Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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The Doctor is back again—in stereo! This time, he’s hosting me for a look at Steven Spielberg’s incredible 1977 masterpiece Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We don’t have a cross word to say about the film except perhaps that the aliens seems to act more like raccoons than visitors from another planet.

The Doctor and I converse on the UFO phenomenon of the 1970s, Indiana geography, alien biology, Richard Dreyfuss’ insanity, and Steven Spielberg’s belief that aliens and angels are the same thing. We discuss the film as a character piece, as a horror movie with no horror, and as a treatise on communication in general. We discuss the possibility that the aliens are a rock band. And we imagine Lance “Itchy Trigger Finger” Henriksen having a flash-forward to his other films and shooting up the aliens.

I forget to make a joke about the Harper Valley PTA (that’s where Dreyfuss is driving when he has his initial encounter). And we forget to mention that this is the first of our five collaborations where none of the main characters is liquored up a good part of the time.

This commentary was done with the region 2 DVD of the Collector’s Edition. The newer Blu-ray has a couple of extra scenes, particularly one with Carl Weathers as a soldier in the Wyoming evacuation scene. To watch it with a region 1 DVD, you’ll need to slow it down about 4% (View > Enhancements > Play Speed Settings in Windows Media Player) or else fast forward the movie from time to time.

Start the movie with the countdown as the Columbia logo fades up.

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