Friday, August 18, 2017

Stanton Friedman on Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Stanton Friedman on Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Steven Spielberg's 1977 film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is headed back to theaters. In its original release, the audiences went in not knowing what to expect. The previews and ads suggested something a bit sinister and mysterious.  Spielberg was famous for terrifying audiences with the shark and Jaws, so many people may have been expecting CE3K to be a space monster movie. We were told to "Watch the Skies," and that, "We are Not alone." It sounded like a warning.

“When Steven Spielberg made Jaws, the world went shark crazy. Reports of shark attacks increased by the thousands and people began to approach the beach with caution and even with fear. Now with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Spielberg is making a film about an even more fascinating subject and one thing seems certain. Just as Jaws gave us a new respect for the mysteries that lie beneath the surface of the sea, after seeing Close Encounters of the Third Kind, we will probably never look at the sky in quite the same way again.
Like Jaws, Steven Spielberg’s newest film begins in a small American town but this time it leads to one inescapable conclusion: we are not alone. WATCH THE SKIES”

6 minute teaser

1977 TV spot for CE3K

CE3K& Ufology

Close Encounters became a huge financial success, a beloved classic of cinema and a touchstone for the UFO topic. However on it's original release, the reviews were mixed. Let's take a look back at what critics were saying about it at the time. In Variety, A.D. Murphy said:
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is a daring film concept which in its special and technical effects has been superbly realized. Steven Spielberg’s film climaxes in final 35 minutes with an almost ethereal confrontation with life forms from another world; the first 100 minutes, however, are somewhat redundant in exposition and irritating in tone.
Ufologist Dr. J. Allen Hynek was a consultant on the film, and deeply involved in the project, and a big supporter. He participated in its promotion, had a cameo in it, published a non-fiction book The Hynek UFO Report released in connection with the film, wrote the epilogue to the CE3K novelization, and received funding and publicity for CUFOs, the Center for UFO Studies.

Friedman With Portrait Of Sculpture
made from a recollection of a close encounter

Ufologist, Stanton T. Friedman, "the flying saucer scientist" was less enthusiastic about the film. Prior to resurrecting the Roswell case, Friedman was a flying saucer lecturer who chiefly promoted the Betty and Barney Hill abduction story. He'd consulted on the 1975 TV movie based on the Hill case, The UFO Incident, but he gave low marks to Spielberg's film. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was criticized by Stanton Friedman as "inaccurate." He said that, " 'Close Encounters' is visually spectacular- a feast for the eyes- but UFOlogically a disaster," and in his opinion, "about 20 percent legitimate and 80 percent overdone."

The Sarasota Journal,  Jan. 11, 1978 
It's not known if Friedman's disapproval prompted Spielberg to tamper with the film, but CE3K has been re-edited several times over the decades, with footage added and cut. With the new re-release, Spielberg has one last chance to fix his mistakes, and just maybe, to finally win the praise of the flying saucer scientist.


  1. The Cuban jet fighter - UFO encounter mentioned in the last news article: have you ever seen more details about it?

    1. No, but a 2-second search produces this, which seems to be the same incident.


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