Excuse me if I ramble in this review, but this film means a lot to me. 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' is one of the first films I remember seeing at the cinema with my family as a kid. From subsequent viewings, I believe I saw the later edition with the extended Mother ship scene, although I've seen both versions so many times since, I can't be completely sure. What I do recall is how deeply this film resonated within me. More than any other, this film gave me my love for the cinema, and for sci-fi films in particular.
I've owned this film so many times - I have the DVD, the Anniversary Edition blu-ray with the light-up case, and the 4K. So why did I spend part of my day off and watch an SD version of this film on a 4k TV? Because Wraith has cobbled together the most complete version of my favourite film I am ever likely to see.
Taking off my nostalgic glasses for a moment, I can see that 'CEot3K' in any of its iterations is not a perfect film. Spielberg admits that it's a film that dates him, and that he would not have a father leaving his children behind were he a father himself back when he made it. It is an odd inclusion, especially as Spielberg captures childhood so well in many of his films, and this one in particular. (The child actors are extraordinary here across the board.) The ships themselves are still amazing to my eyes, but the aliens - particularly the spindly one - don't hold up so well anymore.
This edit, too, is not perfect either, but it's as near as dammit. The deleted scenes are necessarily & noticeably lower quality than the rest of the film, which are beyond the scope of improvement even with Wraith's skills, but I would have liked to have seen some more of the red tint removed from many of them. What does work on the whole, though, is the transitions from a deleted scene to a theatrical one, especially with a seamless and, I assume, added soundtrack (the edit from Roy on the roof to the evening meal is a good example of the skill on display here). The deleted scenes are inserted in logical places on all counts except one, where we see Roy buy gas followed by a theatrical scene which ends with him stating they need some. They are a couple of audio anomalies - two back-to-back scenes early on (Gillian searching for Barry in the woods and Roy getting lost on the road) had very noticeable echo, and there were occasional volume changes in the soundtrack in places (just before Neary enters the ship at the end is one I remember).
Overall, though, this edit took me right back to my childhood and why I left the cinema wide-eyed and, yes, staring up at the skies, wondering what was up there. For that, I thank you.
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyMay 01, 2021
Thank you so much for that. It is very generous of you especially given that this appears to be a review of the WORKPRINT version. I have revised the HD version of the edit to correct an inherantly poor ORIGINAL music transition as Neary walke up the ramp. There is also now a SPECIAL FEATURE added which, due to there being some dislike regarding the SPECIAL EDITION addition of the the Mothership Interior, I have also made a version WITHOUT this one scene, but everything else still in the edit. This should give you two more versions to watch :)
I got a chance to see Wraith's CE3K edit collection and I am very, very impressed. Spielberg's 1977 sci-fi film is a classic and this makes it even more of a wonder. This collection is a fanboy's dream, maximizing the thrill and awe Spielberg's film portrays.
I view CE3k 2-3 times every year as a tradition and have seen practically ever version available. The '77 Theatrical, 1980 Special Edition, every re-release in theaters and even all the home releases including the VHS, laserdisc, DVD, Bluray and recently the 4K release. I try and pick up different things each time. Sometimes they're noticeable and others not. Sure each new restoration brings forth something new, but they're all the same intended versions in the end.
Now with Wraith's presentation, it all comes forth in a fascinating and literally original way. A way that brings extra magic in the mix. I am thrilled to add this into the forefront of my vast cinema experiences. :)
As Roy Neary contemplated ..."This means something. This is important." And in reference to this edit it means even more.
Wraith has put together a unifying one stop shop for those for whom this film touches a deep nostalgic note. The grading overall feels like cinema - Like film indeed, and the little fixes made along the way smooth out even the bolted on Special Edition finale. The coalition of all scenes not in common with each release stops you wondering what to expect - "which version were we watching again?". I don't favor the SE ending personally, but it needs to be included here. The grading used to add vibrancy to the closing scenes are very in keeping with 35mm film projection as it looks in an auditorium. In places it was a little bright and grainy for me, but it was the editors passion to emulate his experience in the cinema and it is certainly an improvement on the trend for fogged highlight detail in hi def releases these days. The re-introduction of contrast for this edit was a net gain all round.
The world Speilberg created back then stands up as a world I wish still existed, even if it didn't reflect the real world in the first place - it is the vibe cinema is capable of and brings me back for more, just for the details and cultural references, the timbre and atmosphere.
The inclusion of the workprint is a welcome luxury, but the tidiness and ...well completeness of the Complete Edition makes it a very worthwhile go to.
Owner's replyMay 08, 2021
Thanks you so much for that/
I would add that an alternate "Complete" version WITHOUT goinginto the mothership is now also available due to that scenes unpopularity .
I found this in MP4 format, so I copied it to a USB stick and played it off my Blu Ray player's USB slot. I projected it on a 100" screen with a 4K projector with a DD7.1 audio setup. It's been long enough I couldn't automatically pick out what Wraith had added back to the film/integrated to the film,. There were a few noticeable frame skips/jumps that I later realized were probably related to lower quality scenes that Wraith added. I think this is a compelling edit of the film, worth the download and if you're a fan (which I am, ever since first seeing it around 1981 or so. My parents did not bring me to see it in theaters unfortunately. That was Star Wars' release year which I DID see in the theaters). This movie engenders a feeling of wonder in me, especially because of some of teh actors involved. Dreyfus really is compelling in his compulsion and the relief and wonder he shows at the end. The extra bits added in didn't seem to make any narrative issues and seemed to be worth it.
My only negatives on this are that the sound mix was lackluster. Not only did I have to push the volume a lot, but there was little in the way of use of the surrounds that I could hear. It wasn't terrible, it just wasn't as good as I would have hoped.
Thanks so much to Wraith for all the hard work.
Do you recommend this edit?
Owner's replyJune 27, 2021
Hi and thanks for the review. There is not a lot one can do about the audio since it is a straight passthrough of the original mix throughout. It looks to me like you may have viewed the workprint, but maybe not. I just wanted to note that since there is no audio mixing on this edit; it's just straight scene insertions throughout.