Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Plot hole: The aliens provide coordinates for a place to make a rendezvous with humans but do not specify a time. It's possible they're monitoring and will arrive when they see enough humans gathering at Devil's Tower, but the humans seem to expect the aliens to come more or less exactly when they actually do, somehow.

TonyPH Premium member

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Suggested correction: Scientists were prepared for the aliens and knew when and where they would arrive, as seen by the extensive complex built at Devil's Tower. However, as Claude Lacombe, the French scientist, speculates towards the end, hundreds of humans may have had the Devil's Tower image recently implanted in their minds, saying they were "invited" but never made the connection. Neery figured it out and was compelled to go there at that time. Neery was then allowed to join a group of trained volunteers that were already prepared to go on the ship, while the previous "abductees" were being returned to Earth.

raywest Premium member

The aliens had not given a time to meet. The scientists may be taking it on faith that the aliens will know that they've arrived at Devil's Tower and are ready, but the way the subject of timing is left unaddressed on screen feels like an oversight.

TonyPH Premium member

We don't know for certain if the scientists were given a specific time, but it appears they were, or at least a general window. The long-lost objects, like the ship and the military aircraft, suddenly showing up in the desert, is an indication the process has started. If humans were given the precise location where the alien ship would arrive (Devil's Tower), then, logically, the aliens would also communicate when. The scientists were communicating with the aliens using tonal sounds. Early on, the scientists received map coordinates through dish satellites as repeating pulses. They would likely receive time information the same way. As often happens in movies, this info may be something that got edited out of the film, causing an inconsistency.

raywest Premium member

This might be one of those edge cases. Under most circumstances I'd agree we could assume arrangements were made off-screen by virtue of the fact that the rendezvous occurs successfully in the first place; but in the context of this movie, in which any and all forms of contact with the aliens is treated as profound and significant, leaving it unaddressed (not even with a line of dialogue) comes off like a plot hole. I suppose we'll just have to let our fellow website readers decide.

TonyPH Premium member

Other mistake: One visual that has always bothered me that I could not find in your list were the scenes when the mother ship first appears. It's enormous scale appears to dwarf Devil's Tower and the whole surrounding area actually, but when it moves over to the "landing strip" area and begins to rotate 180° (right-side up?), it suddenly seems to shrink to a much smaller size and mass during the slow revolution. On its originally-seen scale above/behind the tower, one would think that either the great ship's outer prongs would have been torn off, or more likely the impromptu landing site and most of Devil's Tower would have been destroyed as the huge craft rotated itself. The visual scales just do not stay consistent throughout the film's climactic final act.

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.

Sacha Premium member

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. (00:46:23)

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. (00:24:30)

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. (01:55:08)

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

Visible crew/equipment: When the little boy is looking out the window of the farmhouse toward the sky to see the incoming spaceships (where he says "toys" rather excitedly), as the camera closes in toward him you can see the shadow of the camera/crane on the right side of the screen. The shadow changes as the camera zooms in. (00:49:55)

Factual error: Early in the movie there's a scene that takes place at the FAA air traffic control center. As the film's other scenes are set in Muncie, Indiana, this ATC center is presumably (and correctly) in Indianapolis, yet, after the UFOs nearly collide with the TWA and Air East flights, the controllers are talking about "restricted area 2508". The "real" R-2508 is actually out in California/Nevada.

Continuity mistake: When Richard Dreyfus has his first UFO encounter at the railway crossing, all the gauges in his truck go wild and the contents of the glove box comes flying out. After the encounter finishes, and the vehicle's power comes back, Dreyfus starts the engine and drives off. Miraculously, the interior of the truck has tidied itself and restored the glove box contents to their proper place. (00:21:30)

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.

Sacha Premium member

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.

Sacha Premium member

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.

raywest Premium member

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.

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Suggested correction: The articles aren't identical, they are continuous. I read them. Only the title, "wars" is identical.

Revealing mistake: When the UN team arrives in the Gobi desert, there's one shot where the helicopters and trucks are parked. They're supposed to be moving, but you can tell from the way the flags are moving that the wind is only coming from the helicopters.

Dr Wilson

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. (01:05:00)

mightymick

Factual error: When Barry first appears in the middle of the road, you can see the constellation Orion in the upper right of the scene. From mid-northern latitudes, Orion is visible in the evening from October to early January and in the morning from late July to November. The scene looks like a summer evening and if it was the morning Orion would not be that high in the sky.

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. (00:56:00 - 00:57:00)

drahm2007

Character mistake: When Ronnie is cutting the article about Roy's encounter out of the newspaper, the title of the article begins with "UFO's...", the apostrophe making it possessive. It correctly should have been "UFOs...", with no apostrophe making it plural as intended.

Kit Sullivan

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Suggested correction: You are incorrect. The article is actually correct. It is used as a contraction, not a possessive. http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/apostrophe.html.

It's not a contraction. A plural acronym is simply "s" added to the acronym. An apostrophe never indicates plurality.

Charles Austin Miller

Suggested correction: There is no standard on how to pluralize acronyms and either way is acceptable, depending on a person's preference. An apostrophe does not automatically make something possessive, such as using apostrophes in contractions to replace missing letters.

Bishop73

Project Leader: He says the sun came out last night. He says it sang to him.

More quotes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Trivia: Spielberg wanted to use the music When You Wish Upon A Star from Disney. It can be barely heard in the original film score in 1977. John Williams later put a very clear version in the closing credits in the Special Edition version and in the current DVD and CD.

Larry Koehn

More trivia for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Question: Why were the aliens abducting people and why did they bring them back?

Answer: It wasn't definitively answered, but it appears the aliens took people in order to learn more about humans. It's unclear if all those who were returned had originally gone willingly, but the intent was not to keep them indefinitely or harm them, and they were returned to Earth, albeit many decades later. At the end, after the aliens had made contact, a new group of humans, including Roy, went with them voluntarily.

raywest Premium member

More questions & answers from Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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