To this day, I’m always kind of shocked by the scenes filmed in India in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, mostly because they are so different than anything else in the movie. When we think about Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters, the first image that jumps into our heads is probably one of Richard Dreyfuss’ Roy Neary trying to make a scale model of Devil’s Tower out of his mashed potatoes. But with the release of the new 40th anniversary 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, for me, that’s changed – because, now, watching in 4K, those scenes in India pop off the screen to the point I audibly said out loud, “Oh my.” One scene in particular, of Lacombe (we don’t talk enough about the fact that François Truffaut is in this movie) and Laughlin (we don’t talk enough about the fact that François Truffaut and Bob Balaban basically made a buddy movie together) in the foreground, and hundreds of Indian extras in the background just comes alive in a way that almost tricked me into believing I was there. Every single detail of everyone on screen looks impeccable. This is why I invested in 4K.
I wrote about this a few weeks ago, that I went back to buying physical media for a whole host of reasons: two reasons being that there’s more selection and, strangely, the price of a Blu-ray has gotten pretty inexpensive – often being less expensive than buying its streaming counterpart. But, mostly, it’s quality. Streaming can look pretty great, but nothing can top the look of physical media, if that’s something that a person cares about. And there’s something fun about it again. Watching a new 4K disc like Close Encounters of the Third Kind feels like an event because there are so few older movies available in the format yet and the whole things feels niche. It’s kind of reminiscent of the way LaserDiscs used to be. I don’t get to be a snob about a lot of things, but I do like being a snob about what my movies look like when I watch them at home. I see now why people enjoy being snobby about things. It’s fun to feel superior about one specific thing that no one else really cares that much about, while also alienating friends and family. I can’t recommend it enough.