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Close Encounters of the Third Kind


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#1 of 182 Gary->dee

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Posted March 19 2003 - 01:00 PM

Why were there so many versions of this fantastic movie? There was the initial theatrical release, then the special edition a few years later, then the long TV version that included just about everything, then the VHS version, then the laserdisc version- which had scenes in that still aren't on the DVD, and finally two DVD versions.

I might be forgetting a version or two but the main point of my question is why were all the deleted scenes still not included on the collector's edition DVD? I think it's a superb 2 disc set, don't get me wrong. There's cut scenes on it that I'd never seen before and doubt I would have ever seen had it not been for the 2nd disc, but there's still some things missing from it.

Specifically there's a short moment when Roy experiences the UFO's on the hill with the country folk and the older guy with the mustache says something about how they(the UFO's) can fly rings around Saturn but they can't beat us on the highway, or something like that.

Then there's the scene shortly after that when Roy's job calls him at home to fire him. His wife(Terri Garr) answers the phone and tells him that they fired him. Roy then plops back on his bed and notices the pillow: it's shaped like a mound, Devil's Tower in Wyoming but he doesn't know that yet. He looks at his pillow long and hard and finally rises up and says, "That's not right".

That's just 2 examples I can recall off the top of my head of cut scenes still not on the collector's edition DVD. I almost feel that they should code every showing or copy of Close Encounters before the movie comes on just so we know exactly which version we're looking at.

#2 of 182 Dave H

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Posted March 19 2003 - 01:04 PM

The DVD version is what Spielberg wanted. He didn't want some of those deleted scenes in the movie.

I will say, I am not a huge fan of extras, but the documentary on the 2-disc set is one of the best I have ever seen and I am glad I have it.

#3 of 182 greg_t

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Posted March 19 2003 - 01:44 PM

I have the Criterion Laserdisc, which is the original theatrical version, and the DVD. The "they can't beat us on the highway" line of dialoge is definitely on the LD but is not on the dvd. The 2 disc set is great, but I really like having the original theatrical version too.

#4 of 182 Patrick McCart

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Posted March 19 2003 - 01:57 PM

The DVD is the best representation of Close Encounters of the Third Kind directed by Steven Speilberg. The 1977 theatrical cut lacked scenes Speilberg was able to film or finish. The 1980 Special Edition closer resembles the Speilberg cut, but had a poorly tacked-on ending (by request of Columbia). The Collector's Edition features the best footage from the 1977 and 1980 cuts and takes out the stuff Speilberg didn't want.

Get the 2-disc version if you can...it's great in quality and supplements.

#5 of 182 Gary->dee

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Posted March 20 2003 - 04:08 AM

Quote:
The "they can't beat us on the highway" line of dialoge is definitely on the LD but is not on the dvd.


Right, I saw that brief moment on the LD years ago when I recorded it on videotape. I'm wondering why that wasn't included as part of the deleted scenes on the 2nd disc of the DVD. I mean it was already included on the LD, so why not the DVD as well? Also, what about the pillow scene? Does anyone know what I'm referring to? I can't remember if it's also on the LD or not. That's of course another scene I wish was included as part of disc 2. That particular scene had an magic buzz to it(for lack of a better explanation) and I wish it would have been included on the DVD as part of the deleted scenes.

I was hoping I could discard the 2 videotapes I have of CE3K thinking that the DVD would have all the deleted scenes available. But I won't be doing that because the LD recording I have has the old man's brief's scene and the old TV version I have has the pillow scene. You might think I'm nuts but I love this movie so I want some kind of record of every scene I know is available.

#6 of 182 greg_t

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Posted March 20 2003 - 10:23 AM

I'm out of town on business, but can try to check my laserdisc when I get home this weekend.

#7 of 182 Kevin M

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Posted March 20 2003 - 10:27 AM

Didn't the Criterion LD edit both the original 1977 & 1980 SE version together?
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#8 of 182 Michael Reuben

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Posted March 20 2003 - 10:44 AM

Quote:
Didn't the Criterion LD edit both the original 1977 & 1980 SE version together?

Sort of. The CAV box set featured the 1977 original theatrical release, with additional scenes from the 1980 SE at the end of the appropriate side. If you just played the disc, you got the 1977 version (plus a few short scenes that Spielberg specifically wanted to include, like the shadow of the mothership passing over Roy's truck). If you programmed your player to skip around various chapters, you got something like the 1980 version (but not exactly, because the 1980 version trimmed some of the scenes of Neary at home from the 1977 version).

It was a great idea, but it didn't work very well. LD being what it was, the chapter switches caused long pauses that were quite intrusive, and not all players handled them accurately.

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#9 of 182 Kevin M

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Posted March 20 2003 - 11:05 AM

Ah, along the same lines as their Halloween LD.
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#10 of 182 greg_t

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Posted March 20 2003 - 11:13 AM

I do not have the box set, it is only one disc and it only has the theatrical version, none of the special edition. It seems like it would be a pain to have to program chapters on a laserdisc.

#11 of 182 Dave Mack

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Posted March 20 2003 - 11:28 AM

"...we're YEARS ahead of 'em here on the highway."

Same actor from Christine and Home Alone, Roberts Blossom.

#12 of 182 Gary->dee

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Posted March 20 2003 - 11:45 AM

Here's some bits I've gathered about the pillow scene which I believe was in the initial theatrical release back in '77 but was cut from all subsequent releases:

From Spielbergfilms.com
Moments later in the same scene, Neary's boss at the electrical company calls his house and fires him. As he and Ronnie lie atop their bed contemplating this unfortunate turn of events, Roy turns his head to the left and observes a fluffed-up pillow on the bed. The character's look of concentration is similar to that which he employed in the previous scene; he studies the pillow with the same intense gaze that he used to scrutinize the pile of shaving cream. Spielberg first shows the pillow as a dark, mountainous shape in the left foreground of the frame with Dreyfuss' character lying on the bed on the right in the background. Within the same scene, he also chooses to center the frame on the top corner of the pillow, which is being lit by a key light from the left, highlighting its resemblance to a mountain.

From Filmsite.org
As Roy lies on his bed and listens to Ronnie, he becomes more and more withdrawn into his own world. Her voice is muted in the background as he turns his face away and looks at an upright pillow - again seeing the familiar shape and image of a contoured mound. Instinctively, he reaches out toward the outline of the shape to understand it - he tells her: "That's not right..."
http://www.geocities...CE3K_pillow.txt

#13 of 182 Peter Kline

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Posted March 20 2003 - 12:13 PM

The film played on TMC a day or so ago. Spielberg wanted to re-edit the film slightly as it was rushed into release. Columbia Pictures, according to TMC Ok'd the changes ONLY if they would show RD going inside the ship. SSS agreed, but hated the results. As usual, the tv showing added some more footage - usually just extending some scenes.

#14 of 182 Gary->dee

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Posted March 20 2003 - 12:32 PM

I don't know about anyone else but I actually like the ending with Roy inside the mothership. I like the effects, the music and Roy's reaction to seeing it all. It demystified the UFO's to a certain extent, but IMO it seemed like a bigger pay-off to the entire movie than just seeing Roy board the ship and take off.

#15 of 182 Colin Jacobson

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Posted March 20 2003 - 12:59 PM

I hate the mothership interior material. I think it ruins the ending...
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#16 of 182 Peter Apruzzese

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Posted March 20 2003 - 01:39 PM

I agree with Colin, the movie is perfectly pitched, editing-wise and music-wise, without the interior stuff. The climax of the movie is him leaving, not what he sees. My imagination of the interior of the ship was far better than what they showed. (Many clueless audience members also thought that the shower of lights that hits him inside turns him into the alien that comes out at the end! I overheard them on the way out of my theatre every night when I played the special edition in 1980).
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#17 of 182 Jo_C

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Posted March 20 2003 - 04:03 PM

I want to correct the information one of you guys made on the version of "Close Encounters" that appears on the Criterion LD (and I have stated this many times in many places on the Internet).

The primary version on the Criterion LD is a re-edit of the original version minus about 30 seconds cut at the request of Steven Spielberg. These are subtle changes. There's a shot in the original of the truck driving down the road which was taken out (you can see this brief snippet on the "making of" section of the Columbia-Tri Star deluxe DVD). It has been replaced by the shadow of the UFO seen in the "Special Edition". There's also a bit of Roy (Richard Dreyfuss) watching "Days Of Our Lives" that was cut (this can be seen as an unmarked chapter stop at the end of the appropriate side). There is also a short bit of Roy, Jillian, and a reporter "running for their lives" (this comes after Lacombe's statement "...event of socialogical")...it too can be seen as an unmarked chapter stop at the end of that appropriate side. The version I'm talking about is commonly called "the syndicated TV version" because this was the cut that ran in syndication (and eventually numerous times on the Sci-Fi Channel and TCM). So, in reality, the original 135-minute version has never been officially released on video (although rumor had it for a time that the original cut was on VHS, one of the first Columbia home videos put out, but there is no real proof of this...especially 23 years after the advent of home video as we know it today).

Incidentally, the "special edition" scenes are at the end of selected sides of the Criterion LD (which, by the way, is still in my possession). Using LD player technology of the time (which would, had Criterion put it out on DVD, have been seamless branching via today's DVD technology) you could also create a totally different "special edition" using nearly all footage available to be put together by the LD viewer...and very similar to what ABC did when it ran CE3K in the 1980s.

Hopefully in the future I'll devote more time to talking in detail about all the versions of CE3K that have ever been put out, but for the record there have been no more than EIGHT versions of the film...

1. Original 1977 Theatrical release (135 min.; unavailable on video officially)
2. 1980 Special Edition (132 min.)
3. 1982 ABC version (nearly 145 min.; the first known version to combine footage from the two previous main versions)
4. Criterion/syndicated TV cut
5. The "do-it-yourself" Special Edition (created by proper programming of your LD player, for those players with such features)
6. The 1998 "Collector's Edition" (basically a re-edit of the original 1977 version plus a few moments from the 1980 "Special Edition" but minus a few moments from the original and the SE mothership ending).
7. The "Final Edition" pieced together by the Starz/Encore movie channel (to date the only version that uses ALL existing released footage).
8. The "final director's cut" screened at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's Samuel Goldwyn Theater on January 12, 1999 (this was edited according to an original Spielberg story outline---and markedly different than the 1998 edit).

Currently, the 1998 version is widely seen on cable (and more recently on TCM).

I hope this answers your questions you may have about the film.

#18 of 182 Brian W.

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Posted March 20 2003 - 04:34 PM

Yes, the true original theatrical cut has never been available on home video.

Quote:
There's a shot in the original of the truck driving down the road which was taken out (you can see this brief snippet on the "making of" section of the Columbia-Tri Star deluxe DVD). It has been replaced by the shadow of the UFO seen in the "Special Edition".


Right, and that also is an unmarked chapter at the end of the side of the Criterion laserdisc. It's actually not a whole different shot -- it's just the first half of the remaining shot, so you see Neary's truck approaching up the tunnel.

Neary, Jillian, and what's-his-name "broke out" of the helicopter in the original theatrical version, just as the army men were about to shut the doors. Roy shouts, "Go for the mountain!" as the old lady in the copter says, "Be careful! Don't fight, don't fight." Some of the other passengers try to get out, too, but only those three escape.

I think it's more realistic for them to "sneak away" as they do currently. It looked kind of hokey with them bursting out (it didn't look like the army men were trying very hard to keep them in), and also it takes away from the moment when Lacombe sees them sneaking away and says nothing. I mean, if it was known immediately that they had escaped, surely they would have been caught.

However, when Neary says to the other prisoners in the copter, "How many of you are for getting out of here?" SEVERAL people raise their hands, not just the three that left... so if you don't have the botched escape, how do you explain why the others aren't with them? At any rate, the long shot of them sneaking away has been trimmed still further on the DVD release -- Spielberg cut the first couple seconds of it.

There is one trim that has never been on any home video edition, even the Criterion. When the men at the observatory take the globe off its axis to use as a map, in the original theatrical cut they rolled that globe out of the room and into the hall, then rolled it all the way down the hall with the camera tracking behind them, through the door, and into the warehouse, with the camera watching from the doorway. In all subsequent edits of the film, they roll the globe into the hall, then the shot cuts away just as they start rolling it down the hall. You can even see the camera starting to move behind them, then it cuts away.

I didn't notice the pillow scene was missing from the deleted scenes on the DVD. Huh. That sucks. Well, one day, when I get a DVD recorder, I'm going to edit together the "everything but the kitchen sink" cut from the laserdisc (and the DVD, too, if I can).

All that said, the current DVD is the best version of the film, probably even better than the combined TV version.

#19 of 182 Steven_M Grimes

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Posted March 21 2003 - 01:57 AM

There is one trim that has never been on any home video edition, even the Criterion. When the men at the observatory take the globe off its axis to use as a map, in the original theatrical cut they rolled that globe out of the room and into the hall, then rolled it all the way down the hall with the camera tracking behind them, through the door, and into the warehouse, with the camera watching from the doorway. In all subsequent edits of the film, they roll the globe into the hall, then the shot cuts away just as they start rolling it down the hall. You can even see the camera starting to move behind them, then it cuts away.


I remembered this scene from the theater as being somewhat humorous, but as I never found it that funny in subsequent home video viewings, I just assumed that my seven year old self was more easily amused. It never occurred to me that the scene had been shortened, though considering all the other changes made to the film over the years I should have.

Another trim that is NOT in either the 1998 edit or the DVD version is the closeup on the McDonald's sign during Roy Neary's first encounter. The Special Edition inserted a close up of the sign to show that the UFO was reading it. In the current version the UFO stops and looks at it, but as it remains a long shot it isn't as noticeable. I assumed in 1998 that the shot's omission was a mistake, but since it wasn't fixed for the DVD, I guess I was wrong. I seem to recall seeing an interview with someone about that shot, where they pointed it out as something they wanted to "fix", so I'm a little puzzled by its continued absence.

Also, two important notes about the Criterion LD: First, it is impossible to program the Special Edition to play because the chapter stops were set up incorrectly. This was long rumored to have been fixed in later pressings, but I've yet to hear from anyone who got a fixed one. Second, although the DVD is clearly the best way to view (and hear) the film, the Criterion LD remains a viable alternative for one very important reason--the bulk of the film was transferred from an original release print and is at times remarkably cleaner and clearer than every version of the film from the 1980 special edition on. I've never seen anything about this (never really looked, either, so if I'm wrong please let me know) but I'm guessing that either the original negative to the film doesn't exist anymore or was damaged after 1977, because to my eyes every home video version except the Criterion LD, and this includes the DVD, seems to be based on a release print from the 1980 special edition. I'm basing this on print damage and a noticeable drop in quality during effects shots that don't seem to be present in the Criterion transfer.

To give one specific example, early in the film when Jillian looks out her window and sees Barry running around, there's a low reverse shot of her in the house, with the sky visible behind her. On the Criterion LD the sky is deep black and the stars so bright that they seem to pop out of screen. One of the stars is moving, as well. On every other home video that I've seen the sky in that shot is not at all the same, and looks in comparison to be a generation or two removed from the original. The stars certainly don't pop out, and the moving star is much less noticeable.

Overall, of course, the DVD is visually superior, but I'm glad I've hung onto the Criterion LD just the same, because it DOES look different.

#20 of 182 Michael Reuben

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Posted March 21 2003 - 02:31 AM

Quote:
First, it is impossible to program the Special Edition to play because the chapter stops were set up incorrectly.

It's been years since I tried this, but my recollection is that the instructions included with the LD box gave incorrect chapter listings, but it was possible to get the chapters in pretty much the right order for the "extended version" if you knew what goes where. As I said in my earlier post, it never really worked well -- not the least because the "1977 version" on the LD wasn't really the 1977 version.

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