Review of Contact

Contact (1997)
23 August 2008
"Contact" is an interesting film, which primarily isn't about whether we're alone in space or not. Mostly it seems to examine and contrast three distinct types of personalities: the idealist scientist (Eleanor Arroway), the religious believer (Palmer Joss) and the logical strategist/ manipulator (David Drumlin or Michael Kitz). The film bridges the first two types (in the end Arroway's motivation is driven purely by faith, while Joss' faith reaches beyond religion), while the third type is the one that's really in control of mankind's destiny (the manipulative Drumlin gets the mission initially, while the cold logic of Kitz and co demands they cover up what really happened).

Philosophically-wise, the film goes for a kind of expanding and "exterior" way of thinking. When Arroway meets the aliens (mind, in the guise of her dead father) they reveal that there are many civilizations in the universe etc but that mankind (in their own words capable of beautiful dreams and horrible nightmares, and always feeling void and alone) must find it's own way and in "slow moves". Also, they reveal that "the only thing that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other".

The film is rather tame and fairly predictable in it's stand. When Arroway meets the aliens, she could be talking to God. Returning to Earth without any solid proof, she doesn't convince about what was essentially a religious experience. The film exhibits this bridging of science and religion with ridiculous amounts of melodrama, in the usual slow-motion emotional-exploitation sequences and mellifluous strings. Standing as some sort of middle-ground between "2001, A Space Odyssey" (man reaching for the outwards) and "Solaris" (man delving in the inwards), the problem is that director Robert Zemeckis is neither a Stanley Kubrick nor an Andrey Tarkovsky.
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