on November 15, 2007
Now this is the way it should be. You get all three cuts, all remastered in 5.1 surround and all have been digitally transferred. Thank you so much Mr. Spielberg because this without a doubt has to be one of your best (along with the original ET).
Last night, I watched the original theatrical version and forgot how much was removed for the "Special Editions" and the final "Director's Cut". In my mind, the original version is the best and to finally have it in all it's uncut 5.1 surround sound (which didn't exist back then) glory is simply wonderful.
The packaging is nice, although I found it very difficult to remove the DVDs without fearing I might snap them because the locking mechanism seems to not want to let go of the DVDs no matter how hard I press down on them. I suppose I could look at it in that I shouldn't fear them coming off during shipping and getting scratched up.
The box is nicely designed and inside are some wonderful items. It comes with a poster that gives a time line for each movie and where each cut differs which I found really interesting. It also comes with a book full of bios on the actors and other people that worked on the film. Plenty of in-movie and behind-the-scene shots. Finally, the three DVDs are housed in a tri-fold container. Inside and outside are colorful shots from the movies and it really makes the entire set look nice.
In addition to the three editions of the movies, there is also a new "30 Years" documentary looking back over time at how CE has been a favorite movie that has stood the test of time. Also, the making-of documentary that was on the original Director's Edition that came out a few years ago has been split across the three DVDs. Also included is the 1977 making of documentary which was also on the previously released Director's Cut DVD.
Missing are all the "deleted" scenes that were included on the Director's Cut. So, if you own that one, it might be best to keep it since they are absent from this edition.
Overall, this is an excellent release and no one should be without it. To finally watch it like I did when it first came out back in 1977 (and I lived in Muncie, Indiana at that time so you can just imagine what the crowd did when that came up during the movie) was so refreshing and wonderful that I can't wait to watch it again!
on November 24, 2007
I bought a Blu ray player a few months ago. At 39 years old I was really hoping to see some of my favorite movies in this new HD format. Some movies seem to really benefit from this format (Kubrick's re-releases, Fifth Element, etc.). And some movies don't seem to take full advantage of the HD format.
So it is with great pleasure that I say that this edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind is quite simply "amazing!" Yes, the film is 30 years old. And some grain is to be expected. But wow, what a transfer! The colors pop off the screen. The contrast is nice and sharp, but not in a bad way. The dark scenes are virtually flawless. The color tones and overall look of the entire film is breahtaking. The audio easily makes this a reference Blu Ray disc and will really test your system.
I'm not sure how much of the look of this film is due to the recent digital remastering and how much is simply due to the HD format, but the end result is enough to give you goose bumps.
The movie may be 30 years old, but this transfer makes it look as though it was released this year.
Worth noting is, thanks to the Blu Ray format, this release is just two discs (not 3 discs as in the standard def format). All three versions of the film (original Theatrical release, Special Edition release, and the edition for this set, Director's Cut) are ALL on the first disc. Disc two contains all the special features. And there's hours of non-filler, must-watch stuff on this disc too. A 2007 interview with Spielberg and cast talking about the versions, an almost 2-hour documentary from Collector's Edition release, 42 minute "Making of" documentary. After watching all the special features I want to go back and watch the film again.
The Director's Cut seems to be the one to watch since it is Speilberg's idea of the how the movie should look. Worth noting is the deirector's cut of the movie removes the scene inside the mother ship. Wich Speilberg admits in the special features was a compromise with the studio to fund a few extra scenes for the Special Edition. (The "Director's Cut" is a combination and re-cut of the original release and the special edition.)
In colclusion, a fantastic release that seems to embrace the benefits that the Blu Ray format offers. A stunning and breathtaking transfer of an already great movie. The transfer is so good that you'll feel like you're watching it for the first time all over again. I suspect this release will be in most Blu Ray owner's libraries.
on April 4, 2014
I will not go into detail on how I feel about Steven Spielberg's wonderful science-fiction odyssey, probably one of the best movies ever made and a classic in the science-fiction genre, despite what the knucklehead academics say. Instead, I will address the minor controversy surrounding the Blu-Ray editions of the movie.
As everyone knows, there are two types of Blu-Ray editions of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". One is the 30th anniversary box set, which includes the three versions of the movie (Theatrical, Special Edition and Director's Cut) on one disc; a plethora of bonus features on the second; and a booklet (the 3-disc DVD version of the set contains one version on one disc each, a making-of documentary scattered on all the discs, and the rest of the bonus features on the director's cut disc). The other is the cheaper, newly released "Blu-Ray Essentials" version, which only contains the first disc of all the three versions but no booklet and zero bonus features (except for the Blu-Ray exclusive "A View from Above" feature, whose main purpose is to show viewers the difference between all three versions).
The reason I'm addressing this is because some Amazon.com reviewers (including myself) have expressed dismay over buying the wrong edition. Unlike these reviewers, I am not entirely angered by this since I already have the 30th anniversary edition on DVD and that I bought the "Essentials" version just to upgrade to Blu-Ray (it also helped that it was on sale for a meager $7). But I can understand the frustrations looming in the reviews section and I wish Amazon would have notified this and state the differences.
If you're going to upgrade to Blu-Ray and want to learn the history behind "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", it's highly recommended you buy the 30th Anniversary box set. However, if you just want to buy "Close Encounters" primarily for the picture and audio quality and have no care for the extras, the "Blu-Ray Essentials" version will serve you well. It also helps that it's much cheaper than the other set (at least, at this moment).
Either way, this movie is a dazzler on Blu-Ray. Columbia did a phenomenal job restoring "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" in its best condition. The picture quality is superb and the audio is dazzling, particularly on the surround sound speakers. Some reviewers complained about the existence of grain, but this movie was shot on celluloid, not digital photography, so, of course, the grain is inevitable. Even so, it shouldn't distract from the incredible experience you'll have while watching this terrific movie on Blu-Ray and with a big screen TV. When the alien mothership lands on the Devil's Tower in the movie's climax, you'll feel the experience like no other in the previous VHS and DVD versions.
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" belongs in every movie collection and now thanks to Blu-Ray, it looks and sounds better than ever. If you are hesitant to replace your DVD player with a Blu-Ray player, then this version of this film should force your hand.
on March 10, 2001
This two-disc set features a THX-certified 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer of Spielberg's (so far) favored cut of the film (the third!), dubbed the "Collector's Edition" after its 1998 release on VHS and laserdisc, and runs 137 minutes. The anamorphic transfer is minted from a hi-def transfer created at Sony's DVD center in Culver City, California and cleaned up for this release. The disc features both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks, the 102-minute "The Making Of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind" documentary by Laurent Bouzereau created for the 1998 laserdisc, a collection of additional deleted scenes, a featurette on the film's enduring place in the sci-fi film pantheon entitled "Watch The Skies" (which, coincidentally, was the original working title for Spielberg's opus), talent files, and two theatrical trailers. Note that the still gallery on the laserdisc will not be carried over to the DVD. The set also comes packaged in Columbia's new "book-like" special edition casing with extensive production notes.
on March 8, 2011
Be warned...contrary to the text in the graphic of the packaging above, this is NOT a re-issue of the 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition. It only has 1 disc (not the 3 in the 30th Anniversary Edition). The disc is actually labled 'Disc 1' and it looks like they simply inlcluded Disk 1 of the previous versions.
The disc does contain all three versions of the movie (Orginal, Directors and Extended cut) and you can watch it an option where it will display text to tell you the differences in each version, but that's it. None of the other special features, extras and documentaries are included from previous versions. Hopefully, Amazon will update the image/packaging photo. Reading the cuatomer reviews was not helpful either as they all referred to prior 'Ultimate/Anniversary' and other previous editions, as no one had yet reviewed this new 'Blu Ray Eseentials' re-release (a version which is oddly not available at the other major retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc.)
There are no formal reviews of this 're-issue' out yet and the few sites where I did find any information, they were all completely wrong as it had the same incorrect packaging/slipcase image and said it included all the special features from the previous versions.
If you don't already own a previous Blu-Ray version and all you want are the three versions of the movie on one Blu-Ray disc, then this version maybe for you, but you can spend $5.00 less (at of 3/11/11) and get the 3-Disk 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition, with all the Special Features included. I sent this one back and I will be buying the Ultimate Edition and save 5 bucks.
This is one of my favorite movies of all time and watching it now still sends chills up my spine, just like it did when I saw it orignally in the movie theater when I was 10 years old. You need this movie in your collection, regardless, but do not buy this overpriced bare-bones edition.
on September 4, 2003
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Spielberg's 1977 UFO classic, is the thematic antitheses to 1996's Independence Day. While Roland Emmerich's ID4 is a throwback to 1950s "invaders from space" flicks, Spielberg's vision of a "close encounter" between humanity and extraterrestrials is more mysterious and, in the end, more hopeful and awe-inspiring. Instead of exchanging bullets and "heat rays," humans and aliens communicate by using musical notes.
Spielberg's screenplay divides Close Encounters roughly into three acts, basically corresponding to each of the three kinds of "encounters."
In the first category, sightings of a UFO, we first see a very strange sight in the Mexican desert: an international team of researchers led by French UFO expert Lacombe (the late Francois Truffaut) and guided by several Mexican Federales finds five World War II vintage Grumman TBM Avengers. The planes are abandoned but strangely intact, as though they were brand new. "Who flies this kind of plane?" asks a bewildered cartographer/interpreter named Laughlin (Bob Balaban).
"No one," replies another astonished researcher. "This is Flight 19."
(Flight 19, of course, is a reference to a Navy training flight which took off from Ft. Lauderdale one morning in December 1945 and vanished, along with a Martin Mariner search plane sent up to look for the missing planes and crews. Flight 19 is now famous in the lore of unsolved mysteries related to the Bermuda triangle.)
Laughlin is baffled by something else, as well. A Mexican villager, old, sunburned, and seemingly delirious, keeps repeating, "El sol salio anoche y me canto. El sol salio anoche y me canto." When Laughlin asks what the phrase mean, a researcher who is fluent in Spanish says, in an awed tone, "He says the sun came out last night. He says it sang to him."
Later, in the Indianapolis Air Traffic Control Center, a more dramatic close encounter of the first kind plays out on the radar scopes as airliner pilots call in reports of bright lights in the sky and unknown contacts make their presence known. For a few tense minutes it look as though tragedy is imminent, but within moments the contacts vanish into the night sky. Torn between reporting a UFO sighting or just letting the incident slide by, pilots and air traffic controllers alike opt to keep quiet, mainly to avoid having to fill out tons of bureaucratic paperwork.
As important as these sequences are, the focus of Spielberg's story is on Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), an employee of a Midwestern power company whose life on Earth is ordinary, hectic, and somewhat unfulfilling. Sent out to investigate a section of power lines in rural Indiana (caused, of course, by the UFOs' passage), Neary has a close encounter of the first kind and impulsively goes on a truck-borne pursuit of two small "flying saucers." This sequence, which ends with a Keystone Kops-like police chase of the same UFOs, triggers an obsession within Neary that neither his wife Ronnie (Teri Garr) nor his children will understand, much less accept. Neary, along with several hundred other people from different towns and states, will soon be haunted by both a visual image and a simple five-note musical phrase. The traces of the UFO flights that leave traces behind (sunburn on people who, like Neary, were exposed to bright light at night) are known as close encounters of the second kind.
Spielberg weaves Neary's everyman-faces-an-extraordinary- situation plot with the official investigations being carried out by the UN-sponsored Lacombe team and a more secretive U.S. government First Contact program. These plot threads will all lead to a climactic and awe-inspiring close encounter of the third kind: actual (and documented) contact between humanity and another space-faring civilization.
The Columbia/Tri-Star Collector's Edition brings not only a newly re-edited version (trimming some excess material from the 1980 Special Edition) of the 1977 film, but also comes with a second disc loaded with extras such as a Laurent Bouzereau documentary on the making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a 1977 promotional featurette, and the theatrical trailers.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind remains at the top of my list of my all time favorite movies. It has invoked a sense of wonder that no movie has ever come close to. And now that we have the 30th anniversary edition on DVD, we finally get to experience the movie in the original release as well as the two other cuts.
The movie involves the government searching for UFO evidence and the everyday people who see the UFO's who didn't go seeking them. While the government searches merely on scientific facts to make contact, the "everyman" characters develop an artistic talent either through art or music to lead them to contact. Those two sides finally clash before both making contact and realizing how they came together and how they were all "invited" to make contact.
I think what makes this movie so special for me is how little you see of the UFO's during the entire movie and how it affects the characters throughout the film. Then we are rewarded with the best final 20 minutes of any film made since. And the music...not just the "5 notes" but the entire soundtrack by John Williams is so haunting and is a character in itself.
Having the original edition again is a thrill and I believe I have to give it the edge, though the "Director's Cut" is a very close second. The Director's Cut has the better Neary introduction but everything else I like better in the original cut. Don't ask me why, but the pillow scene was always a haunting scene and I liked it. And I like the order of the scenes between Roy and the government officials better. Though, as a whole, the director's cut isn't bad at all, I just like the original. When I was younger, I was thrilled to hear about the Special Edition to see "inside the mothership." And as a kid, I loved those scenes but was so unhappy that the building of Roy's Devil's Tower was left out and as a result, it ruined the movie for me. Now, I am glad the mothership inside scene was removed from the Director's Cut as it does take away the sense of wonder if what it would be like from our minds.
Close Encounters has stood the test of time and it is a film that always will and could never be remade.
on June 13, 2002
I would really rate this as 3.5 stars but not 4, so I'm forced to give it a 3.
First off, the movie overall is excellent. Heck, I was 11 years old when this came out and I LIVED in Muncie, Indiana when it was released. The theater went nuts when the subtitle came on, saying "Muncie, IN", and then seeing Roy wearing a Ball State University shirt, well that just got the crowd in the theatre all worked up. We loved it!
I saw the "Special Edition" on VHS when it came out. I was a little diasppointed at the time when the scene with Roy tearing up his lawn was removed from that edition.
However, I wasn't as disappointed with that version as I am with this. Many of the scenes from the 1st SE have been moved off to the second DVD as deleted scenes. A bad choice in my opinion. However, those scenes that were missing in the SE from the original release are back in with some other new scenes plonked in as well. Still, it's a disappointment with the other scenes missing.
But, the other features on the second DVD are great. But, I wish Columbia/TriStar would take notice of how James Cameron released T2 - The Ultimate Edition. In that release, you have the choice of 3 versions of the movie on the same DVD: The original theatrical release, the Special Edition which came out a few years later on VHS, and then a third version with more deleted scenes in addition to the SE version. I don't know why Columbia/TriStar/Spielberg couldn't have done the same for Close Encounters.
The picture itself is great and the sound is excellent. Much better than the original release back in 1977, but of course, technology for sound has improved vastly since then, so it's not a surprise. Still, it's amazing how the sound can make a difference in how a movie is presented.
To have this on DVD is a must. Now, if Spielberg would release the Indiana Jones movies and Lucas would release the 2nd trilogy of Star Wars as well on DVD, my sci-fi/action DVD collection would be almost complete.
on November 18, 2007
OK, here's a review of the DVD itself. (5 stars because the studio finally has released all 3 cuts of the film) There's never enough info out there on the DVD content alone, but there are hundreds of people's reviews and opinions of the movie. Suffice it to say I love the film, always have; simply one of Spielberg's best films ever. And to now have the actual 1977 cut of the film on DVD is a huge payoff for fans of this modern classic film.
OK, this standard DVD release is on 3 discs. The 1977 Original Theatrical Version on disc 1; the 1980 Special Edition on disc 2; and the 1998 Collector's Edition (aka The Director's Cut) on disc 3. The studio split the 101 minute 36 sec "making of" documentary directed by Laurent Bouzerau into 3 parts, one part on each disc. Not very convenient but at least its the same documentary, same length, as was on the 1998/2001 "Collector's Edition" DVD. The two trailers from that earlier release are here although the 1977 trailer here is called Original Theatrical Preview and is 1:20 longer (for this one they add 1:20 footage up front from the air traffic controllers scene; almost sounds as if the narrator is different, see what you think). The Special Edition trailer is the same as on the Collector's Edition DVD. The 1977 "Watch the Skies" featurette has also been released here on the 30th Anniversary Edition as well. What's totally new here is a newly-filmed conversation with Spielberg called "Steven Spielberg: 30 Years of Close Encounters" running 21:21; and a 2 minute 30th Anniversary release trailer. One of the coolest things of all is a 14"x21" glossy poster with a complete guide to the 3 versions (edits) of the film indicating which scenes are unique to each version and which scenes were trimmed, added, excised, etc. laid out in a "timeline" (of the 2 hour+ running time) fashion. Finally CE3K fans can get straight which scenes were in which version after all these years! The reverse side of the poster is the 1977 movie poster. There is also a really nice booklet (lots of pages) with production stills and filmography information on Spielberg and the 4 main stars. The only thing not included here that was on the Collector's Edition DVD are the 11 deleted scenes totalling 24:17 - so between that release and this, you should have pretty much all you need! (The 1990 Criterion laserdisc material would be great to have as well, but it's not a perfect world - this set and the Collector's set together make this fan completely happy!)
- 1977 Original Theatrical Version (135 min)
- Making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind Part 1 (39:15)
- Original Theatrical Preview (6:02)
- 1980 Special Edition (132 min)
- Making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind Part 2 (47:30)
- Special Edition Trailer (1:58)
- 1998 Director's Cut [as it's called on the DVD menu; aka Collector's Edition] (137 min)
- Making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind Part 3 (15:29)
- Steven Spielberg: 30 Years of Close Encounters (21:21)
- Watch the Skies [1977 featurette] (5:55)
- 30th Anniversary Trailer (approx 2 mins)
on June 13, 2001
Like several other reviewers, I am something of a Close Encounters connoisseur, having viewed every different cut of this movie since the original 1977 release. My least favorite, by far, was the so-called "Special Edition" that was released in 1980 and for years was the only version available for home viewing. I always felt that the deletion of certain scenes from that version made the story difficult to follow and the flow of the movie somewhat choppy. The shot of Dreyfuss inside the Mother Ship killed much of the mystery and wonder that surrounded the ending in the original cut. When the movie was aired on network TV back in the early 80's, a complete version was shown, including all of the original '77 footage and the additional "Special Edition" scenes edited together. With the exception of the scene inside the spacecraft, this version would have to be my favorite. As a fan, I feel like I'm getting the complete Close Encounters experience when I watch this cut of the film. In every other version, somehow I feel cheated when a scene, or even a quick camera shot, is missing. In 1990, Criterion released a laser disc version of this film that included all the footage. My hope was that the "Collector's Edition," as this DVD edition is called, would also include the "complete" film. While the Collector's Edition is a vast improvement over the Special Edition, I still find myself wishing that a few extra scenes could have been included in the main feature. I always felt that the scene showing Neary at the power plant was necessary to explain to the viewer why he's out in the middle of nowhere looking for downed power lines. This is on Disc 2 as a deleted scene, but without this short scene included in the main feature it requires the viewer to make an a cognitive jump in regard to the story-line, and is actually quite confusing to the first-time viewer. Another deletion (that's not included on Disc 2) is where Neary "sees" the mysterious shape in a pillow at home. Later in the film he refers to this previous vision, but since the scene referred to has been deleted in this version, it doesn't have the full impact on the viewer that it could. There's a few other minor exclusions that die-hard fans will wish were on there. Fortunately, Spielberg deceided NOT to include the interior shot of the spacecraft in the main feature, so the mystery remains (not to mention the end of the film flows a lot better without this additional scene, in my opinion). I still feel the Criterion release on laser disc is superior, at least from a content perspective. You had the option of watching the original '77 cut that was released in theaters, the 1980 "Special Edition," or a complete cut of the movie with all scenes, all depending on how you programmed your laser disc player. Perhaps Criterion will see fit to re-release this movie on DVD using the same format as their previous laser disc set.
In conclusion, I feel this cut (the "Collector's Edition") is excellent, the transfer seems good, and the documantary and extras on Disc 2 are a real treat. Nevertheless, truly die-hard fans will find themselves wanting a slightly more complete cut of the film.