August Spiritual Cinema – Contact, by Carl Sagan

Contact Movie Poster

Please join us for Spiritual Cinema on Friday, August 10 at 7:00 PM. We will watch the motion picture, “Contact” (1997) which was written by the late Dr. Carl Sagan. The movie is 150 minutes and will be followed by a short discussion of some of the topics raised by the movie. Dan Flippo has volunteered to screen the movie in his home and has room for at least 14 people. Please click his address for a map or directions: 2650 Easthaven Drive, Hudson, OH 44236. Please RSVP to Dan at djf13@cornell.edu.

Comments by Dan:

One of the key themes in “Contact” is the conflict between science and religion. In the movie, a message discovered by radio telescope immediately causes conflict between scientists who would learn more about the message and others who find their beliefs threatened.  At the conclusion I believe the protagonist realizes that even science might require an element of faith.

“How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”

― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Description from Amazon.com:

The opening and closing moments of Robert (Forrest Gump) Zemeckis’s Contact astonish viewers with the sort of breathtaking conceptual imagery one hardly ever sees in movies these days–each is an expression of the heroine’s lifelong quest (both spiritual and scientific) to explore the meaning of human existence through contact with extraterrestrial life. The movie begins by soaring far out into space, then returns dizzyingly to earth until all the stars in the heavens condense into the sparkle in one little girl’s eye. It ends with that same girl as an adult (Jodie Foster)–her search having taken her to places beyond her imagination–turning her gaze inward and seeing the universe in a handful of sand. Contact traces the journey between those two visual epiphanies. Based on Carl Sagan’s novel, Contact is exceptionally thoughtful and provocative for a big-budget Hollywood science fiction picture, with elements that recall everything from 2001 to The Right Stuff. Foster’s solid performance (and some really incredible alien hardware) keep viewers interested, even when the story skips and meanders, or when the halo around the golden locks of rising-star-of-a-different-kind Matthew McConaughey (as the pure-Hollywood-hokum love interest) reaches Milky Way-level wattage. Ambitious, ambiguous, pretentious, unpredictable–Contact is all of these things and more. Much of it remains open to speculation and interpretation, but whatever conclusions one eventually draws, Contact deserves recognition as a rare piece of big-budget studio filmmaking on a personal scale. –Jim Emerson