|Written by Kim Wilson|
|Tuesday, 30 December 1997|
Embedded in the signal is both an audio and video signal, indicating that someone out there has been listening to us. Additionally, the signal has been encoded with a detailed message which turns out to be a schematic for a transportation device that can carry a human to Vega, or so it is presumed.
Questions surrounding theology versus science play an important role in the plot of this film, as it is decided that only a man or woman of God should be the one to represent mankind to the Vegans. Ellie, a pure scientist who claims to have no empirical proof of a God, is passed up for an opportunistic colleague (Tom Skerritt) who previously debunked her extraterrestrial research until a terrorist attack by religious zealots, delays the launch and eventually puts Ellie back in the driver's seat.
Employing many of the same technological advancements that helped his film Forrest Gump win an Academy Award, director Robert Zemekis breaks out his old tricks to even weave President Clinton into this film whose transfer to DVD is stunning.
Both dynamic and subtle uses of the Dolby Digital soundtrack and dazzling resolution and vibrant, life-like color saturation bring this movie to life. At the beginning of the film, the way the Dolby Digital soundtrack is taken advantage of is exceptional. Opening to a few credits accompanied by dead silence, the film then cuts to a close up view of earth with the sun peaking over its edge. At that moment, the sound hits you like a train. It is the sound of thousands upon thousands of radio signals being transmitted at any given moment of any given day, all around the world. Listening intently, you can hear various forms of music, multiple announcers speaking in different languages--all of which come at you from five different source points. As the image pulls backwards, we pass the moon, Mars, an asteroid belt, Jupiter and Saturn. The radio signals follows this movement with music and events from the 70's, the 60's, the 40's, and on back to the beginning of radio, until we reach the furthest reaches of space and are again left in pure silence.
Contact is much more than just a science fiction story, it's intellectual, thought provoking and profound. Rooted in the technology and culture of the present century, and the hopes and fears of another (perhaps greater) intelligence in the universe are explored in this film which will make a fine addition to your reference library.