Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Nashville Scene

DIRECTED BY: Steven Spielberg

REVIEWED: 08-03-98

Twenty years, one re-edit, and one way-overlong TV version later, Steven Spielberg is still tinkering with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Like a middle-age facelift, this "collector's edition" video release makes a few minor nips and tucks to pull the narrative more tightly across the whole, combining elements from the 1977 original version and the 1980 "special edition" that featured gratuitous FX from inside the Mothership. As you may recall, the story of Close Encounters is a fantasy of regression in which an overburdened family man (Richard Dreyfuss) catches the next spaceship off the planet, leaving his wife and kids to fend for themselves. Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls charges the auteur with similarly selfish behavior as regards the Close Encounters screenplay, for which he insisted on receiving sole credit even though he'd drawn liberally on the work of friends like Paul Schrader and Matthew Robbins. In any case, this "collector's edition" will probably go down in film history as the definitive one unless, like me, you think the movie works best in its original version, wherein the special effects of adult delinquency are left unknown.

--Rob Nelson

Other Films by Steven Spielberg
Columbo (tv)
Saving Private Ryan
The Lost World

Film Vault Suggested Links
Babylon 5 (tv)
The Day the Earth Stood Still

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