I’ve seen Contact a few dozen times now and I honestly don’t know what warrants such universal praise among Sagan devotees. Were we in different theaters, on different planets? Are they blind? Am I?
It's been some time now and I have yet to see a re-edit, re-release, special edition, tenth anniversary, redeaux... something that would indicate this movie was anything but a lowest-bidder contract job. There are no deleted scenes, no penetrating commentary, and absolutely no one talks about it some ten years later. It is completely forgettable. No one bothers to deconstruct its hidden meaning, its symbolism, its camera-work, because there is nothing to deconstruct. No one cares because there is nothing to care about.
What Contact lacked in content it made up for in superficiality.
Of course not.
But what does that matter when not even Arroway herself has the courage of her convictions. She's spineless in the face of political opposition, and she's embarrassed by her atheism. As a result she's easily crushed by the inquisition. She's left a slobbering cry baby whose only recourse is to make tearful appeals of personal revelation.
Pause. Blank stare.
…Does that answer your question, Reverend?
And how did Tom Skerritt, an otherwise fine actor, get away with emphasizing the title of the movie… in the movie? It's the cheapest trick in the book and no director worth his salt would have allowed it.
People who are nuts now, are nuts now, and no amount of nicety is going to reach them as well as a good ol' fashioned cutting remark about their stupid, violent, bronze-age desert god. Billions and billions of stars can't touch the visceral reaction of humor or the courageous nature of blasphemy, or the nonnegotiable quality of heresy. Everyone needs a little 'fuck you[r god]' in a relationship. (In the 'Panel Discussion' video below, time index ~45:00, it's too bad that Richard Dawkins wasn't permitted to finish his thought. I would like to have heard what he had to say.)
This film could have stood next to 2001 (especially 2001), Solaris, The Andromeda Strain, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Blade Runner... really important hand-made classics that enrich the human condition and advance our culture. It could have been a film that endures and grows in importance over time. Instead, it's an 'instant classic,' sort of like instant oatmeal; moderately filling, but totally unsatisfying.
You won’t catch me apologizing for this tripe.
But Ellie can neither die or fade away into 'healthy grant' oblivion because she still has work to do. She has to find a way to redeem both herself, and the planet. The book aliens give her that. The movie aliens hang her out to dry.
...And what the hell's going on with her face?