Topher Grace Showed a New 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' Cut
by Ethan Anderton
February 21, 2014
Some readers might remember back in March of 2012, our own Alex Billington was lucky enough to attend a fun little event hosted by Topher Grace where he screened something called Star Wars: The Editor Strikes Back. Grace was anxious to learn the tricks of being an editor, and as some fun practice, edited together all three of the Star Wars prequels into one, short 85-minute movie, focusing mostly on Anakin's path to the Dark Side. Now he's done it again with a film from George Lucas' good pal and collaborator Steven Spielberg, sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And there's a trailer to watch!
Click to watch the trailer for Topher Grace's Close Encounters of the Third Kind edit (via SlashFilm):
SlashFilm notes that Grace didn't do this because he felt the need to fix Close Encounters of the Third Kind (that wasn't even his intention with the Star Wars prequels edit, though it arguably would have been the best reason). In fact, it's one of the actor's favorite movies. However, one thing he did note that he thought the film "maybe could’ve been a little faster," so he actually “squashed it” by taking what was a 2 hour and 17 minute film and cutting it down to 1 hour and 48 minutes. Here are the finer points that Peter Sciretta from SlashFilm pointed out:
"Grace made a lot of cuts and included a few additions. The biggest compliment I can give the edit is that it was really hard for me to tell you what changes were made. The cut feels almost seamless. Grace even admitted before the screening that this edit is 'not as sexy' as his Star Wars prequel reedit.
A lot of the changes are more subtle, for example: Grace punctuates some of the humor to make the film feel more like a post-Raiders Spielberg movie. Topher’s cut includes a couple of the deleted scenes and even footage from the film’s trailer, incorporating the road footage for the film’s opening titles (you can watch that original trailer below). He used John Williams score from The Witches of Eastwick for some of the deleted sequences that didn’t have musical accompaniment.
While I can’t tell you every change made with this edit, I can tell you that Carl Weathers appears in a scene as a military officer. I can also say that Topher’s version is more streamlined, choosing to focus more on Richard Dreyfuss‘ character Roy Neary. I feel like this is a story choice that an older Spielberg might’ve made. Topher also chose not to include the added Collector’s Edition sequence inside the mother ship.
It feels faster paced than the original, it has more laughs but its also less meaty…Topher Grace’s Close Encounters remix is just a different experience."
For anyone who thinks it's sacrilege to touch a film like this, it's all in good fun. Plus, let's not forget that Steven Spielberg tinkered with this film and released a special edition in theaters and added in some scenes that were cut previously, and even removing some stuff from the first cut (there's footage from all of the cuts in Grace's edit). There have been a variety of releases on home video over the years with varying versions, so Grace's cut is just another interesting approach to the sci-fi story. For more details on the various versions of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Grace's remix of the film, read SlashFilm's whole article right here. Also, be sure to check out Topher Grace's new pop culture blog Cereal Prize for cool stuff everyday.