Contact

18Feb07

So what’s more likely? That an all-powerful, mysterious God created the Universe, and decided not to give any proof of his existence? Or, that He simply doesn’t exist at all, and that we created Him, so that we wouldn’t have to feel so small and alone?                                                        -Eleanor Arroway (Contact)

Almost 6 years back, I went through a sort of spiritual/scientific awakening phase. I drifted between agnosticism and atheism not sure what I really believed in. I read a lot in an attempt to expand my horizons and I guess what I’m today is because of what I went through back then. Carl Sagan’s works had and continues to have a profound effect on me. For the first time, it made me question things that people took for granted. You could say it changed my life, cliched as it is.

I used to be a science fiction fan what with having grown up on a staple diet of X Files and alien movies but somehow they always were incredulous. Then I happened to read Contact by Carl Sagan and boy was I stoked! Carl Sagan, for the uninitiated was an American atheist, astronomer, thinker, futurist and humanist. He is widely regarded as one of the finest astronomers ever. He popularised science through the widely watched Cosmos TV seies and won a Pulitzer for the book of the same name.

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Contact was turned into a film by Robert Zemeckis and I tried my best to avoid it because I felt that no matter how hard anyone tried, the ideas of the book could never be put on film.So reluctantly, I watched the film last night. All those emotions I went through when I read the book for the first time came back. Contact is a flawed but powerful film. Yes, it has been adjusted to hollywood sensitivities and has been dumbed down for a wide audience but nonetheless, the essence of the book still remains.

Eleanor Arroway (Jodie Foster) is an obsessive scientist who works on the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project and recieves a signal from outer space. Cut to the chase, the signal has layers; a signal to get our attention (a TV broadcast of Hitler opening the Olympics), a primer and the message itself. The message is an elaborate instruction set to build a machine of some sort. What follows is the political and religious fallout.

The film (and the book) is sort of a meditation on the importance of the human race and our never ending quest for meaning in the universe. Sagan, though an atheist held the human spirit in high regard and this is showcased here.  Beautiful and sometimes painful; the film probes our insignificance in the cosmos and how sometimes we try to delude ourselves using religion, spirituality and the likes.

This is a science fiction film like no other; no malevolent aliens, no autopsies and no action whatsoever. It’s a journey into the mysteries that lie at the core of the human mind as well as the universe.People are bound to complain about the movie being long and plodding but I feel the celluloid version has done justice to the book and to an extent, the ideas of Sagan.

It’s not everyday that you read or watch something that stays with you for a while and makes you look at things from a different perspective.

The film has a beutiful opening sequence.Makes you feel small. 

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12 Responses to “Contact”

  1. “I read a lot in an attempt to expand my horizons and I guess what I’m today is because of what I went through back then. ”

    So what exactly are u now???? 🙂

  2. @daedalus I’m not you fer sure! sangano!

  3. 3 bApHoMEt

    i remember the film because i peddled much of the arguments that Eleanor used against the existence of God as my own. especially the Occam’s Razor bit. anyways, thanks for the review bro. good one.

  4. @PS
    of course u are not me. I’m me. duh ? !

  5. 5 Ravenent

    “My deeply held belief is that if a god of anything like the traditional sort exists, our curiosity and intelligence were provided by such a god…on the other hand if such a god does not exist then our curiosity and intelligence are the essential tools for survival. In either case the enterprise of knowledge is essential for the welfare of the human species.”

    – Sagan, Broca’s Brain (amazing book, go read it now if you haven’t already!)

  6. 6 Ravenent

    P.S. Can’t believe you of all people just saw Contact… Fearing the moview wouldn’t come up to the expectations engendered by the book didn’t stop you from watching all those other adaptations, right?

  7. @baphomet Same here…I peddled a lot too…especially 1st year of college! 🙂 I particularly liked Occam’s Razor being used agains Eleanor in the end.

    However read the book if you haven’t already…it’s got a lot more ‘borrowable’ material! 😛

    @daedalus What ARE you again? 😐

    @Ravenent One of my fav books mate!

  8. Loved the opening video.
    /* some portion written and then deleted */ 😀

    Try using the open source tool Celestia, if you haven’t used it yet.
    It gives you the same sort of view as compared to the video clip, with desired control.
    However, there is a trade-off between the emotion and knowledge gained.
    This tool may not give you the exact feeling when you zoom out of milky way, however adds extra info to your “portal”.

  9. 9 baPhoMeT

    Bro…I’m your bitch. tell me about The Fountain. post a friggin’ review. will post Pan’s Labyrinth soon. too lazy right now. i will understand if you r lazy too.

  10. @Baphomet
    I tot u were my bitch ? 🙂

  11. @Bipin Itried downlaoding it…too big. Will check it out once I get net at home!

    @baphomet I’m lazy AND I have work but I shall post something on it once i rewatch it.

    @swen It’s the other way round…you’re everybody’s bitch! 🙂

  12. Contact reminds me a lot of an earlier sci-fi flick, The Abyss starring Ed Harris… both main characters meet the aliens face to face at the end.


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