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Celebrating ‘Close Encounters’ 40-Year Anniversary—When Hollywood Turned America To New-Age Religion

On its release in 1977, The New Republic characterized the movie, which was Mr. Spielberg’s follow-up to “Jaws,” as “an event in the history of faith.” Writing in The New York Times, the Catholic priest and sociologist Andrew M. Greeley extolled the movie’s sense of religious wonder. The conservative Christian publication Today’s Student, which had a university following, went even further in asserting that “nothing has ever approached the rapture and enchantment” of the movie’s closing scenes, adding that its “grand scale” and “magnitude” approached the work of God. Others were less ecstatic. “Who is Spielberg to define religion for us?” asked New York magazine’s film critic Molly Haskell. (The author of a recent monograph on Mr. Spielberg, Ms. Haskell has grown more appreciative of the filmmaker if not the film.) (READ MORE)


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