Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Unknown Objects in our Skies and the UFO Close Encounter Scale

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Unknown Objects in our Skies and the UFO Close Encounter Scale
Close Encounters was released in November 1977 and was a critical and financial success. The film was reissued in 1980 as Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Special Edition, which featured additional scenes. 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, also known as CE3K, is a 1977 American science fiction film written and directed by Steven Spielberg.

The film stars Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, and Cary Guffey.

It tells the story of Roy Neary, an Indiana electrical lineman, whose life changes after he has an encounter with an unidentified flying object.

In addition, the United States government is also aware of the UFOs as is a team of international scientific researchers.

Close Encounters was a long-cherished project for Spielberg. In late 1973, he developed a deal with Columbia Pictures for a science fiction film.

Though Spielberg receives sole credit for the script, he was assisted by Paul Schrader, John Hill, David Giler, Hal Barwood, Matthew Robbins, and Jerry Belson, all of whom contributed to the screenplay in varying degrees.

The title is derived from astronomer/ufologist J. Allen Hynek's classification of close encounters with aliens, in which the third kind denotes human observations of actual aliens or "animate beings".

Filming began in May 1976. Douglas Trumbull served as the visual effects supervisor, while Carlo Rambaldi designed the aliens.

The film received numerous awards and nominations at the 50th Academy Awards, 32nd British Academy Film Awards, the Saturn Awards and has been widely acclaimed by the American Film Institute.

In December 2007, it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry

The genesis of Close Encounters of the Third Kind started when Steven Spielberg and his father saw a meteor shower in New Jersey when the director was a young boy.

As a teenager, Spielberg completed the full-length science fiction film Firelight. Many scenes from Firelight would be incorporated in Close Encounters on a shot-for-shot basis.

In 1970 he wrote a short story called Experiences  about a lovers' lane in a Midwestern United States farming community and the "light show" a group of teenagers see in the night sky.

In late 1973, during post-production on The Sugarland Express, Spielberg developed a deal with Columbia Pictures for a science fiction film. 20th Century Fox previously turned down the offer. Julia and Michael Phillips instantly signed on as producers.

Film critic Charlene Engel observed Close Encounters "suggests that humankind has reached the point where it is ready to enter the community of the cosmos."

"While it is a computer interface which makes the final musical conversation with the alien guests possible, the characteristics bringing Neary to make his way to Devil's Tower have little to do with technical expertise or computer literacy. These are virtues taught in schools that will be evolved in the 21st century."

The film also evokes typical science fiction archetypes and motifs. The film portrays new technologies as a natural and expected outcome of human development and indication of health and growth.

Close Encounters Classification Scale

In ufology, a close encounter is an event in which a person witnesses an unidentified flying object. This terminology and the system of classification behind it was started by astronomer and UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek, and was first suggested in his 1972 book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry.

He introduced the first three kinds of encounters; more sub-types of close encounters were later added by others, but these additional categories are not universally accepted by UFO researchers, mainly because they depart from the scientific rigor that Hynek aimed to bring to ufology.

Close encounter of the first kind

A sighting of one or more unidentified flying objects:

  • Flying saucers
  • Odd lights
  • Aerial objects that are not attributable to known human technology

Close encounter of the second kind

An observation of a UFO, and associated physical effects from the UFO, including:

  • Heat or radiation
  • Damage to terrain
  • Crop Circles
  • Human paralysis (Catalepsy)
  • Frightened animals
  • Interference with engines or TV or radio reception.
  • Lost Time: a gap in one's memory associated with a UFO encounter

Close encounter of the third kind

An observation of what Hynek termed "animate beings" observed in association with a UFO sighting. Hynek deliberately chose the somewhat vague term "animate beings" to describe beings associated with UFOs without making any unfounded assumptions regarding the beings' origins or nature.

Hynek did not necessarily regard these beings as "extraterrestrials" or "aliens." Additionally, Hynek further expressed discomfort with such reports, but felt a scientific obligation to include them, at the very least because they represented a sizable minority of claimed UFO encounters.

The UFO researcher Ted Bloecher proposed seven subtypes for the close encounters of the third kind in the Hynek's scale.

A: An entity is observed only inside the UFO
B: An entity is observed inside and outside the UFO
C: An entity is observed near to a UFO, but not going in or out.
D: An entity is observed. No UFOs are seen by the observer, but UFO activity has been reported in the area at about the same time
E: An entity is observed. But no UFOs are seen and no UFO activity has been reported in the area at that time
F: No entity or UFOs are observed, but the subject experiences some kind of "intelligent communication"

Close encounter of the fourth kind

A human is abducted by a UFO or its occupants.

This type was not included in Hynek's original close encounters scale. Jacques Vallee, Hynek's erstwhile associate, argued that a CE4 should be described as "cases when witnesses experienced a transformation of their sense of reality," so as to also include non-abduction cases where absurd, hallucinatory or dreamlike events are associated with UFO encounters.

Close encounter of the fifth kind

Named by Steven M. Greer's CSETI  group, these purported encounters are joint, bilateral contact events produced through the conscious, voluntary and proactive human-initiated or cooperative communication with extraterrestrial intelligence. This is very similar to some "contactees" of the 1950s who claimed regular communication with benevolent aliens.

Close encounter of the sixth kind

On Michael Naisbitt's website, a sixth proposed CE scenario is described as UFO incidents that cause direct injury or death. This category was not included in Hynek's scale, and is furthermore redundant: a CE2 in Hynek's scale specifically included UFO encounters that leave direct physical evidence of any kind.

Close encounter of the seventh kind

The Black Vault Encyclopedia Project proposes a Close Encounter of the Seventh Kind as human-alien hybridisation. This concept similar to ideas promoted by ancient astronauts theorists like Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin and Robert K.G. Temple, in that extraterrestrials interacted with, perhaps interbred with and influenced ancient human beings in the past.

This concept of CE7 is at odds with Hynek's original concepts, however. Hynek's CE3 specifically avoided describing UFO occupants as "aliens" or "extraterrestrials," contending that there was not enough evidence to determine if beings associated with UFOs had an objective physical reality, let alone to confirm their origins or motives.

Close encounter of the eighth kind

A Close Encounter of the Eighth Kind has been depicted in fiction by television shows such as X-Files, V (science fiction) KV, Alien Nation, Stargate: SG-1, They Live, and First Wave, CE8 refers to possible alien colonization. According to the ancient astronaut theory, extraterrestrials today are producing hybridised human beings to infiltrate key government positions throughout the world in an effort to:

a) continue the alien astronaut philosophy to assist humanity in what these extraterrestrials deem human infancy today and prepare the species for future endeavors,

b) control the world through a New World Order,

c) annihilate human existence for any varying reasons such as damages to the Earth itself or threats to the rest of the universe from human progress and thinking, or

d) a simply, malevolent species bent on eradicating all life other than their own.

Close encounter of the ninth kind

A Close Encounter of the Ninth Kind is termed Revelation. For a CE9 to take place, an extraterrestrial race would openly reveal themselves to humanity, forever lifting a veil of secrecy in regards to alien involvement in human affairs.