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Contact (1997)

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

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

Get ready to take a chance on something that just might end up being the most profoundly impactful moment for humanity, for the history... of history. 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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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

11 July 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Contacto  »

Box Office

Budget:

$90,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gillian Anderson and Uma Thurman were considered for the role of Ellie Arroway. See more »

Goofs

The suggestion that a man-made Earth-orbiting satellite could have been used to simulate a signal emanating from a star is absurd. A satellite within Earth's or the Sun's gravitational fields can not carry enough fuel to maintain a position in front of a distant star for more than a fraction of a second out of every several hours. And since the signal was tracked from several locations on Earth, the sky would have to be filled with hoax satellites to fool more than one listening station. Moreover, the VLA alone would be able to confirm the distance of the signal from parallax. See more »

Quotes

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

Crazy Credits

"For Carl" See more »

Connections

Featured in Jodorowsky's Dune (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

The Twilight Zone
(uncredited)
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Played briefly during the opening sequence
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Foster Makes "Contact"
25 June 2001 | by (Salem, Oregon) – See all my reviews

All of the greatest work by the greatest scientists has been done while they were very young, when they were stupid enough to believe that two-plus-two-equals-five, and pursued it instead of listening to all of those who were much older and wiser who said Don't Waste Your Time. Einstein, it has been said, asked all of his important questions before the age of twenty-five, then spent the rest of his life working on them. `Contact,' directed by Robert Zemeckis, is the story of a young scientist, Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), who like Einstein and all the greats before her, has been asking questions and seeking answers since she was very young. And now, as a member of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) team, she is able to pursue her obsession with the mysteries of the galaxies and the infinite universe that surrounds us. Her job is to sweep the skies, using the most sophisticated equipment available, for a signal from deepest space. It may be her job, but for Ellie it's a labor of love, for she is convinced that there is something, or someone, out there somewhere, because otherwise, she reasons, what a terrible waste of space it would be. Ellie may be a dreamer, but she knows in her heart that it is the dreamers who over the years have been responsible for making us evolve, making us learn and grow because they are the ones who take insane, foolish ideas and pursue them. And to her, two-plus-two will always be five.

Ellie loves her job and believes in what she is doing, but it's been a struggle over the years, as she and others have had to constantly fight for the funding necessary to keep the project alive, begging for dollars from short-sighted, unimaginative people with vision that goes only as far as the bottom line of their budget book. It's been a tough row to hoe, and she's had to swallow a lot of pride over the years, but then one day it all pays off, when in one magic moment she hears what she's been waiting for all her life: A signal from a distant end of the galaxy-- someone attempting to communicate, to make contact, with the people of the Earth.

Ellie and her team soon realize that, whomever it is, they are using the universal language of prime numbers in their attempts at making contact; and when Ellie deciphers the code, she discovers something monumental in the bargain. But it's a message of global importance, something much bigger than she and her team alone, and she soon find herself fighting to remain a part of the drama that is only beginning to unfold-- the first interaction between human beings and an alien life form. And it's only the beginning of the adventure and the wondrous places this film is about to take you.

Jodie Foster gives a performance here that demonstrates what a gifted, talented actor she is. Her Ellie is convincing and believable, and someone to whom you can genuinely relate, no matter who you are or where you're from, because there is something universal in Ellie's passion and longing to discover the truth and to see beyond the veil of our limited mortal capacities. There's a strength to Ellie, born of a combination of intelligence and innocence, as well as tenacity and faith, and Foster manifests all of these complexities of her character beautifully, with a performance that should've landed her an Oscar nomination. In this role, she is simply as good as it gets.

As the young Ellie, Jenna Malone gives a terrific performance, also, which certainly captures the same spirit that we find in the adult Ellie. And there's a maturity she brings to the character that far exceeds her years. She was a perfect choice for the part, and if this is any indication of what she is capable of, Malone has a successful career ahead of her.

The supporting cast includes David Morse (Ted Arroway), Matthew McConaughey (Palmer), Geoffrey Blake (Fisher), William Fichtner (Kent), Tom Skerritt (David), James Woods (Kitz) and Angela Bassett (Rachel). Zemeckis did a brilliant job of bringing this film to fruition, especially in the way he allowed Foster the time to really develop her character, by giving her that extra moment at just the right time that ultimately meant so much in the final analysis. Too often it's those few minutes that wind up on the cutting room floor that make the difference between a good film and an exceptional one; and between Zemeckis and Foster, they took it to the edge by taking some chances to realize that combined vision, which in the end made this a great film. Thoroughly engrossing and entertaining, `Contact' will transport you to places you can only imagine, and it's all done with style and in a way that makes this a truly memorable cinematic journey. It's what the magic of the movies is all about. I rate this one 10/10.


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