A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

All images: Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin (Harper Collins)
All images: Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin (Harper Collins)

This fall, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Spielberg’s classic science fiction film, turns 40. Celebrating that milestone is Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History, a richly detailed tome packed with concept art, behind-the-scenes photos, storyboards, and interviews. io9's got excerpts that detail a number of iconic moments.

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Author Michael Klastorin gathered lots of illustrations and information to create this beautiful and fascinating book. I recommend expanding all these images to see just how much detail is on display:

Illustration for article titled A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in iClose Encounters of the Third Kind /i
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Along with concept art, the story behind the design and build of the Mothership is incredible, including the fact that the model team had just about finished building the original design before getting word to start over. “We threw out the giant teepee,” says model maker Greg Jein.

Illustration for article titled A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in iClose Encounters of the Third Kind /i
Illustration for article titled A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in iClose Encounters of the Third Kind /i

Here are some details about Spielberg’s very first draft of the script and how much survived to make it into the final movie:

Illustration for article titled A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in iClose Encounters of the Third Kind /i
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One thing in the film from the beginning was the idea of music as a form of communication. “There was no mode of thought leading up to that. It just seemed like the most perfect communion between them and us,” says Spielberg in the book:

Illustration for article titled A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in iClose Encounters of the Third Kind /i
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The book is honestly a treasure trove, but the best behind-the-scenes images?

Illustration for article titled A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in iClose Encounters of the Third Kind /i
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Illustration for article titled A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in iClose Encounters of the Third Kind /i
Illustration for article titled A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in iClose Encounters of the Third Kind /i
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Illustration for article titled A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in iClose Encounters of the Third Kind /i

... Are these creepy ones of the “aliens.” Honestly, this is scarier than anything else Spielberg has ever done.

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Illustration for article titled A New Book Reveals the Original Design for the Mothership in iClose Encounters of the Third Kind /i

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History comes out October 24, 2017.

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Katharine is the former managing editor of io9.

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DISCUSSION

Rainbucket
Rainbucket

Those aliens are scary because they’re the dead eyed background costumes only seen backlit in fog. More interesting to my childhood trauma was how creepy/cute the sophisticated close up puppet was.

And whatever the hell was up with this guy.