Sunday, June 19, 2016
Curiosity killed the Cat, but Satisfaction Brought it Back: Scene analysis from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"
His mind shaken and family scarred by his potent and mysterious obsession with a vague and unrecognizable formation, Roy Neary decides to abandon his search for answers. While cleaning up the mess his search has produced, Neary breaks a portion of his clay sculptures of the figure that has been haunting him. At this point, the modified sculpture that stands before him incites a Eureka moment and reinvigorates his mania.
At this point in the film, Neary's curiosity has cost him his job, his family, and arguably his family. Last night Neary was sobbing in the bathroom desperate for answers and looking to his wife for solace, but today the answers he found are worth more than the company of his family, who abandons him that same day. This scene encapsulates the gravity of Neary's affliction because it demonstrates to the audience the impact Neary's close encounter has affected him. He doubted his search for answers right at the brink of his transformation. In that moment, the cost and the value of curiosity is put before the viewer and we see exactly how far it can take a person, how far it has taken Neary from his old life and even his sanity.
Neary's questions are too big to keep inside of himself; he asks them openly in exploration through art and plainly to those around him and keeps asking despite the fact that his family and even his government are frightened by them and insist he stop. The consequence is that he finds answers. When he breaks the sculpture and recognizes something in its new form he finally reaches the point of discovery he was desperate for. In Neary's regained enthusiasm, Spielberg lets us know that no matter how far the questions take us and no matter how scary they are the answers are worth it.