Print Story OK, I admit it.
By spacejack (Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 08:29:06 AM EST) (all tags)
I never really liked Star Wars.

Instead, I preferred Close Encounters.

It doesn't mean I'm not a big sci-fi geek; of course I am. I own the original wide-screen remaster of Close Encounters on VHS. But seeing Star Wars for the first time never made a huge impact on me. Probably partly because we saw it at the drive-in, whereas we saw Close Encounters in a theatre. I also remember making my dad take me to the bathroom during Star Wars... he was a real trooper and didn't make a fuss. I think it was around the part where Obi-Wan Kanola gets killed by Anakin Vader. To be honest, I don't think I really understood what was going on in the movie. Too many non-humans or something. Plus it seemed like it started in the middle of a plot that you were supposed to already know. That didn't really sit well with me at the time.

Granted, after years of peer pressure, and long explanations of how great the sound effects for the tie fighters were, and how the Millennium Falcon was like a suped up hot rod in space with burn marks and everything, I eventually came around. By the time Return of the Jedi came out, I was lined up at the mall on opening day.

But Close Encounters had all this stuff I could immediately relate to - human characters (for the most part), set on earth, and what seemed like a highly plausible first contact scenario. Star Wars was fun, thrilling. Close Encounters was magic.

The intro for Close Encounters made a bigger impact on me too. Star Wars: big ship goes past the camera with spaceships flying around, shooting lasers. Okay, special effects. We're in space. This is indeed some "war" in the "stars". Close Encounters: black screen. Some strange sounding music fades in. Flash to pure, blinding white. Then fades back until we realize we're in a sandstorm. Then a voice, shouting above the storm: "Are we the first?" You bet dude - you're the first movie to knock me on my ass right off the bat. Heck, it already feels more futuristic, without having any sci-fi elements. Why? Because the story blended realistic dialogue, actors and environmental effects to make you feel like you're there. Something the drive-in experience of Star Wars never did for me.

The other thing was that Spielberg's directorial style stuck with me a lot longer. To this day, watching that movie makes me feel all cozy and warm, wishing I could move into the screen and live there. Star Wars films are neat and cool and all, but I could take em or leave em. I'll probably see III in the theatre, unless everyone says it's even worse than I and II.

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OK, I admit it. | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 hidden)
Speilberg is a far better director than Lucas by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 08:39:11 AM EST
and far more consistent, rarely losing touch with his middle class audience. Lucas got seduced by the dark side of science fiction, gee whiz special effects and merchandising. Where oh where has the Lucas of American Graffiti gone to?

So, yeah, Close Encounters moves me in a way Star Wars can't, and I care more about the characters in Close Encounters than the ones in Star Wars.

I hear by spacejack (4.00 / 2) #3 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 08:47:03 AM EST
Lucas is re-making American Grafitti in 3D. Plus, he's going to update the music since recording technology was so primitive back then. It's gonna be awesome.

[ Parent ]
That rollover seen near the end is scary by georgeha (4.00 / 4) #5 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 08:49:36 AM EST
maybe too scary for kids. Do you suppose he can digitally change that to a clogged carburetor, so Han's truck just slows down real quick.

[ Parent ]
I would agree, but... by ti dave (4.00 / 2) #2 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 08:43:38 AM EST
Dreyfuss really annoys me.

I don't care if people hate my guts; I assume most of them do.
The important question is whether they are in a position to do anything about it. --W.S. Burroughs

yeah by spacejack (4.00 / 1) #4 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 08:49:23 AM EST
Have to agree. There are some 70s actors I'll never understand the popularity of. Like that Richard Benjamin guy (from such films as Catch 22 and Westworld). I mean WTF?

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I cheered when by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 4) #14 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 10:48:45 AM EST
the shark ate him.

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Unfortunately by spacejack (4.00 / 3) #16 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 11:15:16 AM EST
I think you're getting him mixed up with Robert Shaw. In the sequel to Close Encounters, we find out that Richard Dreyfuss annoyed the aliens he flew away with so much that they decided to destroy the human race.

[ Parent ]
Definitely a better movie by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 08:52:23 AM EST
But inferior on the toy front and hence lacking nostalgia appeal.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
I would've bought spaceship toys by spacejack (4.00 / 1) #7 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 08:55:20 AM EST
But only if they could light up and play music like in the movie.

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Did you not have one of these? by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 1) #23 Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 12:05:52 AM EST

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no but by spacejack (2.00 / 0) #24 Thu Apr 14, 2005 at 03:15:10 AM EST
even better, we had a Merlin.

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never seen it by tps12 (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 09:04:26 AM EST
I love Closet Cases of the Nerd Kind however. "Backed up to the cornbread!" Heh.

Sheesh, been a long time by spacejack (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 10:32:25 AM EST
since I heard that title. I never did see that, or Hardware Wars. I felt so left out :(

[ Parent ]
Write In: The Thing from Another World by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 09:06:27 AM EST
The first sci-fi flick I really remember seeing was "The Thing from Another World." Late movie on the television. My dad let my brother and I stay up to watch it. There are certainly better sci-fi movies out there, but I've got a soft sport for that film.

Oh yeah I've seen that by spacejack (4.00 / 1) #12 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 10:36:47 AM EST
back in college while in my "researching the roots of popular sci-fi movies" phase. A bit B, a bit creepy as I recall. Pretty good though; it was a Howard Hawks film after all. His original "Scarface" is great.

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WIPO: Planet of the Apes by FlightTest (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 10:23:59 AM EST

The original movies of course, not the recent remake. I probably had as much $$$ worth of Planet of the Apes toys as I did Star Wars, mosttly because the PotA stuff was larger and more expensive per toy. In sheer number of toys though, I had more Star Wars stuff.

Yup I remember the toys by spacejack (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 10:38:01 AM EST
They were big. G.I. Joe size IIRC.

[ Parent ]
technically by alprazolam (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 11:04:13 AM EST
I didn't see Close Encounters or 2001 until I wasn't a kid. So I had to go with Tron. I watched it when I was home from school one day hopped up on cold medicine and pretty much thought it was the greatest thing ever.

I watched it again a year or two ago and still enjoyed it.

The difference between Start Wars and Close Encounters is that Close Encounters is an actual "good movie".

How old were you by sien (2.00 / 0) #17 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 12:18:38 PM EST
When you first saw those films?

The Joseph Campbell myth tapping power of Star Wars is so strong. It's impressive to see guys who were not that into Star Wars.

It says something pretty good about your psychology. You didn't think you were a hero waiting to be 'activated'? It didn't resonate with you? Or did you figure you were going to get picked up by LGMs at some point?

Nobody knows anything - William Goldman.
simple answer by spacejack (4.00 / 1) #19 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 12:58:03 PM EST
I was raised by communists.

Heh. There were a lot of mitigating factors though. For one, the drive in vs theatre experience (back then you got the crappy speaker they clipped to the window, not into your car's (mono at the time) radio.)

Second, Star Wars is the first movie I remember seeing, besides one or two other drive-ins my sister and I probably slept through. So the sheer intensity of it was kinda confusing. Close Encounters was later, so I had become more acclimatized to the experience (though being in a theatre for that was yet another new and intense experience). Still, I've never changed my mind and always preferred it.

Even more strange, I saw Superman after that, and it trumped both C.E. and S.W. in my mind for a long time. The farm shots and the city scenes seemed so freaky real in the theatre it was like a drug. I liked Superman comics, and seeing it portrayed realistically on the screen blew my mind. And I'd still rate Superman (only the first one) over Star Wars today.

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Close Encounters ROCKS by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #18 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 12:23:33 PM EST
It is still one of my all-time favourite movies, and one of John Williams' most interesting scores -- the entire climax was recorded as music first, then Spielberg cut the film to fit the music (which, needless to say, is unorthodox).

Last summer I had the fortune of spending a few days with one of the engineers who worked on the visual effects for Close Encounters. He told me about how he was coughing up the taste of dry ice for a week after spending days dressed in black, running lights along tracks in fog in order to create the volumetric light layer for compositing the alien ship fly-bys. Awesome stories.

I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da. We are a simple, grease-loving people who enjoy le weekend de ski.
Traditional effects are so cool by spacejack (2.00 / 0) #20 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 01:15:44 PM EST
I don't recall much of the 'making of' information I must have read about this movie, but the seamless integration of the effects into the (fantastically gorgeously shot) real world environment still amazes me. All those great night shots, with painted backgrounds, models, composited with lighting that interacted with the scene. Incredible stuff.

[ Parent ]
Blade Runner by bob6 (4.00 / 3) #21 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 09:01:46 PM EST
This movie totally moved me. Twice.

WIPO: Condorman by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #22 Wed Apr 13, 2005 at 09:48:14 PM EST
Made in Britain with pride.  No - no, wait, The Return of Captain Invicible - you can't beat singing Australian superheroes.  Into the blue, Goddammit.

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.
OK, I admit it. | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 hidden)