Steven Spielberg’s wide-eyed speculation on alien contact can be silly and maudlin. At the same time, few directors of the “Star Wars” generation had the courage to give special effects such an endearingly human dimension. Spielberg is less concerned with space visitors (not invaders, mind you) than he is how human culture reacts to the unknown. His alien-buster is none other than the late French director François Truffaut, who communicates with the “others” through tones. His everyman (Richard Dreyfuss) is bewildered, scared, excited. Spielberg’s fascination for children’s wide-eyed response to mysteries that scare adults presages “ET.” Don’t underrate the impact of Spielberg’s dancing lights and giant spacecraft; in the 1970s it was magical. He and George Lucas, an assist to Industrial, Light, and Magic, overhauled science fiction. The film’s benign alien-contact climax remains startling decades later and is often copied.