Story Evaluation: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Hey guys Drew Peden here with another movie review. This time, I had a wide variety of films to pick from in the group labeled as “History & Hollywood”. Now while there was a huge variety of films to pick from, I have never actually seen any of the films on the list until now. The film I chose to watch and review was none other than “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” directed by Stephen Spielberg. This film, released in 1977 follows Roy Neary as he has a close encounter with what turn out to be aliens from space. Neary is driven crazy after his close encounter at the beginning of the film, and it drives him crazy as he sees visions of a mountain that he can not figure out. His insanity drives him and his family apart as he beings to as his family sees it “lose his mind”, and ultimately you see him finding the location in which he has been having visions of, and he sets out on a quest to find what his vision has shown him. Now along the same story line, Jillian Guiler has these same visions following a string of events caused by her son Barry. Barry is a young boy who at the beginning of the film has the first encounter with the aliens, and  chases the aliens all through town in the middle of the night. His mother ultimately brings him home and feels as if he is safe, only to have him actually abducted by the aliens and taken away. This drives Guiler crazy and she along with Neary, who share the same vision of the mountain, set out to find what their visions have told them. Their visions lead them to a location known as Devils Tower in Wyoming, where they run into each other again, as well as run into another group of people who have all had the same visions and traveled across the world to find this place. The two of them evade the military who is trying to keep them from going to the tower, and once they reach the far side of the mountain, they witness a large group of government officials bringing the extraterrestrials to the base, and communicating with them. Ultimately the aliens release Barry, along with countless other people they had abducted over the period of many years. The last scene of the movie involves Neary along with a group of other people being lined up, and a group of small aliens come out and pick him out of the group, and take him into their UFO and then fly off into space.


The inciting incident of the film that really got me hooked was when Barry, the little boy was taken, and I was hooked to see if they ever got him back. The story question to me was, what do the aliens want, why are they abducting random people, and what is making both Roy Neary and Jillian Guiler have these similar visions that drive them mad and lead them to the location. I see this film as a Science Fiction Adventure. Science Fiction, because of the aliens or “the Third Kind” as the title portrays, adventure because of the quest that Neary sets out on throughout the film to find out what his vision is and why it is driving him crazy, also because of the risks that both Neary and Guiler take to reach the other side of the mountain to see what they have been having visions of. This film is defiantly a film to entertain the viewers and give them an escape to the paranormal. In my opinion, this film did follow the Freytag Pyramid Story Structure as all events that started the film off, built up to the climax where the aliens finally show up and the humans have an up close encounter with them. This film fits in Blake Snyder’s “Dude with a Problem” category when a sudden event occurs, causing the protagonist, Roy Neary, to act out and follow his visions and not let anything get in his way. Neary, to me, is an accidental hero. He never planned to have such a close encounter, but once he did, he rose to the occasion, and ultimately led Jillian Guiler back to her son.


This film had a focus on the plot, seeing as most of the film revolved around there mysterious lights that nobody could catch, and everyone realized that they were aliens, and only a few people were actually brave to search for them and ultimately have an up close and personal encounter. The film conveys a feeling of suspense as you’re on the edge of your seat wanting to figure out what the aliens are up to and what they will do next. There is also somewhat of a focus on character, as for the most of the film, you’re seeing it through the perspective of Roy Neary and his transformation and his quest. There is also a focus on the other main character, Jillian Guiler and her struggles to find her young son Barry again. There was a great deal of struggle in this film, for example Roy Neary having an internal conflict with himself as he was haunted by these visions and seemed to drive him mad. Both Neary and Guiler had conflict with other people as they struggled to evade military personnel who were hired to keep people away from the epicenter of the big event with the aliens. There was also a man vs. man conflict as all the humans were scared of the encounters with the aliens.

To me, the weakest part of the film was the poor acting that arose in specific scenes. It was very clear that everything was very scripted, and the actors sometimes did not do such a good job at trying to truly act out the emotions of a scene. This film was a great success for being produced in 1977, seeing as it made me very curious and left me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to happen next. I thought overall, the film was a good watch. I had always heard of the film and that it was a “classic” as my parents put it, and I enjoyed it. I’m giving this film an A-.

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