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Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
John Williams
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks
Steven Spielberg's extraterrestrial-themed follow-up to the Jaws phenomena cemented his reputation as a cinematic wunderkind capable of shameless emotional manipulation and continued blockbuster ticket sales. But Close Enc...  more »


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All Artists: John Williams
Title: Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Members Wishing: 6
Total Copies: 0
Label: Varese Sarabande
Original Release Date: 11/16/1977
Re-Release Date: 9/14/1990
Album Type: Soundtrack
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks
Style: Easy Listening
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 030206527520

Synopsis essential recording
Steven Spielberg's extraterrestrial-themed follow-up to the Jaws phenomena cemented his reputation as a cinematic wunderkind capable of shameless emotional manipulation and continued blockbuster ticket sales. But Close Encounters (whose soundtrack is now gratifyingly back in print on Arista) also displayed Spielberg's wise confidence in at least one of his collaborators. Composer John Williams, fresh from the Wagnerian success of Star Wars, was allowed the unusual luxury of composing much of the Close Encounters score before principal photography began. Thus Spielberg was able (as had Sergio Leone with Morricone's Once Upon a Time in the West) to stage much of his action to the Williams music playing on the set in a rare way. The entire special-effects finale was in fact edited to match the composer's rhythms. For his part, Williams composed arguably his most ambitious and accomplished score. Balancing his more obvious sentimental skills with refreshingly bracing doses of atonality (and just a nod to the modern Ligetti pieces Stanley Kubrick had wedded so well to 2001: A Space Odyssey). Williams produced a mature work that holds up remarkably well 20 years on; a true classic. --Jerry McCulley

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CD Reviews

Best film soundtrack ever...
Thomas Glebe | Pittsburgh, PA United States | 08/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Though I have many complaints and quibbles with the various "versions" of the Close Encounters of the Third Kind movie, this is wonderfully conceived and put together and there's no need for any other soundtrack versions at least of CE3K.A lot of soundtrack releases based upon motion pictures often get it wrong. There are always considerations of what music from the film to keep in or out. This is not such a problem with movies that have a dozen or more "pop hits" in them, or classic musicals and broadway type stuff. But in a soundtrack like Close Encounters, there is only the music in the film (all versions) from which to draw material. It is a pleasure to announce that almost ALL of John William's BEST work ever, in my humble opinion, is ON THIS ONE CD. But wait, there's more!Unlike previous treatments of the music in Close Encounters (from vinyl to 8 track to cassette to CD), not only is there a ton more music here than previously released, but it is arranged in an amazing manner. Though there are many individual tracks, almost all of it proceeds in a symphonic whole. And while it generally follows events in the movie, there are detours along the way that are a pleasant surprise. It is great on repeat or random mode.John Williams is a composer of many fine movie scores, but is especially associated with Star Wars. Rightfully so, as his work for those films is great. But back in 1977, he not only did the soundtrack to Star Wars, but Close Encounters as well. While even casual music fans know many themes from Star Wars, the five note sequence in CE3K is about all that's memorable for most folks. But dive into the wonder and magic and power of the music on this CD, and hear what you might've missed from the film.While this work stands alone as a symphony with the best of composers of all time, including the classics, fans of the movie itself, and especially those who've seen it several times, will love this. There are many little touches here that will bring back memories of the film that were both subtle and sublime. As one who has listened to this soundtrack since 1977 in all its forms, I applaud the producers of this treatment. There had always been musical moments from the films missing, but not here. Everything is here, and it's all great.John Williams uses almost every style imaginable here, every orchestral instrument being used to create alternative moods of doom and the scary and unknown, to rousing, joyous chorus voices mixed with dozens of instruments. Part Star Wars, part 2001, the music here is an awesome ride all the way.There are a few liberties taken here, and parts of this were not in the film but seem arranged for this CD especially, but everything works beautifully. While John Williams will probably always be better remembered for Star Wars, Jaws, ET and other soundtracks, in my view, the glorious roller coaster ride of his music for Close Encounters will always remain my favorite. And there are really no need for anymore music from the movie CD's at this point. They got it right with this one, and it just doesn't get any better than this.Even if you don't care that much for the film(s) this music comes from, if you've never heard this work of art in its entirety, you're missing something. And for fans of John William's other work who've never heard a lot of this also (apart from the visual experience of watching the movie), you're in for a pleasant surprise.An amazing musical trip. Get it!"
Why fix it if it ain't broke???
Eric F. | Long Island, USA | 09/08/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND is my favorite Steven Spielberg film of all time, so the music is always great to listen to, but even the most perfect things in this world can be needlessly screwed with.

The problem with re-releasing it in its sequential order is that without the transitional blending of one piece into the next, as it was on the original 1977 soundtrack, is that each piece is now too short. Just as you really start to enjoy a particular cut, its over. You find yourself taking more notice of the breaks in between rather than the cuts themselves.

Also, on this CD, you get the final end credits as it was written for the 1980 special edition, which in my opinion, is inferior to the original 1977 ending.

As a movie and soundtrack purist, I'm afraid I also have this beef with the original STAR WARS trilogy soundtracks, which were re-shuffled for the 1997 special editions. I'm glad I still have STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in their original form, both on vinyl and cassette (STAR WARS on CD, too). Lucky me! Never bothered to get RETURN OF THE JEDI, though, because it pretty much rehashed the same cuts that were already from the first two films."
Arguably Williams' best
G. Kroener | Bamberg, Bavaria Germany | 01/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Second only to Star Wars because of its historical importance, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind remains John Williams' most remarkable effort.
From hard to soft, from creepy to downright haunting, from mysterious to shocking, from thematic grandeur to terrifying cacophony, practically everything you can do with a symphony orchestra is presented here.
And not only that; John Williams defined alien music for generations to come.

Presented here is the full score in chronological order, plus alternates and unused cues, and it was about time.
What John Williams managed to do to the film and the listener is outstanding: there has never been, nor will there ever be a score that is so strange and dissonant, but so fascinating, powerful and capturing at the same time.
I don't know where Williams dug up all those playing techniques and writing styles, sometimes so abstract that you'd think it would be impossible to incorporate them into a coherent piece of music, but Williams did it; and you just can't detach yourself.

What fascinates me most about Close Encounters is the way dissonance and harmony full of awe are combined. John Williams would write fast aleatoric, almost incomprehendable violin passages, and suddenly slow, huge sounding tuba lines come in underneath to illustrate the arrival of the aliens. Out of the cacophony, suddenly an emotional horn line would emerge. You can hear this approach for instance in "The Mothership". I think hearing one of these cues with the film in mind is one of the most chilling moments someone can experience; this truly is the power of movie and music.

One of the best cues on the album is the track "Wild Signals", written in a call-and-response manner. This piece accompanies the scene in which humans and aliens are communicating via music (which is such a touching idea itself) and Steven Spielberg actually edited the movie in a way so that it would fit the music.
This track also introduces the main theme for the film, the five-note motif that NASA now sends out into the space to look for extraterrestrial life.
There is a handful of other themes, all featured in the final 12 minute track that is in my humble opinion one of the best cues ever written for film. The thematic and choral beauty is so overwhelming; and the terrifying, yet awe- inspiring alien music transforms over the course of the piece into something friendly and pure, until the main theme is sung by a boy choir.

It's not only the technical aspects that make Close Encounters so outstanding, it's first and foremost the emotions you feel when you hear it.
Just like in the film, there's always a sense of mystery in the air; you can't put your finger on it, but there's always something in the air.
The movie, and much more so the music, make you yearn. You believe it, you long for the great mystery. This score will change the way you look at the evening sky forever, so be prepared; it might never let you go!