Is Close Encounters Steven Spielberg’s Ultimate Masterpiece?

Close Encounters is simply untraditional compared to most other movies, including Spielberg movies.

Spielberg’s movies are known for being emotional roller coasters. Some of those are adventures, some are thrillers, others are harrowing dramas. But all of them have huge spikes of emotion throughout. Close Encounters really doesn’t do that, it’s much more even-keeled. Throughout the film, when Spielberg (who both wrote and directed) hits the audience with a jolt of emotion, it’s not just shock and awe, he lets it play out over a longer period of time. For example, when Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) first sees the alien ships flying across town, you really get to see them. It’s not just a quick reveal; they are there, on-screen, for much longer than they need to be. When they go away, it doesn’t take half the movie to see them again, they’re back just a few scenes later.

This level of consistency is seen throughout the film partially because never for a second is there a question if aliens exist. Another movie might tease that: “Are they real? Are they in his head?” Not Close Encounters. The only real question in the story is how do these characters, especially Roy, fit into the aliens’ plan. The film is not a traditional mystery — it’s not traditional at all. It’s about personal discovery, finding out what a person was meant for and how deeply they believe.

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