Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 American sci-fi/drama film directed by Steven Spielberg. The movie tells the story of a large-scale extraterrestrial visitation at Devils Tower, Wyoming. It also tells the stories of several characters who get caught up in the chain of events leading up to the aliens' visit. The plot focuses specifically on Roy Neary, an electrical line worker who has a close-range encounter with a UFO; and Jillian Guiler, whose young son is abducted by aliens. They are both compelled to create images (Roy in sculpture, Jillian in sketches) of a mountain which they eventually learn is Devils Tower. Roy and Jillian then travel to Devils Tower and see the aliens arrive and release a large number of abductees, including Jillian's son. Roy goes aboard the aliens' mother ship and leaves with them when they depart Earth.
The movie was a box office success and was nominated for eight Academy Awards. The movie's five-note theme, which is used to establish communication between humanity and the aliens, was quickly ingrained into popular culture and became one of the most recognized musical memes in cinema. Also, due to its prominent role in the movie, Devils Tower became inextricably linked in popular culture with both the movie in particular and the UFO phenomenon in general.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind has been referred to several times in Simpsons media.
||"Homer's Night Out"
||At the strip club Mud City, a sign outside the door reads "Close Encounters of the Mud Kind", a reference to the movie.
||"Three Men and a Comic Book"
||Bart attends the 12th Annual "Close Encounter of the Comic Book Kind" Convention.
||"Homie the Clown"
||While contemplating going to Krusty's Clown College, Homer obsessively sculpts a circus tent out of mashed potatoes at the dinner table. In the movie, Roy Neary develops a similar obsession with Devils Tower, sculpting it in various media, starting with mashed potatoes at the dinner table.
||"The Springfield Files"
||The episode contains several references to the movie:
- Lisa reads a copy of Junior Skeptic Magazine that has a picture of Devils Tower on the front cover.
- Agent Scully has a picture of Devils Tower on the wall of her office at the FBI.
- On Channel 6 News, Kent Brockman reports on Homer's videotape of an "alien" and derisively refers to it as a "Close encounter of the blurred kind".
- The whole town turns out for the anticipated third appearance of the "alien", similar to a scene early in the movie where a bunch of people wait by the side of a road for flying saucers to appear.
- While the townspeople are waiting for the "alien", Mr. Largo has several members of the Springfield Elementary School Band play the movie's five-note theme.
- Just before the "alien" appears, clouds gather over the woods the same way as they do over Devils Tower before the mother ship arrives.
||"White Christmas Blues"
||The DVD Claus Encounters of the Third Kind is a pun on the movie and a visual callback to the theatrical release poster.
Common Cast and Crew
||Role in Close Encounters of the Third Kind
||Role on The Simpsons
||Received a "Special Thanks" credit for the use of "Chances Are" on the movie's soundtrack.
||Voiced himself in the Season 26 episode "Bull-E".