Film Institute is currently showing the Director’s Cut of “Close Encounters of
the Third Kind” as part of its on-going celebration of Steven Spielberg’s
films. Here is the official press release:
Pictures Entertainment's Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Director's Cut) will receive an exclusive
extended run at BFI Southbank from 27 May, screening from a new 35mm print.
This special presentation will lead the BFI's two month season dedicated to
Steven Spielberg - a celebration of one of the most influential and successful
filmmakers in the history of cinema that will screen more than 30 of the
director's films throughout June and July.Combining elements of both the 1977 original
version and the 1980 Special Edition, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Director's Cut)
represents Steven Spielberg's definitive edit of his sci-fi masterpiece.
theatrical run of The Director's Cut from 35mm will form a fitting tribute to a
filmmaker now synonymous with the magic of film and the ritual of cinema-going;
returning his version of the story to its intended format and setting.
from a new 35mm print, Sony Pictures Entertainment's Close
Encounters of the Third Kind (Director's Cut) will receive an
exclusive extended run at BFI Southbank from 27 May.
Mark Mawston reflects on the personal impact the film had on him.
Of all of
Steven Spielberg’s classic films, probably the most truly magical, the one that
really lifts your spirits is Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Although this
is an incredibly important film, I consider it slightly down the pecking order
in the master’s great works although I, rather controversially I’m sure, would
always place it above Jaws in the auteur’s body of impressive films. The reason
is simple; whereas Jaws terrified me on my 10th birthday, Close Encounters
filled me with a sense of wonder. This
may have had something to do with the venue I first saw it in- The Queens in
Newcastle, which, when the film was released, was one of the few surviving
Cinerama theatres left. Its huge curved screen made any film shown seem like an
event but this one was simply made for it and had the most impact on me. I’ll
never forget the thrill of seeing twinkling stars begin to suddenly move from
the top left of the huge screen towards the events unfolding, especially in the
scene where the alien ships pay a visit to the remote farmhouse of the small
boy Barry and his terrified mother. The sheer impact that scene had on me will
never be forgotten and was one of the main reasons why I wanted to see this
film on the big screen again. I was not to be disappointed. I spotted many new
things that I’d missed when screening it on Blu-ray for my enraptured daughter and
from TV screenings and realised that the moving stars weren’t just limited to this
scene but appear specifically when Roy (Richard Dreyfuss- never better) is
sitting in his van at a remote crossing. It’s now easy to see so many things
that Spielberg drew upon, from shot for shot from North By Northwest to the
fact that When You Wish Upon a Star is playing when Barry’s toys “come alive”.
The one thing I hadn’t previously spotted that really stood out was that when
the alien visitor at the end of the film smiles after giving the famous hand gestures,
his smile and face are those of Barry’s. This is the kind of thing that you can
really notice on the big screen. Science fiction is the one of the genres most
suited to the big screen, with titles such as Blade Runner, Star Wars and 2001
made for this experience. However, it is Close Encounters that benefits from it most
and shows the sheer sense of scope that the young director brought to this
tale. Along with The Searchers, is there a more famous shot of a silhouette in
a doorway in movie history? To see this scene alone is worth the admission fee
and I urge you to see it on its BFI/Park Circus re-release. To paraphrase a
classic of the genre; For space, no one can beat a screen.
Spielberg always said that the added the
scene of the inside of the spaceship for the Special Edition of the film in
1980 was always a disappointment and I agree. What was on screen would always
pale in comparison to what you imagined and also took away for of the wonder. Spielberg
rightly exorcised this scene for this version of the film, which is easily the
best. This is still essential viewing to those who still watch the skies rather
than the “stars” of reality TV.