Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

55 mistakes

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

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Sacha

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.

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Sacha

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Sacha

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.

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mightymick

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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Dr Wilson

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.

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drahm2007

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.

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Jean G

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.

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raywest

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.

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

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Sacha

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.

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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.

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Sacha

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.

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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).

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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.

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Sacha

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.

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

Suggested correction: Actually the tricycle is in the shot at 1:14:55 - 1:14:56. It is behind a tree to the very left of the screen and you can see the right rear tire and the back of the seat.

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.

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Sacha

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.

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Sacha

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.

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Sacha

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.

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Sacha

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.

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Sacha

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.

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Sacha

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

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Sacha

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

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Sacha

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.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: Roy meets Jillian and then walks away to look after Barry. In the next shots with the kid, Roy's hair is longer and messed up.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: In India, Claude asks the Guru where the sounds came from, while a huge crowd walks along the desert. When a man in blue addresses the crowd to ask them, the crowd on the right side is gone, and the ones on the left aren't walking but standing perfectly formed like an army.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: When Ray first arrives at Devil's Tower and stops the station wagon, the broken fence post resting on the hood changes positions between shots. In the view of him through the wind shield, the post is lying straight, parallel to the length of the wagon. In the next shot, it is suddenly at an angle, even though the car hasn't moved.

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Jean G

Audio problem: 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. [The army officer was using a VRC(vehicle radio console.) Not a cellular phone. The radio has a speaker mounted on the front of the console in addition to the speaker in the handset. So everyone would be able to hear the conversation on the radio. ].

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Continuity mistake: When Roy is shoveling dirt through the window he leaves his shovel on the wheelbarrow. When he comes back three seconds later, the shovel is in a different position.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: When Roy says to Ronnie, "I saw something last night that I can't explain.," and he bridges his arms across the door frame his forearms are parallel to the ground. In the following shot, when Ronnie straightens up, Roy's forearm points upward.

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Character mistake: When Roy is heading toward Devil's Tower in his car, you can hear a radio report. The man says something about the Tetons and then mentions the town of Meteetsee. He says "Meh-test-ie." That's the incorrect pronunciation.

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manthabeat

Continuity mistake: The pattern of shaving cream on Roy's face changes during the scene in which he gets fired.

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manthabeat

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.

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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.

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Charles Austin Miller

Continuity mistake: When Barry is taken from the house, just before that happens we see a grate get blown out of the floor and it lands on its side. In the next scene the grate is back in the hole, but at an impossible angle, even if it fell in.

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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.

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Charles Austin Miller

Continuity mistake: When Jillian's kitchen goes wild, the heater's lids fly off and reveal some red foam which ends up breaking and making a hole. A frame later from a new angle the foam is fixed.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: Roy is about to run Barry over with his truck and stops on the side of the road. The position of the papers on the dashboard changes between shots.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: Ronnie says "It's one of those things" and Roy follows her with his hand filled with shaving foam. In the next angle the amount of foam on the right hand is bigger.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: When Roy and Jillian meet, the redness on Roy's face keeps darkening or lightening randomly between shots.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: When Barry walks outside the house and his mother calls him, from the shots inside she is surrounded by curtains moved by strong air. From the opposite angle the curtains are gone.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: While the first UFO is blinding Roy, he protects his face. The distance between his hand and his face, and the expression on his face, keep swapping back and forth depending on the angle.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: When Roy leans towards the steering wheel to watch the UFO, the position of his hands over the wheel changes between shots.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: In Jillian's house, when the aliens launch the floor vent it lies on the right side, half a meter away from the hole. A frame later it's lying skewed on the hole. Should the aliens have moved it, a sound would've been heard.

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Sacha

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.

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Sacha

Continuity mistake: The mashed potato that Roy serves himself swaps from stiff to creamy between one shot and the other.

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Sacha

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