Friday, August 2, 2013


Starring: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, James Woods 
Written by: Carl Sagan
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Year: 1997

Rating: * * * *   Stars           +      (Fan Bonus -)       Total: * * * * 

An astronomer receives a radio message that is alien in origin. How does humanity cope with the knowledge that we are not alone?

If you're looking for a movie with martians coming to Earth, you'll want to pass on this film. If, however, you're looking for a well crafted story that examines what contact with an extra-terrestrial race would be like, based on sound scientific principles, and chock full of dramatic emphasis, than look no further.

Jody Foster plays Dr. Arroway, a radio astronomer who's dedicated her career to S.E.T.I. work. After years of disappointment  shut downs and relocations, she receives a coded message that seems to come from outer space.

The government quickly moves in, and decoding efforts reveal a signal from Earth that was returned back. Further decoding discovers schematics to build a machine presumed to be a transport of some type. Meanwhile, the program is demonized by religious fanatics and taxpayers who want their money spent on more important issues. 

Matthew McConaughey plays Palmer Joss, a religious author who had a brief relationship with Arroway, only to reunite years later to understand the religious implications of the message and the meaning of life elsewhere.

Where this film is truly brilliant is its study of the war of faith vs science, in which neither is vilified. Instead, it illustrates that Dr. Arroway, a self-professed atheist and woman of science is in fact, a person of faith. Her faith in science, reason and logic carries her throughout the film to the climatic ending when she must take it on faith the whole experience with the contact was real, despite no evidence whatsoever.

Based on a novel by Carl Sagan, the film faithfully interprets Sagan's hopeful vision of an alien contact, using our technology and current scientific knowledge to finally answer the age old question of are we alone?


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