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CONTACT Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

CONTACT, the beloved sci-fi drama, starred Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey.

Contact Jodie Foster

CONTACT came out in theaters 25 years ago today. It was by director Robert Zemeckis best known for Back to the Future and Forrest Gump. The film was based on the Carl Sagan novel of the same name. Contact did much to set itself apart from the era’s big-budget science fiction films.

Instead of depicting giant UFOs and alien invaders, Contact emphasizes its characters, specifically Foster’s Dr. Eleanor Arroway, and the philosophical and theological ideas associated with whether or not we are alone in the universe. This approach did not please everyone, especially in the wake of blockbusters like Independence Day and Men in Black. Many moviegoers were looking for another invasion epic, or at the very least, alien creatures depicted onscreen, which would have been a disservice to the film’s point.

Two-time Academy Award Winner Jodie Foster carries the film’s emotional weight.

Foster plays the endlessly curious and brilliant Dr. Arroway. Many of her colleagues in the scientific community question her devotion to the seemingly impossible search for extraterrestrial life. They see such a fruitless endeavor as a waste of her talent. However, her faith is rewarded when she intercepts a radio transmission from across the stars. Using prime numbers and mathematical patterns, explained in the film as the “true universal language,” the alien civilization transmits instructions to humanity describing how to build a manned spacecraft that can transverse a wormhole. Global controversy unfolds from skeptics in the scientific as well as religious communities.

Eventually, Arroway makes the journey, where an extraterrestrial who poses as her late father greets her. The being promises that in time, they’ll send another transmission before returning her home with no solid proof that the meeting took place at all. This ambiguous ending left a bad taste in many people’s mouths. Still, the true beauty is Dr. Arroway maintaining her faith in science and devotion to bringing the two civilizations together.
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