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‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’: Communicating with the Mothership | Light and sound #adabox10 @adafruit

When I think about the impact that light and sound working together can have on a movie, my mind immediately jumps to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, especially the scene where they are communicating with the mothership. The genius of John Williams’ score coupled with the breathtaking visual effects is nearly impossible to forget.

Last year, for the film’s 40th anniversary, Rolling Stone took a look back at what made the film such a wonder, and so important in cinema history.

How do you follow up a record-breaking blockbuster about a killer shark? For starters, you get out of the ocean. And then maybe you look up.

A longtime watcher of the skies, young Steven Spielberg had already been kicking around an idea involving alien visitation, spacecraft “sightings” and government cover-ups – some sort of story, in the gentleman’s own words, about “UFOs and Watergate” – before he had started turning Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws into a movie. One three-men-and-an-apex-predator hit later, he was a hot Hollywood director who had folks ready to sign on for whatever he did next. That included Columbia Pictures, as well as Taxi Driver producers Michael and Julia Phillips, who gamely took the director’s extraterrestrial-visitors story and got him a greenlight. The result both delighted his patrons – Fox had opened a space opera earlier that year, hence the company was thrilled to have their own science fiction movie on deck – and worried them, given this expensive project was supposed to have come out the previous summer before production problems caused delays. Now, the film was going to make or break the nearly bankrupt studio.

The climax, however, also seems to anticipate what will come next in blockbuster movies: the idea of wowing someone into submission. It’s common knowledge that Spielberg didn’t want to film the “special edition” scenes of Dreyfuss entering the ship; in an interview recorded for the movie’s 30th anniversary, he insisted that what lay inside that gigantic vessel should be “the province of the viewer’s imagination.” While it’s great to think of Douglas Trumbull’s hallucinogenic take on Noah’s Ark as a time-capsule piece – see what cutting-edge FX once looked like, kids! – they are completely superfluous. We’ve been given everything we need to supply our own wonderment already. And we were about to enter a whole era where such overwhelming spectacle reigned supreme.

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The upcoming ADABOX 10 is a multi-sensory feast of light and sound. All throughout the month of November we’ll be posting up what inspired us to create one of our favorite ADABOX yet that YOU can get delivered in December if you sign up now! Give ADABOX as a GIFT or treat yourself to sonic and photonic goodness.


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