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.
Reader Feedback - 16 Comments
man I loved that movie so much!
Avi on Feb 21, 2014
Honestly this comes across as very pretentious: he doesn't want to "fix" the movie, yet he thinks it can be faster. Isn't that thinking he can fix it in some way? And is he supposed to learn about editing doing this? This isn't editing. It's fan editing. The real editing involves going through a ton of coverage, takes, and putting together a movie from scratch…I've never had an editor shown me a fan edit as part of an editing exercise. And slash film's comment of this version being more streamlined and "I feel this is a story choice that an older Spielberg might have made" is ludicrous. So a young Topher is like an old Spielberg? Yeah right. This whole thing just rubs me the wrong way.
imagineer on Feb 21, 2014
Well, there are plenty of ways to edit a movie that is still 'good'. And 'good' is all subjective. Are any of the 15 versions of Blade Runner necessarily 'better' or 'worse'? Does the answer depend on who you are talking to? Take ANY movie with multiple versions, and you'll find people who prefer one or the other, that doesn't mean one version is 'fixed' or 'broken', simply an alternate representation of the material. Since this is for fun, for practice, and clearly done out of a love for the film and for non-profit, I see nothing wrong with it.
Chris Groves on Feb 21, 2014
I think there's a big difference between the cuts of blade runner and a fan edit. One of them was made by the filmmakers themselves. It's their movie. It's their vision. They're the ones with the hundreds of dailies and takes, it's their movie. If you want to make a fan edit for non-profit and such, I think that's fine. But getting a write up because Topher Grace did it (there are hundreds of fan edits floating around the internet that get no attention) and saying he made Spielberg and Kahn's work more focused and faster is gonna annoy some people.
imagineer on Feb 21, 2014
Man, you are on point. Well said.
axalon on Feb 21, 2014
Well, Grace didn't say he made Spielberg's work more focused and faster, the people doing the write-ups did. It's called an opinion and everyone is entitled to it. Grace didn't come out and say he's edited a better film. Also, Topher Grace is a famous actor, pretty much anything he does will get attention. I'd much rather read about an actor stretching his wings and making fan edits of films he loves, than hear the type of BS that often gets ink. THIS is actually interesting. And of course, it's entirely for non-profit and Grace wasn't out there trying to get notoriety for it, and he isn't trying to make money off of it. He's doing it out of an obvious love for the material, the only difference between his non-profit fan edits and other fan-edits is that he happens to be a well-known actor...so NATURALLY he'll get more attention for his efforts. That doesn't change the fact that this is a completely harmless effort, and that it is at least an interesting thing to read about.
Chris Groves on Feb 22, 2014
Is Topher Grace famous?
redtie on Feb 23, 2014
More famous than you.
Chris Groves on Feb 24, 2014
For now... dun dun dunnnnnnnn.
redtie on Feb 25, 2014
"For anyone who thinks it's sacrilege to touch a film like this, it's all in good fun. " Eh, let's see if you say that after someone takes your work and does something like this to it. I get that it's all in fun and that he's using this for practice, but then why the publicity? And as imagineer said so well below, this isn't true editing since a majority of the heavy lifting has already been done.
axalon on Feb 21, 2014
The publicity is because people are going to talk about it anyway. They're going to ask questions about it because it's interesting. So why not just get the story out there from the start so it's not a big deal.
Kento on Feb 21, 2014
People are going to talk about it anyway? How? Slashfilm made a point of saying this was a private screening, not public, with just a few friends in attendance. Then why the hell write an article about it and have first showing report on slash film's article? It's bonkers. "So Topher Grace, who's not an editor, edited someone else's edit of a classic movie. Nobody will ever see it so nobody can have an opinion on it except me. But take my word for it it's shorter than the original and more streamlined!". Umm ok. Excellent film news reporting.
imagineer on Feb 21, 2014
Hey, Topher Grace, I've got an idea: why don't you edit a version of Spider-Man 3 without you in it? That might actually IMPROVE the movie you're editing!
Legolaszlo on Feb 21, 2014
Hey I've painted a version of the 'Mona Lisa' I'm just dying to spew onto the media saturated public!
lattimore on Feb 21, 2014
Why bother with a trailer for a secret movie remix? Just for attention?
cobrazombie on Feb 23, 2014
Question, did Topher Grace have permission do these edits (Star Wars and Close Encounters)? Anyway, I don't understand why people get their panties in a twist about this if they weren't part of the original team that put the movie together (and even then). Seems like an awful lot of stress for no apparent reason...
Neuromancer on Feb 23, 2014
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