Close Encounters of the Third Kind

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

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

Sacha Premium member

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: 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.

Sacha Premium member

Other mistake: When Richard Dreyfus rushes to the street to grab the trash can as the trash truck is coming down the street, his family is the only one on the block that has their trash cans out. It's obviously trash day and many of the houses are yet to be serviced by the approaching trash truck. (01:14:30)

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

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

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

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.

Continuity mistake: When Roy first encounters the alien ship at the railroad crossing, when the bright light comes on, he leans out of the truck window, and the right side of his face is exposed to the light. Therefore, it is the right side of his face that should have been burned. Subsequent shots show that the left side of his face is burned. (00:21:00)

DavidCBohn

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: Roy shields the right side of his face with the hand holding the torch so that it's not exposed. His left side is not covered so it gets burnt.

How could the left side of his face get burned, if it's not exposed to the light?.

DavidCBohn

Continuity mistake: In the alien departure scene at the very end of the film, a solitary alien exits the mothership and approaches Francois Truffaut, who extends his right hand directly towards the alien and makes the Five Tones hand gesture. The camera cuts to another angle half-way through the gesture, and we see that Truffaut is now looking sharply to his right, over his extended arm, and smiling broadly at the alien as he completes the hand gesture. Apparently, Truffaut's body and extended arm pivoted 90° away from the alien mid-way through the 2-second gesture.

Charles Austin Miller

Revealing mistake: When the gigantic mother ship appears and sweeps over the rendezvous base at Devil's Tower, the camera cuts to look straight up at the advancing craft as it blocks out the starry night sky. Watch carefully to see some stars passing right through the leading edge of the mother ship, revealing a flaw in the traveling matte effect.

Charles Austin Miller

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.

Sacha Premium member

Continuity mistake: In Sonora, a man introduces himself as a cartographer and walks 5 meters away from a crowd. When the angle changes he's barely half a meter away from the crowd.

Sacha Premium member

Continuity mistake: While being blinded by the UFO, Roy grabs his flashlight from the round part next to the ligh bulb. Half a second later he is grabbing it from several centimeters below.

Sacha Premium member

Revealing mistake: The huge UFO opens its door and a brilliant light comes out, but from the opposite angle, the reflection on the people's glasses is a black landscape and a tiny spot of light.

Sacha Premium member

Continuity mistake: During the meeting between people and the Government the stuff on the table keeps moving between shots: the bowls that the guy slides trough the table, the tray with a glass bottle, and the book in front of Roy.

Sacha Premium member

Continuity mistake: When Roy wakes up his wife to tell her about the UFOs, the pink tissue paper in the box behind swaps from lying flat to standing up between shots.

Sacha Premium member

Continuity mistake: In Sonora, the scientist walks towards some Mexican officers standing by a stone wall, and a wooden fence is ahead. A frame later, they're standing next to an iron spring and a wicker basket that have appeared out of nowhere.

Sacha Premium member

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

Sacha Premium member

Continuity mistake: When Roy is driving to Devil's Tower he is about to crash against two cars. From the opposite angle the cars are different.

Sacha Premium member

David Laughlin: Have you recently had a close encounter?

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

Question: I would really like some insight on a burning question I have had since seeing this movie as a child in 1978, when it came back around in theaters in eastern Canada, where I grew up. Not knowing much about American history in school, I didn't know at the time that there even was a Devil's Tower, or that it had been made the first US National Monument in 1906, and as such would have been famous to all American citizens. I still remember loving the psychic element in the film where our heroes agonize internally about the strange mound shape seen only in their heads, to be finally rewarded and deeply relieved with news footage later in the film which solidified their visions into something tangible and concrete (igneous rock actually!) Thus, as a boy knowing nothing about the tower in Wyoming, this part of the film played perfectly into the fantasy for me-it sold me all the way. But why or how did this work for Americans at the time the film was new? In the film, we are to believe that our adult heroes knew nothing of the tower before their initial close encounters, and were shocked to discover that it actually existed. Again, for me, Devil's Tower was an absolutely incredible and awesome choice, and made me love the film all the more for it. But I would like to know how Americans felt about it during the film's 1977 and later 1980 re-release? Was it just as awe-inspiring for them as well, or was it more like: "Duh-you're driving your family crazy making models of a natural rock formation everyone knows is less than 90 miles away from Mount Rushmore?" I would really appreciate an answer, because for me, the tower's news-footage "reveal" was a huge moment in the film, and really does provide the kick-start that launches the entire third act of the film. For American audiences, why was it not the same as if Roy had struggled to attach a garden hose under a hastily-built plywood model with a hole in the middle, because the aliens implanted a vision of "Old Faithful" in his head?

Answer: "Devil's Tower" is, indeed, a national landmark. However, it isn't one of the most famous, nor most iconic. It isn't nearly as widely known as, say, the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi River, Niagara Falls, or the landmarks you mentioned - Mount Rushmore and Old Faithful Geyser. But, as you stated, its imposing form does fit so nicely into the aura of the film's alien encounter. Devil's Tower isn't something everyone knows by shape. And for those of us who do, it doesn't require much suspension of disbelief to posit that the characters in the film wouldn't have put it together prior to the news footage.

Michael Albert

Answer: Devil's Tower really is out in the middle of nowhere, and in one of the least populated states (it's "only" 90 miles away from Mt. Rushmore, but it's an incredibly boring 90 miles of mostly empty plains) so it didn't make for a convenient tourist attraction like other landmarks and thus didn't garner as much fame (it's actually much more famous nowadays, thanks to this movie). That said, the movie seems to have cleverly provided two separate "reveals" for this plot turn: those familiar with Devil's Tower will recognize it when Richard Dreyfuss knocks the top off his sculpture, giving it the distinctive "flat top" shape; then, only minutes later the rest of the audience will discover it along with the characters during the news broadcast. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this was set up deliberately keeping in mind the landmark's status of "kind of famous but not really THAT famous."

TonyPH Premium member

Your explanation (and the other answer) helps makes the overall plot more understandable. The French scientist, Lacombe, mentions that there were probably hundreds of people who were implanted with the Devil's Tower image in their minds. As pointed out, it is not a particularly recognizable landmark, which would explain why many never made the connection to it.

raywest Premium member

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