Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, sending plans for a mysterious machine.

Director:

Robert Zemeckis

Writers:

James V. Hart (screenplay by), Michael Goldenberg (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
1,408 ( 185)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 30 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jena Malone ... Young Ellie
David Morse ... Ted Arroway
Jodie Foster ... Eleanor Arroway
Geoffrey Blake ... Fisher
William Fichtner ... Kent
Sami Chester Sami Chester ... Vernon (as SaMi Chester)
Timothy McNeil ... Davio
Laura Elena Surillo Laura Elena Surillo ... Cantina Woman
Matthew McConaughey ... Palmer Joss
Tom Skerritt ... David Drumlin
Henry Strozier ... Minister
Max Martini ... Willie (as Maximilian Martini)
Larry King ... Larry King
Thomas Garner Thomas Garner ... Ian Broderick
Conroy Chino Conroy Chino ... KOB-TV Reporter
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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 (David Morse), who died when she was nine-years-old, leaving her 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 (N.S.F.) was pulled on her work, which is referred to some, including her N.S.F. superior David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt), 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 ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the development of this movie, the production crew watched 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) for inspiration. See more »

Goofs

When Ellie visits Arecibo in the early 90s, the beam-steering mechanism sports the Gregorian subreflector (the large metal ball structure). This instrument was not installed until 1997, shortly before the film was made. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Young Ellie: CQ, this is W9GFO. CQ, this is W9GFO here. Come back?
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Crazy Credits

"For Carl" See more »


Soundtracks

Spirit In The Sky
Written and Performed by Norman Greenbaum
Courtesy of Trans/Tone Productions, Inc.
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User Reviews

 
An excellent, thoughtful movie
7 March 2005 | by vtancrediSee all my reviews

This movie examines the premise of what would actually happen if we were to make first contact with aliens, and how that contact would logically happen.

The protagonist is loosely based on an actual astronomer named Jill Tartar. She is focused on finding other life almost to the exclusion of all else in her life. When aliens respond to the Earth's first interstellar broadcast, she is caught up in the hysteria.

What follows is an interesting observation of humanity rather than any aliens. We learn very little about aliens throughout the movie. Rather, we see how people react to knowledge of this magnitude. The movie examines religious, scientific, military and international reactions to the idea of humanity not being alone. I thought they did a fantastic job of representing the scale of reaction, from the fanatic to the skeptic, within the confines of a 2 hour movie. The movie mixes a thoughtful, sentimental tone with a good pace for action and excellent characterization. There is a somewhat arbitrary love story thrown in, but it is tolerable based on how it helps the protagonist's long-delayed progress towards a deeper understanding of her own humanity.

The movie ends in a poignant yet hopeful tone, understanding our human problems but accepting them. I think the message is that the alien contact is the catalyst that will help humanity mature and grow past our more dark halves.

If you like the movie I'd recommend the book. It gives much more insight on the aliens, and expands the scope as there are a number of scientists that participate rather than just one from America, and goes more in depth into the science. It also attempts to show that religion and science can get along. My favorite part is at the very end of the book where Sagan shows how God hid a message in the very fabric of the cosmos, that we could only read when we were ready. Be prepared however, the book is quite a bit drier than the movie and those who don't enjoy reading Discover magazine may have to dig in to get through the slower, more scientific parts.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | German | Russian

Release Date:

11 July 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Contact See more »

Filming Locations:

Mojave Desert, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$90,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$20,584,908, 13 July 1997

Gross USA:

$100,920,329

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$171,120,329
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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