Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ok. I tried to find the video...

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.
The screenplay (finished by Spielberg from an original script by Paul Schrader) was based upon the book, The UFO Experience (1972), written by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who served as the film's technical advisor (and appeared in a bit cameo part during the final scene). The highly personal, expensive project of Spielberg's was first released for Columbia Studios in 1977 - then, a re-edited theatrical Special Edition, authorized by the director himself, was released three years later in 1980, with some tightening of the original version [cutting the scene in which Roy Neary throws dirt into his family's house to recreate his vision of the mountainous mound] and some additional scenes - mostly footage of Neary's entrance into the interior of the giant spacecraft at the film's conclusion. Spielberg also released a 'director's cut' version in 1998, and a 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition in 2007.

Fourth Close Encounter: Muncie, Indiana
A Close Encounter of the First Kind

In a Muncie, Indiana suburban home in Middle America, blue-collar lineman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is playing with a toy train set in the center of his family's living room. [A music box plays Jiminy Cricket's theme song: "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Disney's Pinocchio (1940).] The television is playing the four-hour movie, The Ten Commandments (1956) - because of its length, Roy is going to allow his children to see only half of it: "I told them they'd watch only five." His wife Ronnie (Teri Garr) answers a phone call from foreman Earl, who asks for Roy - one of his power company technicians:

Neary, listen to me now, get over to the Gilmore substation. We have lost the power up and down the line. There's a drain on the primary voltage. [The lights go out.] We've lost half the transformers at the Kennedy substation.
Lights throughout town begin to go dark as the progressive power failure spreads quickly across the power grid. Soon, the entire area has been engulfed in darkness. All the alarms blink as Roy briskly enters the Department of Water and Power substation to investigate the source of the power drain. Reports are flowing in about the massive power-cut: "Crystal Lake is dark...Tolono is completely gone." One of the technicians recommends a strategy to deal with the failing system: "Let it all fail. Let it all fail. We'll pick up the pieces later after it's fallen." A temporary supervisor thinks that's impossible: "I got reports of vandalism on the line. I got eight 90-megawatt lines down all over." Neary is knowledgeable about the Crystal Lake area: "There's no wind, normal tension for the sag is 15,000 pounds per wire." So he is appointed, without regard to seniority, to go to Crystal Lake because he worked there as a journeyman a few years earlier.

As Neary prepares to leave, another report shows how serious the problems really are: "Got a fresh impedance coming up. It's not an overload. It's a drain. Lines M-Mary ten through M-Mary fifteen. And Municipal Lighting is asking to be cut free." The supervisor replies: "You tell Municipal Lighting we're going to candle power in ten minutes."

Meanwhile, Jillian searches desperately for her son near their home, using a flashlight to guide her way. Distraught, she calls out: "Barry! Barry!"

In a memorable scene (an encounter with a UFO spacecraft), Roy is lost on the road en route to Crystal Lake when sent to investigate a power blackout. He chuckles to himself: "Help, I'm lost." While his face is buried in a roadmap to get his bearings, he sees a set of bright lights approaching from behind his truck. Without looking, he casually waves on the car, and is reprimanded: "You're in the middle of the road, you jack-ass." He proceeds to a railroad crossing and pulls to a screeching stop to once again check his map. Another set of bright lights approaches behind him - they illuminate the interior of his truck with brilliant light. Again, he waves the vehicle past while engrossed in studying his map. But instead of going around, the intense lights rise straight up like a rocket above his truck.

The first indication that something isn't right occurs when his flashlight catches sight of a row of rattling, jiggling mailboxes moving back and forth like they were in an earthquake. Suddenly, his flashlight, radio and other electrical lights shut off. From above, his truck is bathed in blinding, powerful rays of luminescent light. An array of colorful lights overwhelms his sight, and a deep-toned, thunderous, musical vibration envelopes his truck. There is an apparent loss of all gravitational force - the railroad crossing signal rocks back and forth, the electrical system indicators in the cab dashboard go haywire and smoke, and debris flies randomly around the interior of the cab. And then, just as suddenly as it began, the vibrations and rockings of the visitation cease, and the lights blink out. After all the commotion, the stillness is deafening - a lone dog barks off in the distance.

Roy trembles, leans forward, and peers upwards through his windshield, glancing at a gigantic, slow-moving, flying object in the night sky. For an instant, a narrow beam of intense light shines down on a stop light further down the road. He nearly suffers a heart attack when his flashlight suddenly turns back on. His truck's engine, radio, and electrical system instruments all begin functioning again. He tunes in to a flood of reports about fantastic sightings and other UFO encounters:

•I don't believe this. It's big as a house.
•It's crazy, shaped like a barn.
•It's just off the Tolono Expressway, heading east toward Harper Valley.
Trembling, but interested in pursuing the unidentified phenomenon, Roy takes off in pursuit without a second thought. The moon's light casts an ominous shadow of the UFO over his infinitesimally-small truck as he drives through the rural countryside. Excited by his experience, but not knowing the meaning of his new-found obsession, he recklessly races through the night toward Harper Valley.
In another area of the greater Muncie, Indiana landscape, little Barry has wandered away from home and trekked down the center of a remote country road on a hilltop - Crescendo Summit. He comes upon four simple folk in a family - they are peaceful and friendly - inexplicably drawn to watch the skies. The father is whistling in familiar anticipation: "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain." The little stranger timidly waves at them. At that moment, Jill scrambles up from the side of the road and spots Barry - but he is in the path of Neary's fast-moving truck speeding around the bend. Jillian dives and tackles her transfixed son to save him from being hit in the truck's path. Roy races to them after braking and fighting his truck for control - he apologizes: "I'm sorry. I didn't even see him. He was just standing right in the middle of the road."
And even as these events are transpiring, one evening in Muncie, Indiana, the city is suddenly blacked out by an inexplicable power outage. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is at home when it hits, and he is called in by the power company for which he works, then sent out in the darkness to an unfamiliar location. Lost, he sits in his pick-up truck at a railroad crossing, studying a map, when all at once he notices a "disturbance" around him. Mailboxes along the side of the road are clanging open and shut by themselves; then things inside his truck begin to move, subtly at first, then erupting and flying about as if caught up in a tornado--and then just as suddenly his truck is engulfed in a blinding light. He leans out the window for a look, but it's too bright and he has to pull back. Then just as abruptly, it all stops-- the disturbance, the light-- everything. And he looks out the window again; but this time he sees something. And though he doesn't realize it at the time, at that moment, his life changed forever.

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