Way back when, Wednesdays

We are not alone

In celebration of 40 years since it first release on 16 November 1977, plans are in motion to remaster the iconic science fiction adventure film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and re-screen it in cinemas. It used to take some months for a film released overseas to reach Australia. Only selected cinemas had the right to show certain films, so audiences flocked to the Hoyts Regent cinemas in the Adelaide Arcade.

On page 16 of the Leader Messenger dated 5 July 1978, Tea Tree Plaza advertised a promotion designed to tie in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. To generate interest in the film, Tree Plaza hosted a display about UFOs, which was put together by the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society, in conjunction with Hoyts cinemas. This promotion also featured a special event, which was a talk by a member of the Society, with the incentive of winning free passes to see Close Encounters.

Close encounters

At this time, people were receptive to new cinematic science fiction experiences. Steven Spielberg had terrified and thrilled audiences with Jaws in Australia in 1975. Star Wars had been monumental – it had set the bar for special effects and excitement, when it was released in Australia in October 1977. Everybody was waiting for the next blockbuster movie. Sessions of Close Encounters of the Third Kind on evenings and weekends would book out in advance.

If you don’t know the story, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is focuses on a group of people who experience some sort of paranormal activity associated with alien contact.

Two parallel stories are told. Strange phenomena and sightings of UFOs are happening around the world, which according to a scale devised by UFO researcher Dr. Josef Allen Hynek, is a close encounter of the first kind. A team of scientists and experts including French scientist Claude Lacombe and his American interpreter and cartographer David Laughlin, are investigating these related incidents. For example, military planes which disappeared in 1945 have suddenly reappeared in the desert but without their pilots.

In Muncie, Indiana, in the USA, Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss) refuses to accept conventional explanations for his encounter with an unidentified flying object. After this close encounter of the second kind, he becomes obsessed with pursuing the truth. Single mother Jillian Guiler (played by Melinda Dillon) and her young son Barry have similar experiences.

Integral to the film’s plot is a musical sequence of five tones enabling humans and aliens to communicate. In India witnesses report that UFOs make these distinctive sounds. Both Roy and Jillian have repeated visions of a mountain and the five musical notes run through their minds. When the scientists broadcast the musical notes into space they receive a response, a series of numbers repeated over and over. Cartographer Laughlin, interprets this data as geographical coordinates, for the Devils Tower near Moorcroft, Wyoming.

Defying a cover-up and military action by the American government, all of these characters follow the clues they have been given to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind: contact. The film was groundbreaking in its depiction of aliens as peaceful beings who wish to get to know humanity, rather than trying to take over the Earth or eat us. After their cinema experience, people could look up in the sky and think that perhaps we were not alone.

Alien

These were exciting times. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a critical and financial success. It was nominated for several Academy Awards but the film only won one, for cinematography. It also won several other film industry awards. A disco adaption of the five note sequence charted as high as 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in March 1978.

John Williams would write many other beautiful, memorable film soundtracks and be arguably the best known composer of classical music in modern times. Steven Spielberg would direct a trove of acclaimed and popular films, and become the highest grossing director by worldwide box office ($9.246 billion) wikipedia.org. What would be the next science fiction/fantasy blockbuster? Superman released in 1978, which made a star of Christopher Reeves.

#waybackwhenwednesdays

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Climate change can be deadly

David Kilner for blog

Adelaide author David Kilner has been writing crime stories for several years. He will be visiting the Library this month to speak about his first novel The Climate Change Murders and about lots of things ‘literary’.

When: Wednesday 27 July, 6.30pm – 7.30pm.

Venue: Relaxed Reading Area, City of Tea Tree Gully Library.

Cost: Free.  Bookings are essential.

“In this light-hearted talk, David Kilner will discuss crime fiction in its many forms, from its origins 250 years ago, through the years to contemporary fiction. Along the way he’ll look at the impact of film and television on crime writing and ask what does reading or watching crime fiction actually do for us?  Finally he’ll talk about his own books – how they came to be written, some of the challenges of writing and why he chose his characters.”  http://www.davidkilner.com

In The Climate Change Murders you can meet the new cop on the beat, Detective Sergeant Skyla Merrick.  Like all good fictional detectives, Skyla has a troubled past with a bad romance that she would rather forget about.   But of course, those experiences never really go away for our heroine.

“Somebody wanted Edwina Ling dead and it would not be a pleasant death, that was for sure. But who was the villain? The climate change activist? The professional colleague? The fishing industry guru? The ex-lover? The disgruntled employee? Detective Sergeant Skyla Merrick must tackle not only confusing evidence trails and public brawls but also long-buried personal traumas that threaten her objectivity. The only one she can turn to for help is the man who betrayed her.”  http://www.davidkilner.com

David says that he especially loves the British school of crime writing, as these authors explore why criminals act, their psycology and motivation, rather than just ‘whodunnit’.  He especially admires the work of PD James, Ian Rankin, Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine.

The Climate Change Murders could be your next good read.  If you would like to come along to meet David, you can book online or telephone: 8397 7333.  A wine and cheese supper will be served. Copies of The Climate Change Murders will be available for sale and signing by the author.