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Close Encounters of the Third Kind – The Special Edition

Entry updated 23 February 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1980). Credits as for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). 132 minutes. Colour.

This slightly shorter, re-edited version of Spielberg's huge 1977 success, which contains some new footage, represents a curious piece of cinematic history. Many critics saw it as inferior to the original, though the idea was that Spielberg now had so much commercial clout that he could, at last, release the film exactly as he had always wanted it. New material includes a scene where Neary, the UFO-obsessed power worker, makes his family hysterical; a surrealistic shot of an ocean liner left stranded by puckish Aliens in the Gobi Desert; and a sequence inside the mother Spaceship (so-so special effects) with an ill-judged soundtrack of "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Walt Disney's Pinocchio (1940). The new Neary sequences darken the film; the new ending, in contrast, lightens it by emphasizing its fairy-tale aspect. Whatever its technical strengths and weaknesses, the new version – which is the one now normally shown – made a lot of money. [PN]


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