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“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”: National Film Registry #19

It was in 2007, that the sci-fi classic “Close Encounters” was added to the Library’s National Film Registry.  Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr and Melinda Dillon starred in the film that forever put Devil’s Tower on the map and seemed to codify the popular depiction of space aliens.

Writer Matt Zoller Seitz looked back at this landmark film by saying:

“As a child growing up in suburban Phoenix, Arizona, during the 1950s, Steven Spielberg was fascinated by the concept of UFOs and life on other worlds. His youthful obsession bore spectacular fruit decades later, this movie-and-TV-crazy suburban boy grew up to become an expressive director whose first three features, ‘Duel,’ ‘The Sugarland Express,’ and ‘Jaws’ coupled precision-tooled suspense narratives with an uncanny understanding of how middle-class Americans thought, felt, and dreamed. His nautical horror film ‘Jaws,’ released in the summer of 1975, went on to become the top grossing film of the 1970s. It was succeeded two years later by the space fantasy ‘Star Wars,’ directed by his old friend and future co-producer, George Lucas.”

Read the rest of his “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (PDF) essay.


Title:  “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”

Year of Release:  1977

Year Added to the National Film Registry:  2007  (See all films added to the Registry in 2007.)

Trivia:  The creepy fog in the film was created by special effects master Douglas Trumbull by mixing white paint into tanks half filled with fresh water and half filled with salt water.

This blog post is the 19th in our “30 Years of the National Film Registry” series which was launched to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Registry.  The National Film Registry selects 25 films each year showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.  The 30th National Film Registry selections will be announced on December 12, 2018.


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