It took over a decade for Carl Sagan’s Contact to become a film. It turned out to be one of the most intelligent blockbusters of the 90s…
Yes, I can say this is my favorite movie of all times. And I felt reluctance on writing a review, such was my enchantment with this movie. I had so many deep thoughts about it I think I would never be able to express myself on a brief review. I cannot put into words what is for me a dreamlike sensation. The storyline was carefully arranged, so everything fits and the smallest of the details plays a pivotal role on the final outcome. The soundtrack by Alan Silvestri is also a highlight, which perfectly dovetails each scene.
This is so meaningful to me because it arises questions I have always been familiar with. First of all, “are there extraterrestrial life?” and the movie puts an extraordinary answer: “it would be an awful waste of space if it didn’t, once we have billions and billions of planets.”
Other questions I take from this movie:
- Which is the role of science in society?
- Is it shaped with financial purposes?
- Or is it merely the seeking for truth?
“The weight, sophistication and complexity of the scientific enterprise have grown over the centuries. Research has become one of the cornerstones of higher education, and fundamental to the development of industry. This led to a considerable growth of the scientific community at large, in the public and private sectors.”
Science is not a dispensable luxury. We need science for the advancement of our societies and to inform our education, improve our policies, and spur innovation. Science, as a common good, also helps all of us to make sense of and navigate the more and more complex world we live in. So when special interests threaten scientific evidence and long-term research and when access to and diffusion of science is hampered, we have to stand up in support of the scientific community.”
I highly advise you to read this full article: https://erc.europa.eu/news/scientists-power-and-power-scientists
The question Palmer makes is so truly coherent with our existence. Palmer Joss represents the man of faith on the movie. But not the blind faith, as of the man who exploded the machine which would lead Drumlin to Vega. Joss believes in God but is such a reasonable person, he accepts other points of view, because his connection with his faith is so strong he does not need to feel endangered by atheism, for example. He has had a divinal experience, so he believes. In opposition to the dogmatic and violent faith of extremists, which is basically grounded by misinterpretations of holy books.
So, the question presented by Palmer Joss: “Are we happier, is the world fundamentally a better place? … We feel lonelier, emptier… We are becoming a synthesized society.”
One thing got my attention: What is this “synthesized society” he talks about? How would it be? Are we already living this era of manipulation and alienation sponsored by pseudo science? Is the technological advancements making us better being or only lazier and dumber ones?
But the point that, for me, is essentially the most important in this movie is certainly the ironically break of skepticism of Dr. Arroway.
Dr. Arroway represents the typical genius scientist, an originally empiric being. She only believes in facts that can be proven and tested, having a sight of faith as a “collective illusion”.
Then she has a turning point experience. She goes to Vega in a highly technological machine. But while on Earth the experiment failed (because her capsule falls directly to the water) she had the most fantastical contact: she goes to Vega in an inter-dimensional tunnel, where she meets an alien form (dressed as his dead father) and she has the incredible opportunity of seeing the galaxy itself, what was indescribably jaw-breaking.
So, for human eyes that stood on Earth the experiment failed the instant it launched. But for her it was elapsed 18 hours, in which she made the marvellous contact.
When she tells people about what happened nobody believes. There is no proof. No evidence. And Science is skeptical.
What is faith? How can we prove it? That’s the essence of a feeling – it cannot be proven.
For me, questioning is fundamental. We should absolutely question everything – including our faith. But once we have an experience we question no more. 1 gram of practice is more than 1 ton of theory. All the theological books of the world would not be enough to make one atheist to become religious (or spiritual). Only experiment can bring us the undoubting faith.
And having faith is far beyond any religious construction. Religion is human. Human built these concepts based on their beliefs and sights. And if God, the Creator, allowed humans to build such Institutions maybe it serves a purpose, maybe he encourages our discussion even though he knows it leads nowhere, once our true connection is inside, above all concepts and readings, in a field that only our consciousness could take us: to experience itself.