Close Encounters of the Third Kind (30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition)
30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition, Ultimate Edition
DVD | Box Set
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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
Steven Spielberg 30 Years of Close Encounters
Close Encounters of the Third Kind Making of Documentary
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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.
I have always been impressed with the actors and actresses who gave life to the characters in the movie. The one that has always impressed me is the character "Barry" (played fantastically by Cary Guffey!); that, and the way writer/director Steven Spielberg was able to get the responses needed from Cary. I know, from reading on the web, that Mr. Guffey doesn't want to be remembered only for his role in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"; this, I can understand. I have to say, though, that he did a hell of a job!
The story itself, is interesting and inspiring; the music enchanting and moving, and the locations were impressive. And, now, I can enjoy it whenever I choose! For those of you who loved this movie, I probably haven't said enough. For those who hated it, no words of mine can ever change your opinion.
I, however, will be most happy with this purchase!
I like Spielberg's third Director's Cut the best, except that it excludes Roy at the power station in the beginning which was shown in the 1977 original theatrical release version. This scene was important, to show why Roy chooses not to show up for that job anymore after his initial UFO sighting (the job was thankless and his bosses were real A-holes).
Flip-flopped in the Special Edition and Director's Cut are the night sighting picnic with the India "Where did these sounds come from?" segments, which, I think, flow better in the order they were presented in the 1977 version. The cut between the night sighting picnic that turns out to be noisy helicopters and the subsequent dead-quiet of the observation station is more jarring in the latter two versions than in the 1977 version, where the noisy helicopter's search light on Roy cuts to the cars arriving in India in sunlight. But, in the grand scheme, of the timeline of chronologically telling the story, one can see why Spielberg flip-flopped the order of these two scenes.
The "pillow mountain bit" is happily removed from the latter two versions; never much cared for that.
Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed of Rocky fame) does a brief cameo in the 1977 version as an Army seargant who interrogates suspicious-looking Roy, who looks like a potential looter, during the evacuation sequence, when the bird salesman is doing a great scare job in the background. This bit, quirky but not really necessary, is happily removed from the latter two versions, and instead the scene hangs on the bird salesman saying "Even my dog has a gas mask! And any of you folks are worth more than a dog!" Funny.
The Roy in the bathtub fully-clothed sequence, which ends in a horrible screaming match that involves the whole Neary family, followed by the Roy yanking out the neighbor's chicken wire and throwing bricks and dirt into his kitchen window to build his ultimate Devil's Tower model next day, perfectly segues into Roy's wife, Ronnie, taking the kids and leaving for her sister's, for good, in the Director's Cut. In the 1977 cut, we don't know what the heck Ronnie is talking about when she says to Roy, in the morning, "I'm sorry about last night", and, in the 1980 Special Edition cut, the entire Roy throwing dirt into the house scene is excised, cutting from Roy realizing that Devil's Tower has a cut-off peak, to Ronnie taking the kids, which also doesn't make sense. I'm glad Spielberg finally got it right by including BOTH scenes in his Director's Cut.
This is one of the most AWESOME achievements in cinematic history, a triumph of human imagination, and a film that has a truly noble, altruistic agenda, in an era of otherwise formulaic "beastie" monster movies. It gets the awesome transfer, in all 3 versions, that it deserves. Spielberg's critics said "lightning can't strike twice" after the wunderkind young director struck a massive bolt with his last stroke of genius, Jaws. They were wrong!
This set has excellent behind-the-scenes extras, including the classic 1977 Watch the Skies featurette that was shown in cinemas (finally transferred here in HD!), a complete 1997 retrospective produced by Laurent Bouzereau, and some new interviews with Spielberg, also produced and directed by Bouzerau, that shed new "light" on the whole project. A must-have for any serious cinephile.
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