Contact is a movie I absolutely love, despite my friends’ occasional mockings. They think it is cheesy, namely the part where, when Ellie Arroway finally makes contact with the alien species, they take on the form of her dead father. But I feel like this isn’t all that
tacky, after all it is not as though she is being reunited with her actual
father. The aliens downloaded her memory and made themselves manifest in a form which would ‘make things easier on her’. Ellie’s father, I wish I had one.
One thing touched upon often is the idea that if other planets do not support life, that if it’s just us, then the universe is an ‘awful waste of space’. Ellie says to Palmer Joss, “You know, there are 400 billion stars out there, just in our galaxy alone. If only one out of a million of those had planets, alright, and if just one out of a million of those had life, and if just one out of a million of those had intelligent life, there would be literally.. millions of civilizations out there.”
Palmer Joss was a religious counsellor, who considered himself 'a man of the cloth ... without the cloth' (an allusion to his problems with the whole celibacy thing). He questioned whether the world was fundamentally a better place, because of technology, and noted how through shopping at home, and surfing the web, we are all a little more empty and isolated. He said that he wasn’t against technology but against the men who deify it at the expense of human truth. One exchange that bent my brain was between Palmer and Ellie, after she told him she needed proof of a omniscient creator before blindly believing in it.
Palmer Joss: Did you love your father?
Dr. Eleanor Ann Arroway: What?
Palmer Joss: Your dad. Did you love him?
Dr. Eleanor Ann Arroway: Yes, very much.
Palmer Joss: Prove it.
Another thing that touched me was when David Drumlin tells Ellie, “I know you must think this is all very unfair. Maybe that's an understatement. What you don't know is I agree. I wish the world were a place where fair was the bottom line, where the kind of idealism
you showed at the hearing was rewarded, not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, we don't live in that world.”
Ellie replied, “Funny, I've always believed that the world is what we make of it
I pine for a sky like the one at the end, the one the aliens created from Ellie’s memory to look like Pensacola. The sea was an unearthly pale blue with glitter thrown in it, the air rippled when you touched it and the sky had four distant suns, a quadruple system, each star a different colour. I loved, and hunger after the light quality those suns provide (damn yellow giant earth sun). And the sky was alive.. not cold as our sky sometimes feels. There were plentiful falling stars and countless colours.. the sky turned purple-ish in some areas. It was so beautiful compared to our simple silver stars hanging in a black nothingness. Less lonely.
The thing which got me the most, and which stifles my existential unease, slightly, is the part where the aliens tell Ellie:
”You're an interesting species. An interesting mix. You are capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone. Only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we found that makes the emptiness bearable ... is each other.”
Other Information of Note:
Carl Sagan, the author and producer, died during the production of the film. He took great care to ensure that "science" was accurately depicted in the film.
The sounds heard during the film's opening shot include:
(This trivia from amazon.com)