The extraterrestrial evolution of Steven Spielberg

A celebrated breakthrough in film deserves recognition after 40 years.

Vic Silva, Writer

Steven Spielberg: celebrated pioneer, authentic content-creator and all-around visionary of our current film era. A visionary who clearly saw aspects that necessitated each other to create a beautifully-crafted and gripping story. All of which include relatable actors, fully fleshed-out characters, an original plot and aliens, obviously. Okay maybe that is not such an obvious requisite for the making of a phenomenal film, but Spielberg definitely found the subject rather fascinating. We can find ample proof of this in his groundbreaking film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” With its 40th year anniversary re-release on Sept. 1, curiosity for Spielberg’s evolution of extraterrestrial interest began to develop.

anxiety-ridden suspense

In 1977, this film dawned as totally new material. Spielberg had just started his Hollywood career, thus still trying to make a name for himself. In the new “Close Encounters” director’s cut edition, he explains how he and his cast found themselves excited to show the public their first big project, all awaiting on their toes for this impactful, funny project to release. As loopy as the subject material might have been, this came as close to their real selves as they had ever played.

What present-day alien films delve into the raw family dynamics of a real family? Today’s alien films include unbelievable aspects, whether that includes their unrealistically indestructible protagonists or their subpar plots filled with unfulfilling character foils. In “Close Encounters,” you get the hurrah of suspense and anxiety-ridden waiting for the “close encounter” to fully take place but the endearing quality of the film has nothing to do with the aliens. It has everything to do with its characters beginning to quickly go crazy for answers. They become miserable in their wanting to know more and in this state begin to turn their family’s lives upside down. Despite this beautiful depiction, I found myself a little bored, quite frankly. For its time, it certainly has innovation and comedic relief but during the last hour I found myself restless and waiting for the much-awaited climax, and when it finally came it hit as severely underwhelming.

Spielberg’s filmmaking evolution

The climax can have a redeeming quality to it when viewed as a part of Spielberg’s filmmaking evolution, especially within the extraterrestrial field. This evolved filmmaking lended itself to “Super 8,” written by J.J. Abrams, and produced by Spielberg. Although Abrams wrote this masterpiece, Spielberg remained influential due to his extensive portfolio and knowledge on making a solid supernatural film. While “Super 8” and “Close Encounters” have many similarities, such as a gorgeous soundtrack and lovable characters, “Super 8” stands out with its magnetic energy. This thrilling energy kept audiences on the edge of their seat for the entire three-hour film. I did not squirm with impatience because the picture before me held me captivated. Rather than having an elongated wait for one exciting climax, the movie contained several surprising twists and turns. All of that to say times have changed severely since the 70s, but Spielberg’s voice remains loud and clear amongst the Hollywood of today. He has proved himself to be quite the contender, allowing Hollywood the privilege to have just a little more movie magic.

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