So I finally bought the Collectors Edition DVD of Close Encounters (not the version with the "inside the spaceship" rubbish bit). I've not watched it for at least 7 years and last night while sewing a pile of Fuzzbutt gear, I totally enjoyed every minute of it. It's soooo utterly Retro now that it's almost in fashion again. How fab was it to watch a UFO film that didn't involve cellphones, internet, virtual-reality "minority report" sort of computer wizardry, and tons of OTT CGI effects. How cool was it to see all those chunky clunky computers using tapes and making clicking noises!!
The houses were blissfully Playstation-free and internet-free , the kids played with toys not XBoxes, kids ACTED like kids - not mini adults with bad attitudes who were spoiled and demanding, the telephones had dials on them, the music was played on record players not MP3s players or CD players. I felt totally old when I realised this was the childhood I grew up with. We read books and didn't spend hours staring at a computer screen, we weren't bombarded with constant TV images of raunchy pop stars, Z-list celebs, and sex sex sex. We were ALLOWED to be kids back then. Part of me yearns for the good old days of childhood innocence. But I digress!
What I found most remarkable though, in comparison with all other subsequent UFO films, is Spielberg's vision of another race coming to our planet, and we The Humans, receiving them in absolute peace, trust, and a dangerous sense of innocence. When the big Mother Ship finally appears over Devils Tower, there isn't a tank, gun, Army Major or camo-clad soldier in site. Just a bunch of scientists in white coats and Ray-Bans. Nobody is there to shoot or capture the aliens, nobody feels threatened or scared. Back then, America wasn't nearly as publicly paranoid and "Terrorist-fearing" as it is now, and I think this film reflects that. This film was before the PNAC was written, before the Reagans, Clintons and Bush's realised that by terrifying their people with fear propaganda, they could control them. Nowadays EVERYTHING is a threat to America, and just like the remake of Day the Earth Stood Still, you can bet that if these aliens came back to earth today they'd be met with suspicion, aggression, fear, and a fuck-off HUGE arsenal.
What I found amusing is they way the scientists in the film happily offered up a dozen red-silk clad people as Alien Donations.....not knowing what would happen to them if they were taken. It could be a fantastic step for human-alien relations, or these people could have the skin peeled off their flesh while still alive, and their reproductive organs melted or something. And why offer them more humans when the first thing the ship does, is release all the military personnel it abducted back in WW2?
I laughed out loud when I saw the preacher doing a final blessing on the "volunteers". Laughed because he was blathering on about how "God's Angels have come for you and will protect you". For even in the face of a REAL LIVE ALIEN SPACESHIP, these brainwashed bloody preachers STILL insist that they are "the work of God". Er I don't think so.
Then finally we see Richard Dreyfuss' character going into the spaceship. And apparently not giving two shits that he's leaving behind a wife and three brattish kids. To be honest that's probably why he went with the aliens, to get away from his screeching brood :D But in today's PC climate, woudl a father willingly go off with aliens for a potentially fantastic adventure? Or would he shed a tear, straighten his back and sob "I can't leave my children, they need their farther", before going back to living a humdrum life getting fat, worrying about money, screeching at his kids who grow more ungrateful with each passing year, and finally dying in an alcohol-induced stupor brought on by the tormented thoughts of "what id I'd gone with them"?
There's an alternative ending for you Spielberg!!! :D
PS was also nice to see lots of "minor parts" in the cast that were played by actors who later became big - Josef Sommer for one, and OMG LANCE HENRIKSEN how young does he look!!!!!