Are we alone in the universe? This question is the starting point for the film Contact (1997), starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. Ellie Arroway (Foster) is a woman driven by her thirst for answers. As a SETI scientist she scans radio transmissions, seeking intelligent signals from across the galaxy. When an identifiable communication is suddenly discovered, the first stage of contact is established — but this simply seems to raise further questions.
It is these questions that drive the film. Contact’s strength is in the exciting conversation it formulates for viewers to engage in — a conversation about life, the universe and everything. Who are we? What is ‘out there’? The cast speak of the film’s story as something grand yet simple and intimate. Although Contact covers science, politics, religion, technology and ethics, it is essentially a human story: it is about us. It also tackles some of the most sweeping questions about human life, meaning and reality — not something many films attempt! Contact will annoy some: both Christians who are looking for a definitive presentation of theism, as well as those hoping for God to be disproved. Love it or hate it, Contact will have done well if it gets you thinking and talking. What’s your take on it?
Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.