One thing that I enjoy about going back and watching some of these classic films for the first time is being able to see where a director began to hone their craft. By this point, Spielberg had already shook the world with the first true summer blockbuster, Jaws, but this helped him chart new territory and paved the way for countless science fiction works to come, as well as informing his own view of how to present future shots and visual effects. This was groundbreaking stuff, ahead of its time and sure to be emulated. Spielberg has always had a way with wowing an audience, and a lot of that dates back to this film, capturing the awe that I imagine we would all feel if we were ever able to confirm contact with an alien race. It speaks to obsession and paranoia, a desire for normalcy against the power of belief, our place in the larger cosmic picture, and the idea that perhaps we are capable of more than we think, among other themes. Above all else, this is just a damn good time at the movies, and I can only imagine that, in 1977, it was a truly mind-blowing experience for audiences worldwide.