Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The plot focuses on an average American man this house, played by Richard Dreyfuss, who is touched by a light beam from an alien spacecraft. The beam generated within him an obsession with a shape he later discovers to be Devil's Tower in Wyoming, the alien's appointed landing place. Much of the ensuing story depicts the hero's efforts to learn the meaning of his vision and then, along with the mother of a boy who has been taken away by aliens, to penetrate government secrecy and ascend the mountain to the landing site.
Interesting parallels between the film and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress have been drawn by English-born physicist Paul Davies:2
Spielberg's aliens ... appeared in a halo of bright light and possessed a serene, other-wordly quality reminiscent of biblical encounters with angels. Much of the imagery ... was Bunyanesque, especially near the final scene when the alien mothercraft appears in the sky, awesome, brilliantly illuminated and suggestive of [the] Celestial City. Throughout the story the aliens set the agenda, and privileged humans were drawn psychically and with religious, pilgrim-like fervor towards the all-important encounter after many trials, tribulations and doubts.The release of Close Encounters coincided with a new wave of UFO sightings and public interest which filtered up through official circles. This culminated in a debate by the United Nations General Assembly special political committee, in which there was a call by Grenada's delegate (unsuccessful as it turned out) for an international agency to study the phenomenon.
Related entry SETI, religious dimension
Related categories SCIENCE FICTION
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