Released in 1977, Close Encounters of the Third Kind was that year's cerebral alternative to Star Wars. It's arguably the archetypal Spielberg film, featuring a fantasy-meets-reality storyline (to be developed further in E.T.), a misunderstood Everyman character (Richard Dreyfuss), apparently hostile government agents (long before The X-Files), a sense of childlike awe in the face of the otherworldly, and a sweeping feel for epic film-making learned from the classic school of David Lean. Contributing to the film's overall success are the Oscar-winning cinematography from Vilmos Zsigmond, Douglas Trumbull's lavish effects and an extraordinary score from John Williams that develops from eerie atonality ?a Ligeti to the gorgeous sentiment of "When You Wish Upon a Star" over the end credits.
Not content with the final result, Spielberg tinkered with the editing and inserted some new scenes to make a "Special Edition" in 1980 which ran three minutes shorter than the original, then made further revisions to create a slightly longer "Collector's Edition" in 1998. This later version deletes the mothership interior scenes that were inserted in the "Special Edition" and restores the original ending.
On the DVD: CE3K is packaged here with confusing documentation that fails to make clear any differences between earlier versions of the film and this "Collector's Edition"--worse, the back cover blurb misleadingly implies that this disc is the 1980 "Special Edition" edit. It is not. A gorgeous anamorphic widescreen print of Spielberg's 1998 "Collector's Edition" edit occupies the first disc: this is the version with the original theatrical ending restored but new scenes from the "Special Edition" retained.
The second disc rounds up sundry deleted scenes that were either dropped from the original version or never made it into the film at all--fans of the "Special Edition" can find the mothership interior sequence here. The excellent "making-of" documentary dates from 1997 and has interviews with almost everyone involved, including the director speaking from the set of Saving Private Ryan.
DVD Special Features
Widescreen "Collector's Edition" version
1977 "Watch the Skies" featurette
Making of Documentary
14 Deleted Scenes
Original Theatrical Preview Trailer
Special Edition Trailer
2.35:1 ratio enhanced for 16:9 widescreen TVs
Subtitles: English, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hindi, Hebrew, Dutch, Bulgarian, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian, Arabic, Polish