Contact


2h 22m 1997

Brief Synopsis

An expert on interplanetary communication receives plans for a mysterious space vessel.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Mystery
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
1997
Distribution Company
WARNER BROS. PICTURES DISTRIBUTION (WBPD)
Location
Washington, DC, USA; Puerto Rico; New Mexico, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA; Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 22m

Synopsis

She's known it since she was a young girl, when she would magically connect with distant voices on her father's shortwave radio. She's known it since college, when she chose the search for intelligent extraterrestrial messages as her discipline. She's known it since she bargained for just hours a week of satellite time to sweep the heavens for evidence. And she knows it every time she stares at the countless stars dappling the infinite night sky... Something is out there.

Crew

Matt Aitken

Visual Effects

Tim Alexander

Visual Effects

Natalie Allen

Other

Rick Alonso

Graphics

Maura Alvarez

Rotoscope Animator

Joel Aron

Graphic Artist

Okan Ataman

Art Department

Doreen Austria

Graphic Designer

Jean Luc Azzis

Art Department

Jillian Backus

Visual Effects

Al Bailey

Art Department

Peter Bailey

Visual Effects

James Michael Balker

Costumes

Evelyne Barbier

Set Designer

Chris Barker

Other

Jacquie Barnbrook

Production

Bobbie Battista

Other

James Bell

Visual Effects

John Bell

Consultant

Phil Benson

Sound Editor

Jim Berney

Visual Effects Designer

Les Bernstein

Director Of Photography

Les Bernstein

Other

David Bifano

Other

Josh Bleibtreu

Camera

Kathryn Blondell

Hair Stylist

Jennifer Boardman

Consultant

Steve Boeddeker

Sound Effects Editor

Scot Boland

Casting Associate

Sara Bolder

Foley Editor

Marzette Bonar

Art Director

Judith Bouley

Casting

Steven J Boyd

Associate Producer

Joan Bradshaw

Unit Production Manager

Joan Bradshaw

Executive Producer

Mariko Braswell

Set Designer

Betty Brikowski

Costume Supervisor

Lindakay Brown

Adr Editor

Suzy Brown

Visual Effects

Max Bruce

Visual Effects Designer

Jimmy Buffett

Song Performer

Ted Bukowski

Special Effects Foreman

Brad Burbank

Visual Effects

Stephen Burg

Other

Don Burgess

Other

Don Burgess

Director Of Photography

Victoria Burrows

Casting

Bryan Butler

Consultant

D Walt Cameron

Art Department

Mageara Cameron

Special Effects

Colin Campbell

Art Department

Kiki Candela

Visual Effects Designer

Oscar Cartaya

Song Performer

Oscar Cartaya

Song

Rick Carter

Consultant

Marguerite Cartil

Art Department

John Cazin

Pyrotechnics

Gimo Chanphianamvong

Rotoscope Animator

Amelia Chenoweth

Visual Effects Designer

Mark Christofferson

Other

James Claytor

Set Designer

Buckley Collum

Visual Effects

Michael Conte

Art Department

Caitlin Content

Art Department

Eric P Cook

Special Effects Coordinator

Lou Cooper

Special Effects Foreman

Theresa Corrao

Effects Coordinator

Bruce Crone

Art Director

Yvonne Cuthbert

Visual Effects

Hallie D'amore

Makeup Artist

Bud Davis

Stunt Coordinator

C Marie Davis

Executive Producer

Don Davis

Consultant

Stefan Dechant

Consultant

Curtis Decker

Special Effects Foreman

Karen Dejong

Cgi Artist

Debbie Denise

Producer

Jeff Deyoe

Mechanical Special Effects

Jeff Doran

Visual Effects

Jill Dougherty

Other

Loring Doyle

Art Department

Colin Drobnis

Art Department

Ann Druyan

Other

Ann Druyan

Coproducer

Ann Druyan

From Story

Ann Druyan

Story By

Francois Duhamel

Photography

Tony Eckert

Foley Mixer

Teresa Eckton

Sound Effects Editor

Rob Engle

Software Engineer

Edwin Escobar

Special Effects Foreman

Roberto Espinoza

Special Effects Foreman

Matt Farell

Visual Effects Designer

Bill Feightner

Technical Supervisor

Geraldine A Ferraro

Other

Michael L. Fink

Visual Effects Supervisor

Thomas F Ford

Other

June Forester

Song

Kathy Forester Adkins

Song

Christy Forester Smith

Song

Doug Forrest

Art Department

Michael Grover Forster

Visual Effects

Steven Foster

Special Effects Foreman

Suzanne Fox

Adr Editor

Fortunato Frattasio

Art Department

Dominic Frontiere

Song

Edward T Gettis

Special Effects Foreman

Cellin Gluck

Assistant Director

Michael Goldenberg

Screenplay

Robin Green

Production Associate

Norman Greenbaum

Song Performer

Norman Greenbaum

Song

Gerry Griffin

Consultant

Dawn Guinta

Production Supervisor

Bryant Gumbel

Other

Glen Gustafson

Camera Operator

Allen L Hall

Special Effects Supervisor

Matthew Hall

Special Effects Foreman

Steven Hall

Special Effects Foreman

Clint Hanson

Visual Effects Designer

Catherine Harper

Foley Artist

Mike Harrington

On-Line Editor

Leon Harris

Other

James V Hart

Screenplay

Geoff Harvey

3-D Artist

Marty Havran

Cgi Artist

Amanda Hegedus-graves

Other

Darryl Henley

Storyboard Artist

John Holliman

Other

Clunie Holt

Art Department

Gray Horsfield

Visual Effects

Ivo Horvat

Matte Painter

Lawrence Hubbs

Art Director

Kevin Hudson

Animator

Paul Huston

Visual Effects

Sho Igarashi

Visual Effects Designer

Rodney Iwashina

Visual Effects Designer

Yu Jackson

Other

Richard Jacobs

Special Effects Foreman

Joni Jacobson

Visual Effects

Victor Jimenez

Digital Effects Supervisor

Arlen J Johnson

Special Effects Foreman

Tom Johnson

Rerecording

Joanna Johnston

Costume Designer

Janice Jones

Visual Effects

Dr. Ken Jones

Visual Effects Supervisor

Megan L Jones

Visual Effects

Stephanie Justice

Other

Ron Kallsen

Visual Effects

William B. Kaplan

Sound Mixer

Joe Karas

Special Effects Foreman

Kenneth Karman

Music Editor

Joanie Karnowski

Rotoscope Animator

Kim Keefe Forester

Song

Donna J Kelley

Other

Ian C Kelly

Video

Iain Kennedy

Production Coordinator

Kathleen Kennedy

Other

Steve Kennedy

Compositing Supervisor

Harry Keramidas

Editing

Larry King

Other

Martin A Kline

Art Director

Spencer Knapp

3-D Artist

Simon Knights

Graphics

Apryl Dawn Knobbe

Visual Effects

John Kohn

Art Department

J W Kompare

Editor

Luca Kouimelis

Script Supervisor

Richard Kriegler

Art Department

Erik Krumrey

Visual Effects Designer

Lisa Kshatriya

Rotoscope Animator

Tom Kuiper

Consultant

Robert Labonge

Camera Operator

Jon Labrie

Other

Bruce Lacey

Foley Editor

Gregor Lakner

Graphic Artist

Kevin Larosa

Other

Mary Helen Leaseman

Foley Editor

John J. Lee

3-D Artist

Kelvin Lee

Animator

Jay Leno

Other

Lyndon Li

Visual Effects Designer

Gregory Liegey

Art Department

Dawn Llewellyn

Editor

Tim Llewellyn

Other

Jon Lomberg

Consultant

Greg Lundsgaard

Steadicam Operator

Joshua Lusby

Set Designer

John Ly

Other

Kenneth Macinnes

Special Effects Foreman

Dev Mannemela

Other

Brian Marn

Visual Effects

Cherylanne Martin

Unit Production Manager

Bill Mather

Visual Effects

Joe Matza

Producer

Barbara Mcbane

Dialogue Editor

John W. Mcgee

Visual Effects

Grant Mcglashan

Art Department

Michael Mcgovern

Editor

Paul Mcinnes

Visual Effects

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Mystery
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
1997
Distribution Company
WARNER BROS. PICTURES DISTRIBUTION (WBPD)
Location
Washington, DC, USA; Puerto Rico; New Mexico, USA; Los Angeles, California, USA; Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 22m

Award Nominations

Best Sound

1997

Best Actress

1997

Articles

Contact


Robert Zemeckis was riding high with Oscar® wins for Best Picture and Best Director for Forrest Gump (1994) when he chose Contact as his follow-up picture in 1997. Based on the novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning astronomer and author Carl Sagan, it was a rare Hollywood attempt to create serious science fiction cinema. Call it speculative fiction, with a foundation of science fact, thoughtful conjecture, and idealism in a somewhat cynical world of modern politics. "Carl's and my dream was to write something that would be a fictional representation of what contact would be like," explains Ann Druyan, Sagan's wife and collaborator. "But it would also have the tension inherent between religion and science, which was an area of philosophical and intellectual interest that riveted both of us."

The novel had in fact begun life as a screen project developed by production executive Lynda Obst with Sagan and Druyan. When the project languished, Sagan transformed it into a best-selling book, which instantly renewed studio interest, if only to put it through another ten years of rewrites. As it neared a start date for shooting under the direction of George Miller (The Road Warrior, 1981), the producers, dissatisfied with the ending, pulled the plug and fired Miller. Zemeckis, who had earlier expressed interest in the script "until the last page and a half," was offered the film with the understanding that he could bring his own ideas to the project, including the ending.

Carl Sagan, best known to the general public as the host and co-writer of the PBS science series Cosmos, was one of the most effective spokesmen for the advancement of science and space exploration in the world. He had been intimately and passionately involved in the search for intelligent life in the universe and in the SETI project. The novel Contact was, in many ways, an illustration of his beliefs and a fictional format in which to debate his humanist take on science and religion. He was intimately involved in the screen adaptation of the novel and production of the film, determined to keep science and discovery a central part of the film, even though he had been diagnosed with cancer and was dying when Zemeckis came on board.

Robert Zemeckis was more focused on the earth-bound drama of the film's heroine, Dr. Eleanor Arroway (Jodie Foster), a young, passionate scientist devoted to searching for signs of intelligent life in the universe. She battles the derision of powerful members of the scientific community (notably the President's Science Advisor, played by Tom Skerritt), as well as the assaults of religion, military mindset, and problems of women scientists in a world dominated by men (numerous women scientists were invited to share their experiences and their thoughts on the portrayal of Arroway in the script before production began). Zemeckis and Sagan argued passionately over the script, and together they condensed the original novel, which sprawled many years and featured hundreds of characters, into a story centered around Arroway and the odyssey that begins when she receives a radio signal from the Vega system, over 50 light years away. It starts out simple, a series of pulses representing prime numbers ("the language of science"), and soon reveals a far more complex series of messages in companion signals. As the discovery spreads across the globe, the American government steps in and she fights yet another battle to continue her work and to maintain the integrity of the project.

Jodie Foster had been interested in the project from an early date. "The idea of someone searching for some kind of purity, searching for something she can't find, was something that was very close to myself. I process everything through my head first. I cope through my head." She had originally dropped out due to problems with the script, but Zemeckis coaxed her back with his take on the story and his revised script.

With all the science and technology, Zemeckis and the writers made room for spiritual debates (some of them painfully slight), political commentary, and a strangely tepid and inert romance between the thoroughly rational and scientifically-minded Arroway and new-age missionary turned spiritual guru to the President, Palmer Joss (played by Matthew McConaughey as a quasi-religious stud), "A man of the cloth, without the cloth," in his own words. While they seem to be at odds, Joss brings a rational voice to the coexistence of the spiritual and the scientific: "We're both looking for the same thing." What's less convincing, however, is a Presidential spiritual advisor who wields the power to influence policy. Arroway's guardian angel, who funds her orphan project and helps her through the political gamesmanship, is a reclusive, Howard Hughes-like billionaire industrialist played by John Hurt as a benign puppet-master. The blind astrophysicist Kent Clark (William Fichtner), Arroway's colleague and collaborator, may be named after a fictional hero (it's a play on Clark Kent, Superman's alter ego), but he's based on a real life blind SETI scientist named Kent Cullers. James Woods and Angela Bassett co-star as administration officials who take charge of the project when the discovery goes public.

The $90 million production was shot on location in New Mexico (at the site of the VLA, or Very Large Array, a field of 27 linked dish-shaped radio telescopes), Arizona, Washington D.C., Florida's Cape Canaveral, and at the world's largest radio telescope in Puerto Rico, in addition to the soundstage shooting in Los Angeles. Special effects were created by a combination of model and miniature shots and digital computer effects, which was in its infancy compared to the work being done today. Just as he had in Forrest Gump, Zemeckis manipulated real-life news footage and political speeches to fit within his dramatic world, and cast more than 25 real-life reporters and TV personalities to play themselves to give the media coverage of the "event" a sense of verisimilitude.

The climactic scene of contact pays tribute to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) with the added visual spectacle of 1997 digital technology. It's alien communication as a spiritual vision, which stands in sharp contrast to the nuts-and-bolts realism of the tools and machines of the earthbound side of the drama. "The machine in Sagan's novel was somewhat vague, which is fine for a book," said Robert Zemeckis. "In a movie, if you're going to build a giant physical structure of alien design, you have to make it look believable." The gigantic structure of interlaced rings which spin to create an energy field has the unmistakable look of an atom recreated in steel on a macro scale.

Carl Sagan died in 1996, before Contact was completed, but his legacy lives on in the film, not only in the science and in the idealism of Arroway, but in Arroway's dialogue. When asked if there is life out there in the universe, she answers: "If there isn't, it's a pretty big waste of space." The quote originally came from Sagan himself.

Producers: Steve Starkey and Robert Zemeckis
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay: James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, Ann Druyan (story), Carl Sagan (story and novel)
Cinematography: Don Burgess
Art Direction: Bruce Crone and Lawrence A. Hubbs
Music: Alan Silvestri
Film Editing: Arthur Schmidt
Cast: Jodie Foster (Eleanor Arroway), William Fichtner (Kent), Matthew McConaughey (Palmer Joss), David Morse (Ted Arroway), Jena Malone (Young Ellie), Tom Skerritt (David Drumlin).
C-153m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.

by Sean Axmaker
Contact

Contact

Robert Zemeckis was riding high with Oscar® wins for Best Picture and Best Director for Forrest Gump (1994) when he chose Contact as his follow-up picture in 1997. Based on the novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning astronomer and author Carl Sagan, it was a rare Hollywood attempt to create serious science fiction cinema. Call it speculative fiction, with a foundation of science fact, thoughtful conjecture, and idealism in a somewhat cynical world of modern politics. "Carl's and my dream was to write something that would be a fictional representation of what contact would be like," explains Ann Druyan, Sagan's wife and collaborator. "But it would also have the tension inherent between religion and science, which was an area of philosophical and intellectual interest that riveted both of us." The novel had in fact begun life as a screen project developed by production executive Lynda Obst with Sagan and Druyan. When the project languished, Sagan transformed it into a best-selling book, which instantly renewed studio interest, if only to put it through another ten years of rewrites. As it neared a start date for shooting under the direction of George Miller (The Road Warrior, 1981), the producers, dissatisfied with the ending, pulled the plug and fired Miller. Zemeckis, who had earlier expressed interest in the script "until the last page and a half," was offered the film with the understanding that he could bring his own ideas to the project, including the ending. Carl Sagan, best known to the general public as the host and co-writer of the PBS science series Cosmos, was one of the most effective spokesmen for the advancement of science and space exploration in the world. He had been intimately and passionately involved in the search for intelligent life in the universe and in the SETI project. The novel Contact was, in many ways, an illustration of his beliefs and a fictional format in which to debate his humanist take on science and religion. He was intimately involved in the screen adaptation of the novel and production of the film, determined to keep science and discovery a central part of the film, even though he had been diagnosed with cancer and was dying when Zemeckis came on board. Robert Zemeckis was more focused on the earth-bound drama of the film's heroine, Dr. Eleanor Arroway (Jodie Foster), a young, passionate scientist devoted to searching for signs of intelligent life in the universe. She battles the derision of powerful members of the scientific community (notably the President's Science Advisor, played by Tom Skerritt), as well as the assaults of religion, military mindset, and problems of women scientists in a world dominated by men (numerous women scientists were invited to share their experiences and their thoughts on the portrayal of Arroway in the script before production began). Zemeckis and Sagan argued passionately over the script, and together they condensed the original novel, which sprawled many years and featured hundreds of characters, into a story centered around Arroway and the odyssey that begins when she receives a radio signal from the Vega system, over 50 light years away. It starts out simple, a series of pulses representing prime numbers ("the language of science"), and soon reveals a far more complex series of messages in companion signals. As the discovery spreads across the globe, the American government steps in and she fights yet another battle to continue her work and to maintain the integrity of the project. Jodie Foster had been interested in the project from an early date. "The idea of someone searching for some kind of purity, searching for something she can't find, was something that was very close to myself. I process everything through my head first. I cope through my head." She had originally dropped out due to problems with the script, but Zemeckis coaxed her back with his take on the story and his revised script. With all the science and technology, Zemeckis and the writers made room for spiritual debates (some of them painfully slight), political commentary, and a strangely tepid and inert romance between the thoroughly rational and scientifically-minded Arroway and new-age missionary turned spiritual guru to the President, Palmer Joss (played by Matthew McConaughey as a quasi-religious stud), "A man of the cloth, without the cloth," in his own words. While they seem to be at odds, Joss brings a rational voice to the coexistence of the spiritual and the scientific: "We're both looking for the same thing." What's less convincing, however, is a Presidential spiritual advisor who wields the power to influence policy. Arroway's guardian angel, who funds her orphan project and helps her through the political gamesmanship, is a reclusive, Howard Hughes-like billionaire industrialist played by John Hurt as a benign puppet-master. The blind astrophysicist Kent Clark (William Fichtner), Arroway's colleague and collaborator, may be named after a fictional hero (it's a play on Clark Kent, Superman's alter ego), but he's based on a real life blind SETI scientist named Kent Cullers. James Woods and Angela Bassett co-star as administration officials who take charge of the project when the discovery goes public. The $90 million production was shot on location in New Mexico (at the site of the VLA, or Very Large Array, a field of 27 linked dish-shaped radio telescopes), Arizona, Washington D.C., Florida's Cape Canaveral, and at the world's largest radio telescope in Puerto Rico, in addition to the soundstage shooting in Los Angeles. Special effects were created by a combination of model and miniature shots and digital computer effects, which was in its infancy compared to the work being done today. Just as he had in Forrest Gump, Zemeckis manipulated real-life news footage and political speeches to fit within his dramatic world, and cast more than 25 real-life reporters and TV personalities to play themselves to give the media coverage of the "event" a sense of verisimilitude. The climactic scene of contact pays tribute to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) with the added visual spectacle of 1997 digital technology. It's alien communication as a spiritual vision, which stands in sharp contrast to the nuts-and-bolts realism of the tools and machines of the earthbound side of the drama. "The machine in Sagan's novel was somewhat vague, which is fine for a book," said Robert Zemeckis. "In a movie, if you're going to build a giant physical structure of alien design, you have to make it look believable." The gigantic structure of interlaced rings which spin to create an energy field has the unmistakable look of an atom recreated in steel on a macro scale. Carl Sagan died in 1996, before Contact was completed, but his legacy lives on in the film, not only in the science and in the idealism of Arroway, but in Arroway's dialogue. When asked if there is life out there in the universe, she answers: "If there isn't, it's a pretty big waste of space." The quote originally came from Sagan himself. Producers: Steve Starkey and Robert Zemeckis Director: Robert Zemeckis Screenplay: James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, Ann Druyan (story), Carl Sagan (story and novel) Cinematography: Don Burgess Art Direction: Bruce Crone and Lawrence A. Hubbs Music: Alan Silvestri Film Editing: Arthur Schmidt Cast: Jodie Foster (Eleanor Arroway), William Fichtner (Kent), Matthew McConaughey (Palmer Joss), David Morse (Ted Arroway), Jena Malone (Young Ellie), Tom Skerritt (David Drumlin). C-153m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning. by Sean Axmaker

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of People's Award for Best Actress (Jodie Foster) at the 1997 European Film Awards.

Released in United States 1997

Released in United States on Video December 16, 1997

Released in United States Summer July 11, 1997

Shown at Hamburg Film Festival September 25 - October 2, 1997.

Coppola's suit alleged that the filmmaker came up with the idea for a TV show called "First Contact," about mankind's initial contact with extraterrestrials, in 1975 and had a contract with Sagan to develop a script, but the series never materialized. In 1985, Sagan published the highly acclaimed book "Contact," and in 1995 Warner Bros. struck a deal with the author to produce a motion picture based on his book.

Co-producer and "Contact" author Carl Sagan died on December 20, 1996. In April, 2000 the California Court of Appeal dismissed Francis Ford Coppola's 1996 lawsuit against author Carl Sagan and Warner Bros. for a share of the profits from the book and motion picture, ruling that his claims were brought too late.

George Miller was previously attached to direct.

Jodie Foster reportedly received $7,000,000 for this film.

Began shooting September 24, 1996.

Completed shooting February 28, 1997.

The April 14, 2000 issue of Daily Variety contained the following statement from Coppola: I want your readers to know the falseness of the Carl Sagan lawyer's statement that I sued him "six days after Sagan died" (Daily Variety, April 13, 2000).

Released in United States 1997 (Shown at Hamburg Film Festival September 25 - October 2, 1997.)

Released in United States Summer July 11, 1997

Released in United States on Video December 16, 1997