I watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind again tonight, and remembered how magical it was the first time I saw it. It still is. It’s a film that captured my awe and imagination in way few other films have ever done, though Contact came close.

It was all done in those prehistoric days before CGI, when, if you wanted to show something fantastic on the screen, you had to actually build it, whether full size or in miniature, and shoot it with a real camera so that it looked real. Spielberg utterly pulled it off. Even today, with all the advances we’ve made in movie special effects, there’s not one thing in the movie that takes me out of that world.

But it’s not just the special effects. It’s the awe and wonder that is the powerful attractant that pulls me back in, again and again.

I was just a kid when I saw it the very first time. I remember vividly I felt like crying at the end of it, and it took me years to figure out why. There have been things I’ve been through, and times in my life that I would have sold my soul to whatever devil existed to be able to escape and fly away from all my troubles the way Roy Neary did at the end. Even today it’s a compelling thought, a soothing fantasy.

I really hope dying feels like that.