How Accurate Is Close Encounters Of The Third Kind Really?


As returning readers of this blog might know, I’m a big sci-fi movies fan. Also, I’ve been interested in UFOs (Unidentified Flying Object), aka UAPs (Unidentified Arial Phenomena), my entire life.

So I thought it would be fun to revisit Steven Spielberg’s classic movie Close Encounters Of The Third Kind from 1977 (available on Amazon here) and compare it to information that has leaked or been declassified from official government sources now almost 45 years later.

How close is Close Encounters of the Third Kind to the reality we’re presented now?

How much does Steven Spielberg actually know about aliens and UAP considering his multiple portrayals of aliens in his films?

After all, this is the guy who has worked as either producer or director on such as Firelight (1964), E.T. (1982), *batteries not included (1987), Men In Black (1997), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), and War of the Worlds (2005) as well as numerous television shows involving extraterrestrials.

And IS Spielberg an alien?

Let’s see if we can find out (warning: spoilers ahead!)

Getting up to speed on the UAP phenomenon in recent years. A supersonic overview.

I’ve never really pursued the UFO community because I found that it quickly led to one of two things: one, a wall of silence as you approached government or military Non-Disclosure Agreement walls or, two, tinfoil hat stories by crazy people. I didn’t want to spend my life on a wild goose chase.

I also got tired of watching one show after the other, all telling the same old stories. Most of them seemed to follow the same formula. They all talked about the Roswell UFO crash and the Rendlesham Forest incident and spiced it up with the abduction story of Benny and Barney Hill and the obligatory skeptic.

Sure some of the stories were compelling, but they always led nowhere and had zero answers.

It’s always the same dead ends, or unsubstantiated abduction claims repeated again and again. And the skeptics’ attempts to debunk everything are often more far-out than the UFO stories themselves.

A shift in the public discourse

However, since the article Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program in the New York Times from 2017 by Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal, and Leslie Kean from 2017, a lot has changed.

Finally, there was a tiny crack in the otherwise hermetically sealed official government reporting on this phenomenon.

So I thought that now was a good time to revisit the UAP phenomenon. And I’ve been following the blossoming UAP debate in the mainstream media ever since that pivotal article.

The Congress getting in on the action

The shift is perhaps most evident with the 25th June 2021 preliminary assessment report on UAPs made available to Congress and the public. Well, at least the non-classified version is.

It’s also evident with the recent proposal for a permanent UAP office under the Defence Secretary, which you can find in the House of Representatives’ lengthy fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.

And, of course, it is evident with the surge of released declassified videos under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), including the gimbal, FLIR, and Gofast videos, and the stories told by pilots such as Commander David Fravor about the Tic Tac ufo during the USS Nimitz incident.

Just have a look and listen to the stories of some of the pilots who saw UAPs with their own eyes in this special from CNN’s 60 minutes:

Lots of high-quality info on UAPs is available online

I’ve been watching a lot of podcast interviews online with people like Luis Elizondo, Chris Mellon, Ross Coulthart, Jacques Vallée, Bob Lazar, David Fravor, and Richard Dolan. And I think it’s safe to say that the cat’s out of the bag.

Now, if you’re not up to date on all of these events, I urge you to check out all the links, and I’ll see you back here in a couple of years. Or you can watch some of the amazing documentaries on the topic that has been released in recent years.

I will also highly recommend you read – or listen to – the book In Plain Sight by award-winning investigative journalist Ross Coulthart (which you can find on Amazon here).

Coulthart provides a great breakdown of UAP history and presents qualified assertions about covert crash retrieval programs and reverse engineering programs based on interviews with high-ranking secret sources with top-secret clearances.

So if you’re entirely new to the topic, you’ll get the most out of this article if you do a bit of research first and get up to speed on who the persons and events I’ve mentioned are.

So with this very brief overview, let’s start discussing the realism in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). A Brief Introduction.

In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a group of scientists led by Claude Lacombe (François Truffaut) investigates a series of mysterious reappearances of aircraft that had disappeared without a trace years ago.

All the pilots are also missing.

It becomes even weirder when the team comes across a ship in the middle of the Mongolian desert.

Cut to Indiana electrician and family man Roy (Richard Dreyfuss), who encounters a UFO while investigating large-scale power outages. An image of what turns out to be Devils Rock in Wyoming is planted in his brain, and he becomes obsessed with finding out what it means.

Meanwhile, other “chosen” people experience the same, not at least Jillian Guiler (Melinda Dillon), whose only child is abducted by aliens early in the movie.

Now begins a race between the scientists, the chosen few, and the military to decipher an extraterrestrial message and find the time and place to meet up with the aliens.

That’s the basic plot in the movie. And it might sound like the plot for any other sci-fi film.

I find intriguing the number of details about the UAP Phenomenon in the movie, which has turned out to be confirmed or declassified in recent years.

It raises the question: what does Spielberg know? And where did he get his information?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind very close to reality

My curiosity was further triggered by a recent interview with the former leader of the Pentagon’s secret UFO program – the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) – Luis ‘Lue’ Elizondo. In an interview with GQ Magazine, Lue is asked what movie he finds depicts UAPs most accurately, given what he knows. Lue states:

I would have to say Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. I just recently saw it for the first time and I was shocked at some of the performance characteristics and how they depicted the UAPs, because that is exactly how they’ve been described in some, up until recently, very classified US documents.

[…] The description of how they do right-angle turns at very fast velocity, the illumination, the shapes of some of these craft. [Steven] Spielberg definitely had somebody on the inside that was giving him information, for sure. I mean there’s a lot of that movie that, if you know what you’re looking at, is very, very close to real life.

Source: This man ran the Pentagon’s secretive UFO programme for a decade. We had some questions.

Let’s contemplate that quote for a bit. Here are three things worth considering:

  1. Lue Elizondo, the former head of the Pentagon’s secret UAP program, is amazed by the depiction of UAPs in Close Encounters of the Third Kind because they match the description in classified US documents.
  2. Lue asserts that Spielberg “definitely had somebody on the inside that was giving him information”.
  3. Lue says that there’s a lot to Close Encounters that is very, very close to real-life “if you know what you’re looking at”.

His statement certainly raises some questions:

  1. What is it about the depiction of the UFOs in the film, that matches how they’re described in the classified documents?
  2. Who was this person on the inside that was feeding Spielberg information – if any?
  3. What should we be looking for in that movie that could be very close to real life?

Below I’ll do my best to try to find an answer to these questions. I’ll probably miss a bunch of “UFO Easter eggs”. So if you’re know anything you’d like to share, feel free to do it in the comments section below the article.

Let’s start by having a closer look at how the UFOs are depicted in the film.

The Depiction of UAPs in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Five Observables

Luis Elizondo and his team in AATIP collected data from reported UAP sightings and induce the five observables, i.e., five distinct characteristics of observed UAPs.

The five observables are:

  1. Hypersonic velocity, which is the speed of Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) and above. Russia and China have developed weapons that can fly around Mach 5. But UAPs are observed flying much faster than that.
  2. The ability to change direction instantly, i.e. changing direction at high speeds. Fx UAPs are observed doing 90, or 180 degree turns at insane speeds, pulling up to 4-600 G forces without losing any lift. In comparison, trained fighter pilots can withstand about 9 Gs before blacking out, and our best aircraft can withstand about 16 Gs before being torn apart.
  3. Low observability – or cloaking. I.e., the UAPs appear to be able to conceal themselves. They also seem capable of jamming our radars.
  4. Trans-medium travel, i.e., the ability to travel from space into our atmosphere and into the oceans (and back) without problems.
  5. No discernable propulsion technology, and no exhaust trails. Human-built planes and rockets all work by sending something out the back to create thrust and move forward. This creates a heat signature. Even our battery-powered drones create a heat signature because batteries get warm. But the UAPs have no exhaust and no heat signature. They even appear colder than the surrounding environment. This has led many researchers to speculate that the UAPs are powered by an anti-gravity engine or warping of space-time.

The five observables in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The depiction of hypersonic velocity and the ability to change direction instantly appears multiple times throughout Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I also find it interesting how the crafts can fly very slowly and turn on their side, which is also a recurring observation and even seen in the Gimbal video.

The same is somewhat valid for trans-medium travel – at least when the UFOs travel from outer space and into our atmosphere and back again. I don’t recall any depiction of the UAPs in the movie traveling into or in the oceans.

Here’s a video showing thermal imagery of a UAP that follows the US Omaha and then disappears into the water:


We also see no discernable propulsion technology or exhaust trails from any of the extraterrestrial crafts in the movie.

And I find it curious that when the mothership lands near the end of the movie, the teams on top of Devils Tower are warned that they might experience “low gravity,” dizziness, and static charges near the ship (around 1h:52m).

Also, the UFOs all give off a low humming sound and wooshes by, which also matches UFO witness accounts.

Low observability or cloaking is not depicted in a way that matches what I’ve heard pilots describe in recent years.

That being said, I do find it interesting that when we see the UFOs arrive in the final scene, one of the crafts looks like a shooting star at first, but then stops in the night sky looking like a regular star, and then instantly changes direction (around 1h:39m).

I’ve read multiple articles about UFOs could disguise themselves in the sky as stars or travel to Earth as shooting stars, or hiding in meteor swarms.

Fx the night before the famous Ariel School incident in Zimbabwe where around 60-100 kids came very close to a landed UFO and even saw aliens, there was a meteor shower, and UAPs was spotted other places in Africa “hiding” in the swarm of meteors.

In Close Encounters, the UFOs can create clouds to conceal themselves (around 1h:44m). It’s not the same as turning on an invisibility cloak or jamming a radar, but it does suggest an intention to remain invisible in the movie. I’ve never heard of the creating of clouds regarding UAPs, though, so let’s skip that one until we get any data suggesting that this might be the case.

Other hidden facts in Close Encounters may have a root in reality

Here’s a list of other things I find peculiarly close to the reality of today’s UAP discussion, which again makes me wonder how much Spielberg was actually briefed on this topic. And are some of these what Lue referred to when he said, “I mean there’s a lot of that movie that, if you know what you’re looking at, is very, very close to real life.”?

Pilots won’t report a close encounter with a UFO

At the movie’s beginning, we hear the broadcast from two airplanes that encounter a UFO. The pilots won’t report the UFOs. We watch from a flight control room and hear how two different planes encounter the same UFO in the sky. However, when the incident is over, none of the flight crews want to file an official report.

This is incredibly true to reality. Ever since the policy of the US government to debunk, reduce to prosaic explanations, and ridicule all UFO sightings, which was implemented with Projekt Blue Book in the 1950s and 1960s, it had become tabu to talk about UFOs within the military, navy, and airforce as well as the mainstream media and scientific institutions.

This is one of the most effective disinformation campaigns I’ve ever heard of, which has to make you wonder: why? What are they trying to hide?

Luckily, this has begun to change, as military and commercial pilots are now encouraged to report UAP sitings for the data to be collected and analyzed.

UAPs traveling as a single light – then splitting up into more

A couple of times in the movie, we also see a single moving object in the sky, splitting up into several smaller objects. This also happens at the example mentioned before with the UFO “posing” like a shooting star 1h:39m near the end.

I’ve heard this talked about again and again in interviews with people, who claim to have seen UFOs with their own eyes, so I find it interesting that this is in the movie as well.

UFO shooting beams of lights

Multiple times throughout the film, we witness the UFOs shooting beams of light down to Earth – as if to search for something and seed something in the minds of the witnesses.

This is another exciting thing that has been reported repeatedly in UFO-sightings – though for many different purposes.

Sometimes witnesses say it seemed like the UFO was looking for something or someone on the ground.

But other times, UFOs have been known to disable or power up nuclear weapons in the US, Russia, and the UK. They seem to have a keen interest in our nuclear weapons.

In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, there’s no connection to nuclear weapons. But the beams of light are apparent throughout the film, and they seem to turn off the electricity. This is another common thing reported in UAP-sightings with cars and watches suddenly stopping and the witnesses losing track of time.

Radiation burns

The people who get close to the UFOs in Close Encounters of the Third Kind all experience radiation burns, i.e., they look like they got sunburned.

This has been told repeatedly by witnesses, the Falcon Lake Incident from 1967 in Canada and the  Cash-Landrum Incident from the US in 1980 probably being the most known.

However, what I find most interesting is that pilots who fly close to UAPs report experiencing the same thing combined with a feeling of dizziness and warped space-time (lost time). The latter is also well known from many UFO sightings, but it isn’t depicted in the film if I remember it correctly.

Altered consciousness

In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a select group of people all have their consciousness altered. They all become obsessed with this image of Devil’s Rock in Wyoming, although the vision is not immediately apparent to everyone.

Altered consciousness is also reported repeatedly and ranges from a lost sense of time, sleep paralysis to cases of telepathy with warnings of the dangers facing us on this planet if we do not change our way in regards to polluting and warfare.

The most compelling case, in my view, is the Ariel School Incident, but it is also reported in numerous abduction cases.

The S4 hand-scanner

Another weird fact is that you can see a top-secret hand scanner called the Identimat, which Bob Lazar claimed he had to use whenever he had to go to work at S4 for a beyond top-secret program to try to understand and reverse-engineer the technology in crashed UFOs.

If you haven’t already, you should see the excellent documentary Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers by Jeremy Korbell. You should also visit this interview with Lazar in Joe Rogan:

Now, there’s a long discussion about Bob Lazar and his credibility, which I’m not going to go into too much here. Regarding the hand scanner, this is a chicken and egg kind of thing.

Had Bob Lazar seen it in the movie and then used it in a made-up story? 

Or is Lazar’s story true?

I think it might actually be true because so much of what he has claimed since the 1980s has turned out to be true.

In any case, you have to wonder how Spielberg got a hold of that particular hand-scanner which has been confirmed to be used in Area 51 and S4 in the 1980s (and probably more of the adjacent test ranges). And why is it in a 1977 film if the hand scanner technology was still highly classified in the 1980s?

Maybe it’s because it wasn’t so top-secret. After all, an article in a 1971 issue of Computerworld mentions the Identimat 2000 – without any photos. But it’s still interesting that Steven Spielberg chose this particular device.

Lockheed and TRW boxes

In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when the military and scientists prepare the base on top of Devils Tower, you see some cargo boxes on the ground. And two are prominent in the foreground, where one says Lockheed and the other TRW.

If you’re into ufology, you’ll know that many arrows point to these two specific companies. And many speculate that these two companies are in possession of crashed UFOs and are trying to reverse-engineer their technology.

It might be one of the reasons why disclosure is so tricky because how can you explain to the American public that these two companies have gotten an unfair advantage over the rest of the aerospace industry?

And how can you explain that they might have made very little scientific progress because of the secrecy and compartmentalization, when, in contrast, the world might be in a much better state if the alien technology was allowed to be examined by a much larger group of scientists?

It’s one of the reasons why some – like Ross Coulthart – have advocated for a sort of amnesty.

You might even speculate that government change of stance regarding the UFO phenomenon in recent years is a way to bring some of these projects into the light in a controlled drip-by-drip disclosure.

But I’m being carried away here.

The point is that it is interesting that Spielberg chose to put these two specific aerospace companies in the foreground.

TRW has since split up into several new groups.

One of the groups is the defense contractor Aerospace Corporation, which employs none other than the brilliant astrophysicist Eric W. Davis, who used to work for the Pentagon. Davis has been outspoken on and in favor of UAPs as being extraterrestrial visitors. What exactly he’s working on now is classified, though, but it does make you wonder.

So how could Spielberg know all of this? Well, one reason is that he hired former Project Blue Book Scientist J. Allen Hynek as the movie’s scientific adviser.

Getting Insider Knowledge From J. Allen Hynek

Much of the credibility to the depictions of the UAPs in Close Encounters of the Third Kind is probably because Spielberg hired Astronomer J. Allen Hynek.

J. Allen Hynek, who worked with the United States Air Force on Project Blue Book, was hired as a scientific consultant. He even appears in the movie near the end on top of Devils Tower (around 1h:58m).

According to, this was because Spielberg drew a lot of inspiration from Hynek’s 1972 book The UFO Experience (available on Amazon here). Hynek felt that Spielberg drew a little too much on the book, so Spielberg hired Hynek and gave him a cameo near the movie’s end.

Project Blue Book hired J. Allen Hynek as the scientist in charge of the investigations. But he was forced to officially debunk the UFO sightings as all having prosaic explanations, even though he had plenty of insider knowledge that suggested otherwise.

According to the same site, NASA even wrote to Spielberg warning him not to release the movie because it was too dangerous:

“I really found my faith when I heard that the Government was opposed to the film. If NASA took the time to write me a 20-page letter, then I knew there must be something happening.”

It was also Hynek who coined the UFO classification system, where a close encounter of the third kind means that you get to see an alien.

No doubt hiring Hynek gave Spielberg access to a front-row seat lecture about the UAP phenomenon.

But Hynek wasn’t the only UFO researcher Spielberg encountered.

In fact, the French character Claude Lacombe (François Truffaut) is based on famous researcher Jacques Vallées.

Consulting with Jacques Vallée

Jacques Vallée is a veteran investigator into the UAP phenomenon and is still investigating it to this day. From what I know, he is – among other things – currently studying samples from alleged UFO crashes and is going to have the reports peer-reviewed.

It marks another turn into the investigation of the phenomenon. Such analyses have either been done under NDAs in secret programs or by individuals who weren’t keen on having their results peer-reviewed – most likely because their samples and experiments were hoaxed.

In an interview with Jacques Vallée and producer and director of the excellent documentary The Phenomenon (2020) James Fox on the Joe Rogan Experience (#1574), Vallée tells the story of how he helped Spielberg with the scene where the scientists get a globe to try and calculate where the UFOs will land.

In the same interview, Fox reveals that he once tried to get an interview with Stephen Spielberg himself.

Now, Fox never got that interview. But he got a note from Spielberg who said Fox should look into the Ariel School Incident.

Unfortunately for Fox, he initially dismissed this important case and didn’t think about it for ten years because he thought it was too incredible.

But luckily, Fox included licensed footage in his documentary that consisted of interviews with a lot of the school children by famous psychiatrist John E. Mack. And what the children tell is incredible.

This again speaks favorably of Spielberg’s interest and vast knowledge of the UAP phenomenon.

Closing thoughts

There’s no doubt that Spielberg has tremendous knowledge of E.T.’s and UFOs. And the fact that he consulted with the likes of Hynek and Vallée during the movie’s production is probably why Close Encounters of the Third Kind is considered by many to be one of the most realistic depictions of UAPs in any fictional film.

There are other things, like the shapes of the UFOs (from triangles to saucers and diamonds), that also seem to match witness accounts. But these were well established even before 1977, so I didn’t include them in the list of items above.

Another curiosity that I haven’t touched upon is the depiction of the aliens themselves. I find it interesting that we first see a preying mantis-like alien looking out at the humans and then disappearing into the ship. After this alien has scouted the terrain and the gaping humans, all the little grey aliens appear.

According to some ufologists, there are different races, and the ones looking like a praying mantis are the top dogs, and the small greys are not as powerful or advanced.

Now, I won’t go too much into this either because I like to stick to whatever data I could find that was declassified and confirmed and compare that to the movie.

Until the Pentagon or a government release a photo or video of any of these aliens and prove them to be the real deal, getting into the taxonomy of alien species is pushing it. But who knows?

There are probably more things in Close Encounters of the Third Kind that I’ve missed, so if you’ve spotted some stuff that seems to have a root in confirmed data of the UAP phenomenon, feel free to share in the comment section below.

As I wrote at the beginning of this article, I’ve never really been a part of the UFO-community, because I didn’t want to go on a wild goose chase.

Every time I saw something on the news or in tv documentary shows about the UAP topic, it always led to either a closed-door or some crazy crackpot story by an unbelievable subject.

However, after the recent years of semi-disclosure, it seems more likely that the wild goose chase was not the UAPs and the covert reverse engineering programs but the official disinformation campaigns from the US airforce, three-letter agencies, and private aerospace contractors.

It speaks volumes when someone like Lue Elizondo says (when asked about if there’s been recovered biological materials in the GQ Magazine article referenced earlier):

“I am respectfully going to pass on that question. There are a couple of questions that I’m really not at liberty to discuss. That’s one of them.”

Why on Earth (no pun intended) is he not at liberty to discuss this – unless the reason is that there is something to it!?

Luckily, recently there have been some great documentaries on this topic, which I’ve covered here.

I hope that we’ll see full disclosure on UAPs and USOs soon and that it will help unite – instead of dividing – the human race.

I hope a disclosure will lead to significant scientific breakthroughs for the good of our planet and a better understanding of our humble place on this speck of dust floating around in the vast universe.

And I should probably also attempt to answer the big question of this article: IS Spielberg an alien?

Absolutely! My guess is one of those reptilian overlords who rule mainstream culture, government, and media.


1 thought on “How Accurate Is Close Encounters Of The Third Kind Really?”

  1. I was traveling through ky a few years back, I pulled off exit 129 in central ky a few miles past lexington, as I got back on the expressway I noticed many police cars with lights blocking all traffic on the highway, only a few miles I saw a very large ship or craft hovering over the highway, it looked almost exactly like speilburgs depiction of close encounters spaceship, it was large enough to put 3 Goodyear blimps inside it, I parked and shut off my car and no engine sounds , it had the stacks on top of it that looked like buildings, and poles sticking out from it with lights on them, exactly like the movie but not in the desert but in central ky, I watched as it flew over my car and over a base or airport, then it moved in steps downward to land, it looked almost exactly like speilburgs depiction in the movie, I wonder who gave him all the details like he used, and why kentucky , not in the desert,


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