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Contact (Snap Case)
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After an astronomer discovers communication emanating from the star Vega, she leads an international team in deciphering it, and travels through space to contact the senders of the message.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Release Date: 3-FEB-2004
Media Type: DVD
The opening and closing moments of Robert (Forrest Gump) Zemeckis's Contact astonish viewers with the sort of breathtaking conceptual imagery one hardly ever sees in movies these days--each is an expression of the heroine's lifelong quest (both spiritual and scientific) to explore the meaning of human existence through contact with extraterrestrial life. The movie begins by soaring far out into space, then returns dizzyingly to earth until all the stars in the heavens condense into the sparkle in one little girl's eye. It ends with that same girl as an adult (Jodie Foster)--her search having taken her to places beyond her imagination--turning her gaze inward and seeing the universe in a handful of sand. Contact traces the journey between those two visual epiphanies. Based on Carl Sagan's novel, Contact is exceptionally thoughtful and provocative for a big-budget Hollywood science fiction picture, with elements that recall everything from 2001 to The Right Stuff. Foster's solid performance (and some really incredible alien hardware) keep viewers interested, even when the story skips and meanders, or when the halo around the golden locks of rising-star-of-a-different-kind Matthew McConaughey (as the pure-Hollywood-hokum love interest) reaches Milky Way-level wattage. Ambitious, ambiguous, pretentious, unpredictable--Contact is all of these things and more. Much of it remains open to speculation and interpretation, but whatever conclusions one eventually draws, Contact deserves recognition as a rare piece of big-budget studio filmmaking on a personal scale. --Jim Emerson
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Carl Sagan, with assistance from writers Ann Druyan, James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, slightly modified the original story by giving Dr. Arroway (played by Jodie Foster) a more personal adversary in another astronomer, Dr. David Drumlin (played by Tom Skerritt). At the beginning of the film, a brief exploration of Dr. Arroway's childhood (played by Jena Malone) is provided that helps to establish her purely scientific perception of reality that resulted in part from the passing away of her father, Ted Arroway (David Morse), who had also encouraged her love of science, astronomy and radio communications. As an astronomer, Dr. Arroway dedicated her work to the SETI project (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence), which Dr. Drumlin considers frivolous and potentially damaging to Dr. Arroway's credibility. With her governmental funding cut, Dr. Arroway eventually gets private funding after she approaches one of the world's richest and most influential men, S. R. Hadden (John Hurt). With funding secured, Dr. Arroway's search continues at the Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico. With her unorthodox method of personally listening to outer space static, Dr. Arroway suddenly and unexpectedly hears a bizarre set of sounds. She immediately gets her team, which includes Kent Clark (William Fichtner), busy working on analyzing the signal, which likely comes from an extraterrestrial source. Once verified, she announces her discovery to the world via the news media, to the disdain of governmental officials including Dr. Drumlin, National Security Advisor Michael Kitz (James Woods) and then President Bill Clinton (himself via archive footage). It also gains explosive response from very religious individuals who don't necessarily share Dr. Arroway's enthusiasm, except for Father Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey), whom Dr. Arroway met in Puerto Rico in a more than casual sense. The content of the message itself raises some very large questions.
What really brought Carl Sagan's vision to life in "Contact" was placing it within a contemporary timeframe. This included the use of many real events, people and places that included CNN, the VLA, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and many cameos from current politicians the television personalities (Jay Leno, Larry King, Geraldine A. Ferraro, Geraldo Rivera to name only a few). Also, Robert Zemeckis placed actors within archival footage in much the same way as he did with the film "Forrest Gump" in 1994. All of this, as well as superb acting from the principal actors (Jodie Foster, Tom Skerrit, Matthew McConaughey, John Hurt, William Fichtner and James Woods), great cinematography, wonderful sets and great special effects make this a brilliant film. Other memorable characters include Rachel Constantine (Angela Bassett), Richard Rank (Rob Lowe), the NASA Mission Director (Tucker Smallwood) and Joseph (Jake Busey). Some of the most memorable scenes in the film include Dr. Arroway hearing the message at the VLA, the public response, the political discussions, Dr. Arroway meeting S.R. Hadden, the machine, Dr. Arroway's relationship with Palmer, the pinnacle event and its aftermath.
Overall, I rate "Contact" with a resounding 5 out of 5 stars. In my opinion, it portrays many very probable debates and reactions if astronomers ever actually do discover intelligent extraterrestrial communication signals. I applaud Carl Sagan for his vision, as well as Robert Zemeckis and the many actors and other people involved with the making of this very engaging and compelling film.
Jodie Foster plays Ellie Arroway, a radio astronomer, desperately seeking signs of extraterrestrial life in the universe. This sign eventually manifests itself in the form of the above-mentioned message. What follows is a thought provoking journey of love, betrayal and political intrigue as she fights for the machine to be built and for her place on the maiden voyage. Her performance is full of enthusiasm and heartfelt emotion.
The DVD is positively brimming with extras including insights on how certain special effects scenes where created as well as three (yes THREE! ) audio commentaries from Jodie Foster, the director Robert Zemeckis and the guys responsible for the special effects. Jodie's commentary is informative and she puts herself across as a very intelligent woman. As for picture and sound quality you cannot fault this DVD. The picture is crisp and flawless while the sound is an audio treat for the Home Cinema enthusiast. It will put your Dolby Digital amp to the test with plenty of use of surround sound, especially during the scenes within the machine. The opening scene with the camera pulling away from Earth will leave you in awe.
In a nutshell this DVD is worth every penny and one that I will return to again and again.
One to show your friends just how good DVD can be.
What makes this film is the incredible performance of Jodie Foster and the emotionally resonant plot that humanizes her weaknesses as explainable personal tragedies early in her life. The culmination of the long and powerful story is one of the most beautiful and artistically vibrant scenes in any film I've ever seen. Truly, it's moved me to tears. I can count the number of films that have done this on one hand.
I have NO IDEA why this film has received so little recognition, whether on top all-time Sci-Fi films or top movies in general. The great Carl Sagan's brilliant story is brought to life in a semi-realistic portrayal of what would happen if a message from an alien species was ever received in modern times.
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