Programming Criterion's "Close Encounters"?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Damin J Toell, Mar 10, 2002.

  1. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    I've got the Criterion Close Encounters of the Third Kind CAV set and i've read that following the insert's programming instructions (to add the additional scenes from the end of each side in) actually results in the "ultimate" network TV version instead of the 1980 Special Edition (as it claims). Does anyone know if it's possible to program the Criterion set in such a way as to get the 1980 SE version? Or should i just pick up a copy of the Columbia Tri-Star SE, which i've read has inferior picture quality?
    edited to add: i was referencing the Columbia SE Laserdisc from 1994 (which contains the 1980 version) above, not the current DVD, which i already own. i'm trying to get the 1980 cut (which the DVD doesn't have) for the sake of completion.
    thanks,
    DJ
     
  2. Scott Simonian

    Scott Simonian Screenwriter

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    I have never seen the Criterion LD but I own the dvd and I was quite suprised about the picture quality.
    It was very good. [​IMG]
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The DVD is great, but it only has the director's cut (1998 version).

    The picture quality has a few rough spots (just a little course grain) due to much of the negative being cut up through the years.

    It's definately the best it has looked and is a top-notch restoration.
     
  4. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

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    I'm not sure if the Criterion Close Encounters can be programmed for the 1980 "Special Edition" but it does, as you indicate, include ALL the footage from both versions of the film. The inserts in the disc do omit some chapters, however. Those chapters may be scenes left out of the special edition.
    When playing the Criterion discs with the "extra" chapters included, there is an annoying pause while the player seeks the scenes at the end of each side. So if you want a consistent viewing experience, this LD may not be your best bet.
    However, if you know someone industrious, you could have someone use a VHS of the 1980 version as a blueprint to edit together the same version from the letterboxed laserdisc [​IMG]
     
  5. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  6. Jo_C

    Jo_C Second Unit

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    I have the Criterion CAV LD personally, and for the record I can tell you it has all the footage from both versions that was available to the public at the time of the LD release.

    It actually has two versions that are different from the two prior theatrical releases. The main version (the one that's not programmable) is actually the syndicated television cut. It is primarily the original 1977 release minus about 30 seconds of trims Steven Spielberg himself wanted left out of the body of the film (those 30 seconds are represented as uncredited chapters at the end of the appropriate side), while restoring the shadow of the UFO from the 1980 "Special Edition". Selected sides of the disc contain a supplementary section containing those scenes from the aforementioned "Special Edition" which can be seen by themselves or, by using a programmable LD player, as part of another extended variant of the film which attempts to merge all footage from both versions (with the exception of the 30 missing seconds), therby creating a 2 1/2 hour cut of the film.

    The DVD, of course, is one of two "final" versions of the movie Spielberg supervised for a 20th Anniversary video release originally done for 1998 VHS and LD reissue.

    'nuff said?
     
  7. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    I used to own the Criterion laserdisc, and as I recall it is not possible to program it to play the Special Edition, only the "everything but the kitchen sink" version.

    There are two shots that are missing from even the trims at the ends of the Criterion discs. It's the first half of the shot of the crowd standing up to applaud Lacombe at the tail end of the scene where he's teaching them the hand signals in the auditorium. The supplemental shot on Criterion starts at the shot change -- it doesn't show the crowd starting to stand up. Rent the Special Edition tape and see for yourself.

    I much prefer the sequencing of the original theatrical cut, where there would be a longer sequence with Neary, then a longer sequence with Lacombe, rather than cutting back and forth between them so much. Spielberg had a beautiful three-tiered structure in the original cut leading up to Barry's abduction, three sequences all in a row that each begin and end with the alien code. You can only see this structure on the Criterion laserdisc:

    The auditorium sequence with LaCombe, which ends with the alien signal being played on a synthesizer while LaCombe follows along with his hand signals, then a cut to the radio telescope picking up the alien signal, and on to the sequence which ends with Lacombe plucking the signal out on the keyboard, which cuts to Barry hitting the same notes on his toy xylophone. It gives me chills.

    Both of the other cuts of the film go from the auditorioum sequence to Neary checking his camera. It's just not as effective.

    The other trim is of the globe at the radio telescope. I saw the original cut in the theater in 1978. I and at least one friend distinctly recall that when they removed the globe from its stand and rolled it out into the hall, the shot did not cut away -- the camera tracked along behind them as they rolled the globe all the way down the hall and out into the command center. I remember it clearly because it got a laugh in the theater. You can even see on the DVD where the camera starts to follow them, but then the shot cuts to them lifting the globe onto the platform. That is a trim that has never found its way onto any video. The true original theatrical cut has never been released on any home video format.

    I agree that the lastest "director's cut" is the best one, but I'd prefer an "everything but the kitchen sink" cut.
     
  8. Todd Stout

    Todd Stout Screenwriter

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    Wow... I seem to remember the scene where globe falls off the stand, rolls into the hall, hits the wall and then the camera follows behind as the men roll the globe down the hall as well. I've seen Close Encounters several times over the past 25 years. I saw it in 1977 when I was just 7 (I remember arguing that Close Encounters was better than Star Wars with my friend back then), I saw the 1980 Special Edition when it came out, I've seen it on cable and network TV several times, I rented the Criterion Laserdisc back in 1993 and I now own the DVD. It's really hard to keep track of which scenes are in which version of the film.

    I do think that the director's cut DVD is the best version that I have seen yet.
     
  9. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    thanks for the help, everyone. it looks like i'll be picking up a copy of the 1994 Columbia SE LD to complete the set (as best as possible, anyway).
    if anyone else has any relevant minutiae about the various versions of the film to add, please do so. [​IMG]
    DJ
     
  10. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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  11. Jo_C

    Jo_C Second Unit

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    From the Internet Movie Database, here's the info on the other "final" version...

    "A new director's cut of the film was screened at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's Samuel Goldwyn Theater on January 12, 1999. This version was created by Sony Pictures' Film Restoration deparment following an outline prepared by Steven Spielberg and combines material from both the original and the special edition, in addition with a digitally remastered soundtrack This 'definitive director's edition' was created for the AFI 'Top 100 Films of All Time'".

    There you go.
     
  12. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  13. Jo_C

    Jo_C Second Unit

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    It contains the 1998 "final" version.
     
  14. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  15. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    There are no separate 1998 and 1999 versions. There's the 1977 version, the 1981 Special Edition, the home video/TV Original Version, the "everything but the kitchen sink" TV version, and the 1998 Collector's Edition.

    The IMDB refers to the 1998 cut as "the fifth and final version" -- I think they just mean it was screened at the Academy in Jan. of 1999 -- which would mean it was finished in 1998. This is what's on the DVD.
     
  16. Lannie Lorence

    Lannie Lorence Stunt Coordinator

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    Here's what I've been wondering. I believe the UFO shadow shot replaced another shot from the original version. But the shadow shot is on the Criterion LD. What about the original shot. Is it somewhere on the LD, that I am not aware of.
     

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