Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Corrected entry: There are many flaws in the logic and details of the aliens sending coordinates as a longitude and latitude in degrees, minutes and seconds. Firstly the units - 90 degrees in a right angle with 60 subdivisions and 60 sub-subdivisions is arbitrary and how would the aliens know that humans often divide angles like that? If they were being mathematically pure it would be natural to use units of radians. Secondly the origin of the coordinates - for latitude there is a natural choice of the origin, being the equator, so that makes sense, however for the longitude there is no natural choice of origin, and how would the aliens know that humans arbitrary choose the observatory in Greenwich, London, England as the zero meridian? Thirdly the order of the components of the coordinates - if the aliens knew so much about the way we do things to know about the above two points, why did they give the longitude as the first part and the latitude as the second part, when the human convention is to do the opposite? Fourthly the direction of the angle from the origin - why did everyone assume that the longitude was West and the latitude was North? Those coordinates could equally correspond to three other points on the globe.

Correction: Haven't you forgotten something? The aliens have had humans with them since 1945 (perhaps earlier) when they captured the pilots of Flight 19 over the Bermuda Triangle. These men were skilled and experienced Air Force pilots and navigators and they'd be able to tell ET and his mates everything they need to know about latitude, longitude, zero degrees going through Greenwich and so on. They made a couple of mistakes, sure, but it's new technology to them. It'd be surprising if they got it right first time.

Corrected entry: When Roy and Jillian are driving along the dirt track to Devil's Tower, they pass dead animals by the roadside, but we do not see any in the fields.

Correction: They had been placed there by the feds (and may have been merely unconscious) to fool people into thinking there had been a hazmat spill so that the area could be evacuated.

Corrected entry: In the final showdown, earth people are rightly amazed by their first confrontation with the alien spaceships and finally their passengers as well. But since they have (probably for years) prepared and trained a group of astronauts ready to attend the first alien/human space-voyage in history, why do they look so surprised every time a new "wave" of alien ships appear? Aren't they expecting or at least hoping that one of them would land?


Correction: They are surprised and amazed at the number and diversity of the different types of spaceships. They are also a little 'surprised' that they are actually seeing what they hoped they would find.

Vernon Gilmore

Corrected entry: In the scene where the couple is arguing in their home about seeing a movie, there is a boy in the crib trying to break a doll or something. That kid looks at least 4 years old. Isn't a 4 year old a little old to be in a crib? And you can easily tell that the kid would not be able to lay down completely in the crib even if he tried.


Correction: That is the little girl's crib, not the boys. He climbed into the crib by himself to be a pest. If you look after Richard Dreyfus yells at 'Toby' he stops breaking the doll and climbs out of the crib by himself.

Vernon Gilmore

Corrected entry: When Richard Dreyfuss throws in the plants for his sculpture of Devil's Tower, he breaks the kitchen window. After his wife and children have driven away, he closes the window, which now is not broken. (01:15:35)

Correction: The kitchen window over the sink is open the whole time. There is a plant in a vase on the windowsill that is broken when Dreyfuss starts throwing in plants.

Corrected entry: The old guy near the beginning of the film is whistling while he and others see UFOs flying down a road. The tune he is whistling is "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain." The better known title for this old dude's (Roberts Blossom) tune is "Happy And You Know It".

Larry Koehn

Correction: No, the song tunes are different.

Corrected entry: In the scene just as Roy, Gillian, and Larry take off for Devil's Tower, the army officer is on his car phone speaking to his superior. When his superior tells him if they don't get Roy and company off the mountain in one hour, to use EZ4. Lacombe, who was talking to David at the time, looks at the officer and says, "What's EZ4?". Lacombe should not have known what was said over the phone, as only the officer and we, the audience, knew what was being said. It wasn't a speaker-phone.

Correction: You don't always need a speakerphone to overhear something that is said on a phone. I've had phones where I could hear both sides of the conversation when someone stood nearby speaking on the call.

Corrected entry: When Ronnie hastily backs the car out of her driveway it smashes a Big Wheel to the opposite curb, where it comes to rest right next to the neighbor's driveway entrance. In the following shot, showing Roy getting up off the ground, the Big Wheel is a good 10-12 feet away from the driveway entrance. (01:14:25 - 01:14:55)

Correction: We never see the opposite curb when Ronnie backs out of the driveway, so there's no way to determine where the Big Wheel landed. It happens offscreen. Also, the Big Wheel is about a Big Wheel's width from the edge of the neighbor's driveway (*maybe* two feet), not 10-12 feet.

JC Fernandez

Corrected entry: The headline of the newspaper article spells Kidnapping as Kidnaping. (00:58:25)

Correction: My Unabridged Dictionary shows both spellings to be acceptable. See also

Bob Blumenfeld 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)

More mistakes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Project Leader: If everything's ready here on the Dark Side of the Moon... play the five tones.

More quotes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Trivia: After this movie, young Cary Guffey got to play the part of an alien himself - in the Italian movies "Uno Sceriffo extraterrestre - poco extra e molto terrestre" (English title: "The Sheriff and the Satellite Kid", 1979) and its sequel "Chissà perché. capitano tutte a me" ("Everything Happens To Me", 1980); both with the Italian actor Bud Spencer.

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
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