Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
July 30
Close Encounters of the Third Kind November 16, 1977
Close Encounters of the Third Kind opens

Thirty-three years after its opening on November 16, 1977, you can still hear those five notes. For Close Encounters of the Third Kind, his follow-up to Jaws, Steven Spielberg asked composer John Williams to compose a musical phrase that would represent mankind’s attempt to communicate with the aliens responsible for a rash of UFO sightings. Williams reportedly chafed at the five-note limitation, wanting at least seven or eight notes to work with. But Spielberg argued for five, citing the letters in the word “hello” as inspiration. The scorer went on to listen to “When you Wish Upon a Star” as inspiration for what would be one of his most memorable soundtracks. As for the film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is one of the director’s best, a weird fusion of the UFO-mania of the time, religious symbolism, and the loopy narrative integrity of a sci-fi obsessed teenage mind. (The film had its origins in a script Spielberg wrote while a teen.) In the Chicago Reader (http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/close-encounters-of-the-third-kind/Film?oid=1068469) Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, “For better or worse, one of Steven Spielberg's best films, and perhaps still the best expression of his benign, dreamy-eyed vision. Humanity's first contact with alien beings proves to be a cause for celebration and a form of showbiz razzle-dazzle that resembles a slowly descending chandelier in a movie palace..... Very close in overall spirit and nostalgic winsomeness to the fiction of Ray Bradbury, with beautiful cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond that deservedly won an Oscar. This is dopey Hollywood mysticism all right, but thanks to considerable craft and showmanship, it packs an undeniable punch.”


More Flashbacks
Richard Linklater July 30, 1960
Richard Linklater born

Richard Linklater may be turning 50 today, but the Austin-based writer-director's continuously inventive brand of filmmaking will always represent a time associated with youth.

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July 30, 2007
Michelangelo Antonioni dies

Awarding him a career Oscar in 1996, Jack Nicholson said of the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni, “In the empty, silent spaces of the world, he has found metaphors that illuminate the silent places of our hearts, and found in them, too, a strange and terrible beauty: austere, elegant, enigmatic, haunting."

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30 July 1970
A Dark Director

Christopher Nolan, the director currently the toast of the town for his all-conquering box office smash The Dark Knight, made his way into the world this week in 1970.

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