In Steven Spielberg's film, Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), a power repairman in Muncie, Indiana, has a series of close encounters with UFOs. As he tries to work out his feelings about these experiences, his life is completely upended. Alienated from his wife (Teri Garr), who can't understand what he is going through, Roy teams up with Jillian Guiler (Melinda Dillon), a widow who has also seen UFOs and is looking for her missing son. The third major figure in this thriller is Claude Lacombe (Francois Truffaut), a French scientist who is leading an international investigation of UFOs. What they experience is not as important as what we see through it.

Spielberg has covered all fronts in trying to make this a technically brilliant movie. Douglas Trumbull (who created the special effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey and his own stirring film Silent Running) is the mastermind behind the "visual concepts" in Close Encounters of The Third Kind. The director of photography is Vilmos Zsigmond, and the music is by John Williams (Jaws, Star Wars).

This is a movie to boggle your mind and stimulate your senses. And although he saw it primarily as a thriller, Spielberg said he hoped the film would spur more serious investigations of UFOs.