YMMV: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Roy a lovable everyman on a grand spiritual journey, or a selfish, unstable jerk who abandoned his wife and children?
  • Awesome Music: The communication music has forever been associated with films about aliens. Also, the score is done by John Motherfucking Williams. Case closed.
    • For reference, the communication music is known as "Wild Signals."
    • Listen carefully for musical Shout Outs to Jaws (when the mothership is communicating with the Devils Tower base) and Pinocchio (when Roy is being led into the ship).
    • The "voice" of the mothership was done by Jim Self, a legendary tuba player in his own right. Spielberg used him because the skill and difficulty of playing the tuba gave the mothership a "human" characteristic.
  • Ear Worm: Bah bi bah bom baaaaaaa. That is all.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: The film can be interpreted as a metaphor for a spiritual awakening and journey: An ordinary man (Roy Neary) has an experience with a higher power (encounters UFOs on the highway one night) that completely changes his life (he becomes obsessed with UFOs) and is subsequently compelled by this higher power (through an implanted mental image) to make a pilgrimage to a predetermined location (a road trip to Devil's Tower, Wyoming) where he communes with the higher power (takes part in First Contact with the aliens) and is ascended into the heavens (departs with the aliens after being chosen to join them). In addition, Roy gets sunburned by the UFOs during his initial encounter. In keeping with the spiritual awakening metaphor, the sunburn can be interpreted as the mark of Roy's symbolic baptism from normal everyman to alien contactee.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Six years after Close Encounters was released, Colorado suffered a real toxic-gas spill following a train crash that forced an emergency evacuation, much like the cover story that was used in the film to justify evacuating the Devil's Tower area.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The humans who enter the mothership at the end are dressed in red jumpsuits and sunglasses, which in hindsight look like cheap versions of the aliens' outfits from the original V miniseries (in which the aliens did not turn out to be cuddly, friendly greys).
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Compared to The X-Files. Which came along sixteen years later.
  • Values Dissonance: New Age faith in alien intelligence as a benevolent Higher Power, and in the sterile void of space as Heaven, doesn't resonate much any more, to say nothing of the hatred that comes down these days on a parent who abandons his family to pursue some other goal. That last point has been rather controversial, though, to say the least.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The spaceships are still pretty damn impressive.