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Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Factual error: The aliens broadcast a series of pulses which are decoded by the scientists to be a longitude and latitude. In degrees:minutes:seconds, the longitude is 104:44:30 and the latitude is 40:36:10. These numbers are what the computer display shows and are what the scientists say (except for one slip-up in the hallway early in the scene where 104:40:30 is said). The scientists grab a globe and declare these coordinates are in Wyoming. Everybody and his brother (and the aliens) then proceed to show up at Devils Tower, Wyoming. However, Devils Tower is at around longitude 104 deg 44 min and latitude *44* deg 36min, not the *40* deg 36 min pulsed out by the aliens. If everyone had gone to 40 deg 36 min, they would have ended up in Colorado, more than a couple hundred miles south of Devils Tower, Wyoming.

Continuity mistake: The film starts in Muncie Indiana. There is a scene in the hills near the town. There are NO hills near Muncie, it's flat as a board.

Audio problem: Just before Toby closes his bedroom door while Roy and Ronnie are arguing, if you listen carefully you can faintly hear director Steven Spielberg telling him to close the door.


Continuity mistake: While Roy watches Barry make the mud mountain, its top is flat, but a frame later it's taller and peaked.


Continuity mistake: In Jillian's home, after the record player starts to play, she holds Barry against her right shoulder. A frame later he's on her left shoulder.


Continuity mistake: The morning Roy sees Devil's Tower on the TV, the beer on top suddenly disappears.


Continuity mistake: Before Roy takes the top of the clay-mountain off, the model has smooth sides. When he is about to tear it, it swaps to striped sides.


Revealing mistake: The morning after Ronnie and Roy's big fight, Roy starts cleaning up his clay "sculpture." Before he pulls its upper portion off, you can see the pre-made seam (which is poorly disguised by the clay) where the top is attached to the bottom. When he tears it off, the lower portion is perfectly smooth and flat on top (simulating Devil's Tower) where it was obviously pre-cut.


Revealing mistake: In the scene where Ronnie cuts out a newspaper article about the UFO sightings, the night after Roy's first glimpse of the UFOs, two identical articles on Star Wars (1977) are on either side of the UFO article.

Continuity mistake: During the scene at the landing site the number of people on the landing pad varies dramatically from shot to shot.

Other mistake: In the climactic scene at the end of the movie when the alien mothership flies over Devil's Tower and the base, there is a shot of the mothership's shadow creeping along the ground, enveloping the shadows of the crew there. It's a dramatic shot, but since the mothership was not between the ground and the light source (the stadium lights of the base) it should not be blocking out the light, or creating a shadow.

Continuity mistake: Roy is stalled in his truck at the railroad track. We see the mailboxes behind him burst open and all the mail comes flying out. Next shot, from inside the truck, the mailboxes are closed. Then another outside view shows them open again.

Jean G

Factual error: Parts of the scene where the brightly lit alien mothership passes directly over Devil's Tower are shot with the camera looking almost directly up, as would be the view from the people below. In these scenes, Devil's Tower remains totally dark despite having this huge light source directly above. The mothership is so huge that a shadow cannot explain this darkness.

Bruce Trestrail

Continuity mistake: Jillian's hair keeps swapping from messy to brushed and back to messy during her climbing down the rock and after hugging her son.


Continuity mistake: When Ronnie rescues Roy from the bathtub, a rope next to him disappears between one frame and the other.


Continuity mistake: While Roy and a crowd are gathering on the side of the road waiting for the aliens, a group of old men play cards on a table packed with food and drinks. When the angle changes (when Jillian meets Roy) one of the men has vanished and the table is empty.


Continuity mistake: As the mom and her son run into the kitchen of their house for safety the appliances start to shake. In the first scene with the stove, all of the pans are shaken off the top, but when they come back for a close up there are pans back on top.


Continuity mistake: After Roy makes a mountain with the mashed potato, the bowl has food coming out. Two seconds later, after Roy talks to his family, the food is gone, despite no one having touched the bowl.


Continuity mistake: As Ronnie backs out of the driveway, she knocks a Big Wheel across the road. She takes off as Roy falls off the hood and lands beside it. It disappears after he stands up and the angle changes.

Movie Nut

Continuity mistake: The mess next to the fridge differs between shots, the egg box flips over for example.


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If you have a trained eye you can see Darth Vader's ship and R2D2 from Star Wars, and several other bits of Spielberg-Lucas memorabilia.


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