later on, adds another...

At Work before the Sighting
The latter giving the future billionaire and newly million dollar director who was not yet thirty-years-old a chance to pay homage to both his cinematic hero, David Lean, who made LAWRENCE OF ARABIA that inspired Steven's pal, John Milius, to create THE WIND AND THE LION, which has style and movement that would leapfrog over to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (i.e. Milius proved to Spielberg that it's possible to David Lean in the desert). Here, though, it's but a moment with a retrieved, supposedly sunken ship beached in the Gobi Desert while scattering people, from FBI agents to camel-riding locals, lead us and the camera to the amazing visual feast: Which doesn't last as long as when Richard Dreyfuss's character is introduced/established...

Close Encounters Trading card
In the Director's Cut we first see him teaching his oldest yet still young son how to do a math problem while an electric train rolls along before them.

A funny moment that isn't altogether necessary since dad will end up ditching his family for a journey into what could be endless outer space rollercoaster ride...

Instead, starting out with a more lonely, disassociated suburban dad starring wanly at the train until the audience, and the character, are domesticated by a surge of bickering kids and an impatient mother/wife: And also in the original theatrical cut that's not on the Director's Cut, Dreyfuss is in a power station that not only proves his job and skills, but will soon differentiate "their" power to ours. Once he's underway searching through a map before the first encounter along the dark road, it was nice to have seen him nervous and awkward at the starting gate.

Watching the Director's Cut on the Big Screen, shoes & all
One cut/deletion that makes a bit more sense has Carl Weathers as a soldier at a busy roadblock towards the end — a bit distracting given that, "It's Apollo Creed!" is bound to happen, silently or otherwise, in the theater. On the other hand, muscular Carl represents one reason not to try breaking through the boundaries....

Close Encounters Trading Card
And so, any version is worth the watch, but, along with the version that's now in theaters, why not see what initially spellbound audiences (we're intentionally leaving out the ripoff "Special Edition" from 1978, where audiences barely catch a glimpse into the mothership)...

In either it would've helped trimming like seven minutes from the end of act two, where Dreyfuss goes bonkers to make the Devils Tower with fences and dirt stolen from various neighbor's lawns...

Following melodrama where dad cries and makes his son weep along with him, our man's personal pandemonium is a bit much, really. But Dreyfuss was obviously playing Spielberg himself. Probably because this was written by the groundbreaking director who'd usually leave the writing to others and so CLOSE ENCOUNTERS — showcasing not only amazing special effects but car chases ala SUGARLAND EXPRESS, his first theatrical feature — is Spielberg's true labor-of-love that, while not nearly as great as his career-making JAWS, puts the artist in the forefront — with a style of direction that remains an influence to this day.
Richard Dreyfuss with a later deleted Carl Weathers at the foot of the climax
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