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Contact (1997)

PG  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi  |  11 July 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 188,361 users   Metascore: 62/100
Reviews: 598 user | 158 critic | 22 from Metacritic.com

Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of intelligent aliens, who send plans for a mysterious machine.



(novel), (story), 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sami Chester ...
Vernon (as SaMi Chester)
Timothy McNeil ...
Laura Elena Surillo ...
Cantina Woman
Michael Chaban ...
Hadden Suit
Willie (as Maximilian Martini)
Thomas Garner ...
Ian Broderick


Astronomer Dr. Ellie Arroway has long been interested in contact to faraway lands, a love fostered in her childhood by her father, Ted Arroway, who passed away when she was nine years old leaving her then orphaned. Her current work in monitoring for extraterrestrial life is based on that love and is in part an homage to her father. Ever since funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) was pulled on her work, which is referred to some, including her NSF superior David Drumlin, as more science fiction than science, Ellie, with a few of her rogue scientist colleagues, have looked for funding from where ever they could get it to continue their work. When Ellie and her colleagues hear chatter originating from the vicinity of the star Vega, Ellie feels vindicated. But that vindication is short lived when others, including politicians, the military, religious leaders and other scientists such as Drumlin, try to take over her work. When the messages received from space are decoded, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


If it's just us, it seems like an awful waste of space. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some intense action, mild language and a scene of sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

11 July 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Contacto  »

Box Office


$90,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$20,584,908 (USA) (11 July 1997)


$100,853,835 (USA) (31 October 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The "UFO ABDUCTION INSURANCE" banner across an RV is from a real company that was paid by Warner Brothers to use their novel idea in the movie. See more »


Ellie says to Palmer that her father died when she was 9. Yet later in the movie Mr. Hadden set her birth date to August 25th 1964, and her father's death to November 10th 1974, so she was 10 at the moment of his death. See more »


[first lines]
Young Ellie: CQ, this is W9GFO. CQ, this is W9GFO here. Come back?
See more »


Referenced in To Boldly Flee (2012) See more »


Please Mr. Postman
Written by Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman, Brian Holland and Robert Bateman
Performed by The Marvelettes
Played briefly during the opening sequence
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Different from the book doesn't mean bad.
20 September 2002 | by (Alexandria, Virginia) – See all my reviews

I am used to hearing from just about everyone who has read a book that was made into a movie that the book is always better. I tend to agree with this opinion. Contact, however, shows that in the arts the norm is not always the truth; opinion, no matter how often it is backed up with evidence, can never break through the barrier into be a hardened and absolute truth.

I saw this movie first before I read the book. That is partly because I didn't know that there was the book until after the movie. So, a year or so after the viewing, I got the book. Of course, the movie, in general terms, follows the book fairly well. I have to say, the movie can easily stand on its own merits just as the book can also.

The immediate impression of the film after the book is that there is a great emphasis on faith, proof, truth and opinion. These themes are not much brought up in the book - at least not with the same impact nor in the same way as in the film. Of course, the field of Astrophysics, of which Carl Sagan was a practitioner, lends itself very easily to ultimate questions such as God, faith, truth etc. The vastness of space and complexity of reality, viewed through the scrutiny of the scientific eye, is mind-boggling. As was repeated in the movie several times: "if we're all that there is, "its an awful waste of space." Personally, I think that the book relates these notions of vastness and complexity much better than the movie. But, the audience of the book was certainly not necessarily the same audience as the movie.

To be more fair, the vastness which was expressed in the book was demonstrated to an equal degree, but differed in quality, by the "aloneness" of Dr. Arroway as she scuttles across the universe. In the book, Dr. Arroway is not alone but go with a team of scientists, all of whom make their appearance in the movie. There is much more detail given in the book of the trip through the device than in the movie. In fact, there are very deliberate omissions made which eliminate the technological bent of the book. Yet, the focus of the movie does not allow the movie to be diminished by these omissions in the same way that the book would unavoidably be lacking without those details.

One final aspect of the movie which is relevant with respect to the book is time. Of course, in physics, time has its leading role so it must make at least a cameo in a movie which relies on physics. Astrophysics is tied inextricably to relativity which is likewise tied to time. The timelessness of the device design sent via radio signals and the instantaneous trip Dr. Arroway seemed to put relativity into perfect perspective. The book takes a slightly different view by using distance and the experience of each traveler of moving fast distances with no other apparent sensations of motion. It all adds up to different but equal expressions of the science which Carl Sagan had mastered.

Both the book and the movie are simply fantastic, one not outshining the other as regards their scope and vision. Watch the film, it is a beautiful one. Read the book, it is equally beautiful.

98 of 131 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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