Study Guide

Close Encounters of the Third Kind Innocence

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ROY: The kids have never seen Pinocchio. You guys have never seen Pinocchio. You're in luck.

RONNIE: I don't believe this.

BRAD: Who wants to go to see a dumb cartoon rated "G" for kids?

ROY: How old are you?

BRAD: Eight.

ROY: You want to be nine?

BRAD: Yeah.

ROY: Then you're gonna see Pinocchio tomorrow night.

We see Roy's childlike qualities as soon as we meet him. He's playing with trains and trying to convince his kids to see Pinocchio, a movie even his 8-year-old thinks is silly. It doesn't hurt that Richard Dreyfuss is rather diminutive in size.

BARRY: Mom, look. [The orange light from a UFO streams through the curtain blinds.]

JILLIAN: Oh, my God!

As a child, Barry's inquisitive way of viewing the world allows him to see the alien threat as no threat at all. Barry thinks the aliens are just playing and he acts as though their invasion of his house is a game. His mother is understandably freaked out. Especially when the light drags her kid out the door. Can't blame her.

JILLIAN: It's like Halloween for grownups.

ROY: Trick or treat!

Watching the lights of the UFOs whiz by, Roy's found a partner in Jillian. They're both giddy with excitement.

SUIT: Now, there are all kinds of ideas that would be fun to believe in. Mental telepathy, time travel, immortality, even Santa Claus. Now, I know it's no fun to go home and say, "Guess what happened today? I was in the shopping center, there was this tremendously bright light, and I rushed outside, and it was an airplane."

ROY: Excuse me, sir. Uh, I didn't want to see this.

SUIT: I sure wish I had. You know, for 15 years, I've been looking for these damn silly lights in the night sky. I've never found any. I'd like to because I believe in life elsewhere.

Notice the inclusion of Santa Claus. The Air Force suit thinks believing in such things as UFOs and mental telepathy are equivalent to believing in Santa Claus. In a word, childish. But as the movie will argue, searching for the impossible with childlike enthusiasm can help us learn great things, even if our search for Santa Claus is a bust.

MAN IN HAZMAT SUIT: How are you feeling?

ROY: I feel fine! According to my birds, the only bad air around here is you guys farting around!

Another quality Roy shares with kids is his disregard for authority. He has to push the boundaries, like a toddler who's discovered the word no.

[Roy stands in line with the other Mayflower Project astronauts. The childlike aliens pull him from the line up and accept him into their group. As Roy's ushered to the mother ship, he looks back and smiles at the people he is leaving behind, his face full of anticipation and excitement.]

Okay, so maybe not everyone has to grow up. Roy gets the Peter Pan pass here and is accepted into the ranks of the childlike aliens. Why do you think Spielberg imbues the little alien beings with childlike qualities, too?

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