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. (00:46:23)

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.

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.

Factual error: When Roy discovers that he has built a model of Devil's Tower as a result of an ABC news broadcast by Howard K. Smith, the remote reporter on site refers back to the anchor as "Walter" (Cronkite, as proved during Roy's interrogation), who worked for CBS, not ABC. (CBS did not allow Spielberg to cast Cronkite, and the dialogue was not redone to account for Smith).

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 Premium member

Factual error: Roy has the TV on during the creation of the Devil's Tower model. The show Days of Our Lives is on. When it cuts away, a Budweiser commercial comes on. Beer commercials are never on during daytime weekday soap operas. Then the news comes on and it's ABC news. Days of Our Lives is on NBC and always has been.

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.

More mistakes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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: 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.

More trivia for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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