Some films shock even their filmmakers. Details are exposed, and the inner workings of the subconscious are picked up on by audiences and critics. This was the case in the late ‘90s with the legendary Steven Spielberg and a certain one of his famous extra-terrestrial flicks.
In the 1977 science fiction movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, we see a scene where humans communicate with aliens via music. However, this detail and iconic moment in the film, actually has real-life influences that hold a very personal secret meaning in regards to Spielberg’s family and early life… Even if it took the filmmaker a while to realise what he subconsciously put into his hit alien movie.
During an interview with James Lipton in 1999 for an episode of Inside the Actors Studio, it was pointed out that the filmmaker’s father was “a computer scientist” while his mother was “ a musician”. In the film, as Lipton points out, “they make music on their computers and are able to speak to each other.”
“I would love to say that I intended that and that I realised that was my father and mother,” Spielberg said. “But I didn’t, not until this moment. Thank you for that.”
Spielberg’s parents separated in 1966, and in the past, the filmmaker has revealed how their divorce inspired films such as E.T. So, considering his parent’s complex relationship, looking back on the scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind that Lipton mentions, does shed its details in a new light, and shows what may have been on the director’s mind during filming.