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SYNOPSIS:
Science has fascinated Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) since her childhood days playing with shortwave radio communications, encouraged by her loving father, who dies all too soon. She turns her fascination into a career as an astronomer, searching for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence along with longtime colleague, Kent Clark (William Fichtner). But when Government funding dries up, she turns to eccentric billionaire businessman S.R. Haden (John Hurt) who provides the funds, for reasons of his own. One night in the desert, she receives a signal from the distant star, Vega, that may have been sent by intelligent life. Immediately the government, headed by National Security Advisor Michael Kitz (James Woods), gets involved. For inside that signal are the blueprints for creating an intergalactic probe capable of sending a traveler to another world. As she fights to retain control of her discovery from Kitz and her former boss, David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt), Ellie turns to a former acquaintance, one-time lover and now Presidential spiritual advisor, Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey), who supports her, but also questions her belief in science over that of religion. Ellie finds herself competing to be Earth's first ambassador to another world, and she again receives support from Hadden. But even when the first intergalactic journey by a human being is made, the big question remains.

"The first shot of the earth from space is familiar enough, but then we begin a flight backwards into distant space, as we hear the mass of music and noise that our communications are spewing out, thinning gradually. As we draw further away from earth, we seem to be going backwards in time judging by the snatches of news and music that is skidding through space, and we are passing through multilayered, multicoloured galaxies in a wondrous journey while the soundtrack backtracks our globeís history until the very first man-made transmissions, not that long ago in terms of universal events, but long ago for us. At that still-point, our senses respond to the universe and we begin to understand the awesome magnetism that drew the late Carl Sagan to a lifetime fascination with the unfathomable eternity of space in which we play out our little lives. This opening sequence in Contact sets the scene for the entire film brilliantly and is deeply affecting - at least to those who share some of Saganís profound curiosity about Life (as distinct from life). I am one such. And a proud fan of Saganís works, currently reading his last book, as it happens. For me, the film of Contact had to do something more profound than be faithful to the book: it had to be faithful to Saganís integrity and intelligence. Iím very pleased to say it is. Jodie Foster as Ellie carries Saganís voice, the voice of reason and the drive of a determined search for answers to enormous questions. Best of all, the film balances characterisation with the adventure of space discovery, and harnesses advanced filmmaking techniques for the best possible result in entertainment with meaning."
Andrew L. Urban

"From the opening scenes, where silence contrasts a pounding confusion of sounds, images and colours, it is clear that Robert Zemeckisí breathtaking film is about to leave an overwhelming impact. Posing the kind of fascinating questions that have intrigued generations, Carl Saganís masterful story, brought brilliantly to the screen, is a delicious morsel in the banquet of discussion about extraterrestrial life and the conflict between scientific knowledge and faith. Jodie Foster is extraordinary. She just seems to get better and better. Her passionate performance as Ellie overwhelmingly engages, delivering yet another performance worthy of acclaim. Her unfaltering conviction as a scientist; her vulnerability; her honesty as a human being: Foster gives Ellie the multi-dimensions of a totally credible character, through which we are able to look at the big picture. Contact boasts a strong cast of diverse characters. With thoughtful, innovative direction, it seeps into our psyche, enabling us to truly perceive ourselves as the minute beings that we are. It is a perceptive and sensitive glance that shows the power struggles, the different agendas and the frightening circus-like hangers-on. The special effects are amazing and stunningly shot: the bomb explosion is one that splinters across the screen with astounding reality. As for the much awaited journey to galaxies beyond time, let your imagination soar and allow the subconscious to be overwhelmed. Contact is a superb film that will intrigue and sweep you away on the trip of a lifetime."
Louise Keller

"The great mystery of days gone by is: what lay beyond our stars, and is there life out there? An attempt to answer this question, cinematically, has been made for decades, sometimes seriously but mostly not. After all, if aliens do exist, where are they and what are they? Are they green men or those morons from tripe that was last year's Independence Day? Carl Sagan attempted to pose such questions in Contact, which was initially to be filmed by Australia's George Miller, no less. Now, Oscar winner Robert Zemeckis has taken a considerable risk in persuading Hollywood's biggest studio to pour money into a science fiction drama that is both philosophical and intellectual, runs over 2 hours, contains subtle special effects, and contains no action sequences. I'm glad he did, because what he has created is simply extraordinary on any level. This is a movie that questions what many scientists refute. It examines, with enormous skill, the relationship between science and religion, and explores the notion of science and what it represents in a world built on logic. Foster, whose arresting performance as Ellie, propels the film into remarkable, emotional territory, plays a scientist obsessed with knowledge, the knowledge that within the sparseness of the universe, life exists beyond our own planet, which after all, is insignificant in the scheme of things. Plagued by memories of loss, Ellie is one of the most complex female characters to appear in a studio film, and we as audience members, are invited to participate in a most extraordinary of journeys."
Paul Fischer

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Read edited extract from the production notes, in FEATURES


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(US)

CAST: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Angela Bassett

DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis

PRODUCERS: Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey

SCRIPT: James V. Hart, Michael Goldenberg (based on the novel by Carl Sagan; based on a story by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Don Bufgess

EDITOR: Arthur Schmidt

MUSIC: Alan Silvestri

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ed Verreaux

RUNNING TIME: 144 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 16, 1997







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