Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 1977. Columbia Pictures Corporation, EMI Films, Julia Phillips and Michael Phillips Productions. Screenplay by Steven Spielberg. Cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond. Produced by Julia Phillips, Michael Phillips. Music by John Williams. Production Design by Joe Alves. Costume Design by James Linn. Film Editing by Michael Kahn. Academy Awards 1977. Golden Globe Awards 1977. National Board of Review Awards 1977. New York Film Critics Awards 1977.
Critics and audiences alike wondered how Steven Spielberg would follow the phenomenal success of Jaws, and he did it with this milestone science-fiction film. Richard Dreyfuss stars as a power line worker who has an apparent encounter with a UFO late one night while repairing a fallen cable, and it prompts him to seek out a large space in the Mojave desert where something unknown to him is supposed to happen. Couple that with planes missing for thirty years suddenly reappearing there, plus a cosmic movement of people looking to the stars for a message, and you have a very weird day that’s about to get even weirder. Unlike the science-fiction films of the fifties and sixties, which showed aliens as hostile creatures looking to take over the world, Spielberg’s are friendly and intelligent, looking to make contact in order to improve the universe and not destroy it. The special effects are terrific (and considering it came out the same year as Star Wars, it was a great year for science-fiction), and Spielberg’s screenplay is thought-provoking and heartfelt.