02-27-2018, 12:07 AM
Saw this on the big screen for the first time in decades (I, of course, have seen large parts of it on TV since then and own it on DVD). The film really holds up. You see all the Spielberg traits developing here that have, for good and not so great, been maintained throughout his long career.

Some of the family stuff in the middle does drag and the acting of Dreyfuss' kids is pretty amateurish. Still, the flaws are greatly out-weighed by the combination of optimisim, terrific acting by the leads, Trumbull's extraordinary pre-CGI effects, Williams' music and the gorgeous first contact end sequence - the best of its kind on celluloid. Even if you don't know about Truffuat's career, his casting was a stroke of genius - kind, inquisitive and a calming presence. My two favorite bits with Dreyfuss: Stealing a peak to the skies as he's kissing Garr on the roadside; And, that final determined push to make it up the mountain to his destiny below.

Trumbull's special effects still are gold - all these years later. To me, the holy trinity of Pre-CGI Sfx remain: 2001, CE3K and BLADE RUNNER -- Trumbull being a critical artist on all three. Sure, STAR WARS won the Oscar that year, but, Trumbull's work doesn't need any CGI airbrushing the way Lucas felt necessary. I'm glad I got to meet Trumbull a couple of years ago (he introduced a 70mm film screening of 2001), and tell him how much I admire his work.

As to the quote from Spielberg that he wouldn't make the film the same way now (not having Neary leave his family). Well, that's why many artists produce their greatest work early in their careers. The whole key to CE3K for me is that boundless excitement and optimism (no wonder Ray Bradbury called it his fave sci-fi film). Neary can be seen as the adult version of little Barry. He simply MUST find out what's out there (not to mention the whole brain implant thing; and technically, his wife left him if you want to play semantics). That the 'adult' Spielberg now says he wouldn't make the film exactly the same way may buy him brownie points with his wife and kids, but, it also shows why it was important for the filmmaker to have made his classic when he did. As his thunderingly dull B.F.G. showed, he simply may have lost touch with his inner child.

Flaws and all, CE3K remains one of the great works of cinema SF.

Darcy Parker
03-08-2018, 06:45 PM
I watched the blu with my daughter a little while ago, and she made the truest observation I have ever heard about Richard Dreyfus’ character. She turned to me and said “if I had kids that were as horrible as his brats, I’d jump on the first UFO that came by too!”