Steven Spielberg's classic film is back now on this never-before-released Ultimate Edition DVD, which includes all three versions of the sci-fi blockbuster. Richard Dreyfuss stars as cable worker Roy Neary, who along with several other stunned bystanders experience a close encounter of the first kind - witnessing UFOs soaring across the sky. After this life-changing event, the inexplicable vision of a strange, mountain-like formation haunts him. He becomes obsessed with discovering what it represents, much to the dismay of his wife and family. Meanwhile, bizarre occurrences are happening around the world. Government agents have close encounters of the second kind - discovering physical evidence of extraterrestrial visitors in the form of a lost fighter aircraft from World War II and a stranded military ship that disappeared decades earlier only to suddenly reappear in unusual places. Roy continues to chase his vision to a remote area where he and the agents follow the clues that have drawn them to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind - contact.
It's promised as the final word on the subject, and it certainly seems definitive. Steven Spielberg's wonderful Close Encounters of the Third Kind is here collected in three different cuts, each with its own specific history. There's the original theatrical release, never before issued to home video, which Spielberg said was rushed and not completed to his satisfaction. There's the 1980 Special Edition, which allowed Spielberg a re-edit, some new effects and scenes, and a controversial new ending that went inside the alien craft. Spielberg later said that ending was dictated by Columbia Pictures as a marketing ploy, and that he regretted showing the interior of the spacecraft. Amends were made with the 1998 Director's Cut, yet another re-edit that restored elements from the first version and eliminated the shots inside the Mother Ship. (For all the fuss, there are still fans who prefer the original version.) A thorough, previously-available 100-minute documentary on the film is included in the package, as well as a 5-minute featurette from 1977. New this time is a 20-minute interview with Spielberg, looking back from the perspective of 30 years. A 30th anniversary collector's booklet offers some pretty pictures but a rather desultory collection of mini-biographies and quotes (some credited to the "International Movie Database," by which they presumably mean the "Internet Movie Database"). Most helpful is a glossy fold-out timeline charting the differences between the three films, a useful tool for sticklers. --Robert Horton