'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' turns 40: Steven Spielberg in exclusive featurette talks making of sci-fi classic

Steven Spielberg‘s 1977 blockbuster Close Encounters of the Third Kind had a lasting effect on science-fiction film dramas, opening the genre up to more accessible, emotional stories (including his own E.T. a few years down the road). After a brief return to theaters in early September, the alien-encounter drama is receiving a 40th anniversary home video release on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray, available today. The new edition of the film includes a featurette called “Three Kinds of Close Encounters,” which features new interviews with Spielberg and directors J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek) and Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) about the film’s legacy. Watch an exclusive clip above.

In the clip, Spielberg credits the authenticity of Close Encounters to the fact that every actor involved — including stars Richard Dreyfuss and Teri Garr, child actor Cary Guffey, and film legend Francois Truffaut — was essentially playing a version of him- or herself. “They weren’t playing characters that they had never experienced before, that they had to research,” the director explains. “Richard Dreyfuss came to do a role that he knew intimately, which was to put himself in Close Encounters.”

Coming off his first major film, Jaws, Spielberg was unbearded and full of youthful enthusiasm. “We were just a bunch of young people — some of us were even kids! — all working on something that we couldn’t wait to show our friends,” he says.

In addition to the new interviews, the new edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind includes Spielberg’s never-before-seen home movies and outtakes, and three versions of the film (the 1977 theatrical version, the 1980 special edition, and the 1997 director’s cut).

Watch Ryan Gosling photobomb ‘Blade Runner 2049’ co-star Harrison Ford:

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