After a temporary black-out, Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is sent to investigate. En route his truck mysteriously breaks down and the area is lit by strange lights from above.
As Roy investigates further he begins to feel drawn to a certain shape and, after relentlessly following the spacecraft's movements, he finds that other people have the same attraction to the shape as he does.
Meanwhile, the US Government are investigating how to communicate with the mysterious beings, and settle on a strange five-tone piece. The response they receive after pulsing this into space is equally bizarre.
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is often considered to be the film that Steven Spielberg practised on when dreaming up his vision for E.T. Indeed, certain comparisons can be made between the two films, not least because they both contain alien encounters. Despite these, and the rumours of Close Encounters being almost a prequel to E.T., Close Encounters became almost a forgotten classic of Spielberg's after the release of his more famous extra-terrestrial.
In some ways, Close Encounters is a very experimental film. In fact, the term "Close Encounter" had only been coined five years ago before the film was made by J. Allen Hynek (who, incidentally made a cameo at the end of the film) in his 1972 book. As man had only ventured into space in the 1960's, alien-hysteria was at its during the couple of decades afterwards, and Spielberg took his angle by proclaiming that his aliens were almost fun, racing around US highways.
Away from all the background alien-hysteria, Close Encounters is technically fantastic. Although much of the extra-terrestrial encounters are simply just a light stuck on over the film, the ending scene features some of the finest CGI in cinema history - even by modern standards. In addition to this, the simple 5 note theme for the alien is as well recognised as that of Intel's jingle.
Technically brilliant, this was Spielberg at his best - until E.T.