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Encyclopedia > Contact (movie)
Contact DVD
Contact DVD

Contact is a 1997 film adaptation of the science fiction novel Contact by Carl Sagan. DVD cover scan from the movie Contact, personal scan, claiming fair use (does not detract from original work, scanned from legal copy, image is of sufficiently low resolution). ... DVD cover scan from the movie Contact, personal scan, claiming fair use (does not detract from original work, scanned from legal copy, image is of sufficiently low resolution). ... 1997 is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Film refers to the celluloid media on which movies are printed Film is a term that encompasses motion pictures as individual projects, as well as the field in general. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... A novel is an extended work of written, narrative, prose fiction, usually in story form; the writer of a novel is a novelist. ... Contact is a science fiction novel written by Carl Sagan and published in 1985. ... A respected astronomer and dogged critic of pseudoscience, Carl Sagan is best known for his enthusiastic efforts at popularizing science. ...

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, its main stars are Jodie Foster as Eleanor Ann "Ellie" Arroway and Matthew McConaughey as Palmer Joss. Director Robert Zemeckis Robert Zemeckis (born May 14, 1952) is a Greek-American movie director, producer and writer. ... Alicia Christian Jodie Foster (born November 19, 1962) is an American actress and director. ... Matthew David McConaughey (born November 4, 1969) is an American actor. ...


Plot summary

The plot in the movie is loosely based in the novel.

Ellie Arroway, who's lost both parents at a young age, is a brilliant scientist who searches for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). As she affords the means to conduct her SETI research (i.e., using a radiotelescope), she gets ridiculed by other scientists and, mainly, by Dr. David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt), her former teacher and now chief of the National Science Foundation and the Presidency's science advisor. Drumlin ultimately shuts down her research, as he regarded it to be a waste of time and the public's monetary resources. The SETI Institute has received limited telescope time at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. ... In contrast to an ordinary telescope, which produces visible light images, a radio telescope sees radio waves emitted by radio sources, typically by means of a large parabolic (dish) antenna, or arrays of them. ... Tom Skerritt (born August 25, 1933) is an American actor. ... The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent United States government agency responsible for supporting basic science research mainly by providing research funding. ...

Ellie and friends start searching for someone to sponsor her research privately, and eventually receive a grant from billionaire S.R. Hadden (John Hurt), so her SETI research may go on. A message of unknown origin is detected as a sequence of prime numbers coming from the star Vega. The word billion, and its equivalents in other languages, refer to one of two different numbers. ... (Mississippi John Hurt is an early American folk and country blues singer, 1893-1966) John Vincent Hurt (born January 22, 1940) CBE, is a British actor. ... In mathematics, a prime number, or prime for short, is a natural number greater than one and whose only distinct positive divisors are 1 and itself. ... Vega (α Lyr / α Lyrae / Alpha Lyrae) is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, and the fifth brightest star in the sky. ...

The message is discovered to have more than just prime numbers, and is finally decoded as a schematic for a transportation machine for one passenger. There was an initial controversy about its purpose, so the machine received no special name, remaining known solely as the "Machine".

As the construction of the Machine has a huge price tag for a single country, even the USA, an international consortium is formed to carry its construction. Because of it, disputes arise on who will travel in it - there are candidates from several countries participating in the project. From the USA, the candidates are Ellie, Dr. Drumlin and a former astronaut that at some point quits the contest.

Theologian Palmer Joss, besides being Ellie's love interest, has an important impact in the political process of choosing the Machine's passenger - he actually impairs Ellie's candidacy, giving the victory to Dr. Drumlin. In particular, Joss represents the religious aspect of the movie, challenging Ellie's agnosticism. Agnosticism is the philosophical view that the truth values of certain claims, particularly theological claims regarding the existence of God, gods or deities, are either unknown or inherently unknowable. ...

As a religious fanatic raids the test site in a suicidal bombing, the Machine is destroyed and Dr. Drumlin is killed. Hadden informs Ellie of a second Machine, secretly built near Hokkaido Island, and she travels in it across deep space through wormholes, and orbits several stars including Vega. In one star system, she sees a planet from nightside, from where lights emerge in a geometrical pattern — indicating a technological civilization. She goes on to make contact with an alien life form, that takes the form of her dad. Hokkaido   listen? (北海道 Hokkaidō, literal meaning: North Sea Route, Ainu: Mosir), formerly known as Ezo, is the second largest island of Japan. ... A wormhole, also known as an Einstein-Rosen bridge, is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that is essentially a shortcut from one point in the universe to another point in the universe, allowing travel between them that is faster than it would take light to make the journey through...

When Ellie returns to Earth she has no material evidence to show, and to her astonishment, she realizes that no time has passed since her launch to her comeback. Because of it, no one believes she actually made a space voyage.

A congressional inquiry assembled afterwards hints that the entire project could have been a hoax created by Hadden - or simply a plan to make him richer, since the Japanese industries that built the "Machine" were secretly acquired by him, shortly before the project started. Meanwhile Hadden, who was then living in the Mir space station in an attempt to fight a long-time cancer, finally dies. MIR is a TLA that could mean: Mail-in rebate Medical Inspection Room - the place for sick parade in most British and Commonwealth militaries and many NGOs. ...

Some time later, a dialogue between two Government agents reveals to the spectator a secret report, that says the 18 hours during which Ellie made her alleged contact indeed exists as static on her monitoring equipment, suggesting that the voyage happened somehow. She finally gets a new government grant to keep her SETI project going on.

Special effects

The movie opens with a CG shot of almost 3 minutes, moving away from the Earth through the solar system, away from the Milky Way, and other galaxies; ending up by coming out of the eye of young Ellie: played by Jena Malone, who has dark brown eyes which had to be changed to blue with a special effect to match Foster's. Computer graphics (CG) is the field of visual computing, where one utilizes computers both to generate visual images synthetically and to integrate or alter visual and spatial information sampled from the real world. ... Mosaic of Solar System planets except Pluto, including Earths Moon (not to scale). ... The Milky Way (a translation of the Latin Via Lactea, in turn derived from the Greek Galaxia Kuklos) is the galaxy in which the Earth is found. ... Jena Malone as Margie Flynn and Emile Hirsch as Francis Doyle in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys Jena Malone (born November 21, 1984) is an American actress. ...

The crane shot going thru the window towards Ellie's room was done by filming the house with a bluescreen inside the door's window which was later blended with a shot of the room on a set. The bluescreen setup The final image Bluescreen is the film technique of shooting foreground action against an even-lighted blue background, which is then replaced by a separately shot background plate scene by optical composition. ...

The dish of the Arecibo radio telescope was digitally cleaned up. The Arecibo Observatory is located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico on the north coast of the island. ...

In the scene where young Ellie fetches her dad's medicine, she runs around a corner, up a flight of stairs, around another 90° corner, down a corridor towards a bathroom medicine cabinet with a mirror on its door. The scene seems to have been filmed as a reflection of the mirror, which is not possible because of all the different ways the camera moved.

In the scene before Ellie descends to the beach, six different emotional performances (happy, sad, afraid, etc.) of Foster and one of Malone is morphed.

The film was nominated for a "best special effects" Saturn Award, a "best individual achievement: effects animation" Annie; and won an "outstanding visual effects" Golden Satellite Award and a "best use of animation as a special FX in a theatrical" WAC award. The following are a list of Saturn Award winners for Best Special Effects: ... The Annie Award are given to actors for their work in voice-overs including those done in animated film, video games and other vocally-driven art. ...


  • Part of the movie is set at the Very Large Array, an NRAO observatory near Socorro, New Mexico. The NRAO facility is actually "the wrong stuff" for what they were doing in the movie, but it does look the part.
  • Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan's wife until his death, makes a short cameo appearance, along with former US Vice-Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro.
  • The "key" that S. R. Hadden finds in the transmission and that allows the message to be decoded seems to be a variation on the artificial language Lincos, first described in 1960 by Hans Freudenthal.

The NRAOs Very Large Array (configuration D) For other uses of the acronym VLA see VLA (disambiguation) The Very Large Array (VLA) is a radio astronomy observatory located on the Plains of San Agustin, between the towns of Magdalena and Datil, some fifty miles (80 km) west of Socorro... The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is an institution set up by the United States government for the purpose of radio astronomy. ... Socorro is a city located in Socorro County, New Mexico in the Rio Grande Valley, at an elevation of 4579 feet. ... Ann Druyan (b. ... Geraldine Anne Ferraro (born August 26, 1935) is best known as the first and, so far, only woman to be a candidate for Vice President of the United States on a major party ticket (although women on third-party tickets continue to run for the position). ... An artificial or constructed language (known colloquially as a conlang among aficionados), is a language whose vocabulary and grammar were specifically devised by an individual or small group, rather than having naturally evolved as part of a culture as with natural languages. ... Lincos (an abbreviation of the Latin phrase lingua cosmica) is an artificial language first described in 1960 by Dr. Hans Freudenthal and described in his book LINCOS: Design of a Language for Cosmic Intercourse. ... 1960 was a leap year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... Hans Freudenthal (September 17, 1905 – October 13, 1990) was a German mathematician born in Luckenwalde into a Jewish family. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Contact (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1348 words)
Contact is a 1997 film adaptation of the science fiction novel Contact by Carl Sagan.
The movie opens with a CG shot of almost 3 minutes, moving away from the Earth through the solar system, away from the Milky Way, and through other galaxies, ending up by coming out of the eye of young Ellie.
Part of the movie is set at the Very Large Array, an NRAO observatory near Socorro, New Mexico.
Contact movie review (1342 words)
The main plot is the interception of an alien communication by Eleanor Arroway (Jodie Foster), the decoding of the communication to reveal a transport, and the actual contact between humans and aliens.
Every aspect of the movie is brought out excellently, from Arroway's initial interception of the alien signal to her travel through a wormhole and encountering aliens, which is done in the best manner possible.
Yet, in the movie, the reverse is what happens, i.e., her "watch" measures eighteen hours, whereas the "watch" on Earth measures a fraction of a second for the loss of contact with her transport (see addendum below).
  More results at FactBites »



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