Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Contact (1997)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Contact (1997)

In director Robert Zemeckis' space exploration, sci-fi drama, based on Carl Sagan's best seller:

  • the stunning opening sequence - a long, zooming pull back shot from the planet Earth past other planets and the end of our solar system (accompanied by TV and radio transmissions on the soundtrack that stretched back in time) - culminating as a bright dot of reflected 'sun'-light on the iris of nine year-old Ellie Arroway (later Jodie Foster), in her bedroom speaking on her HAM radio and delivering a greeting "C-Q" ("seek you") while searching for alien contact
  • as an astrophysicist, Ellie's research with SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute) at Arecibo in Puerto Rico, and the moment of first "contact" - when Ellie joyously said: ("Hydrogen times pi. Told ya!...Let me hear it. Listen to that. Make me a liar, Fish!")
  • the overwhelming response to the alien "Message from Vega" (a signal composed of a sequence of prime numbers from a distant star system 26 light-years away) sent to researchers, including Ellie, working on the project at the Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico, a facility with 27 large radio antenna dishes; huge crowds decended into the area: ("Like a bolt from the blue it came. 'The Message from Vega"' has caused thousands of believers and non-believers to descend upon the VLA facility here in the remote desert of New Mexico. Many have come to protest, many to pray but most have come to participate in what has become the best show in town")
  • the tense scene of a security breach and suicide bombing by a religious fanatic (Jake Busey) during the launch of a transport pod at Cape Canaveral, when Ellie watched on TV monitors and alerted security and astronaut David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt) to the problem: ("We've got a security breach here. Right behind you. The tall guy, the technician. See him? He's not supposed to be there. David, he's got something in his hand!")
  • the scene of Ellie's space travel in a second mechanical transport pod in a series of rapidly-rotating rings (constructed in secret on Hokkaido Island), when she voyaged through a quadruple system of wormholes to reach Vega
  • Ellie's first moving description ("They should've sent a poet") and reaction to what she was seeing after her arrival, in a reverential account, as the camera zoomed into her eye: ("Some celestial event. No, no words. No words to describe it. Poetry! They should've sent a poet. So beautiful. So beautiful. I had no idea. I had no idea...")
  • the heartwarming, poignant scene when agnostic scientist Ellie traveled to the distant planet of Vega where, after her mystical journey and arrival on a surreal beachfront, she saw her long-dead father Theodore "Ted" (David Morse) - he told her as a proxy for the alien beings: ("You're an interesting species, an interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness each other")
Ellie's Testimony Before Congress
  • the scene of Ellie's testimony to a Congressional Committee about her experience, especially to a very skeptical NSA official Michael Kitz (James Woods) who headed up the investigation: ("I had an experience. I can't prove it, I can't even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real. I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever. A vision of the universe that tells us undeniably how tiny and insignificant and how rare and precious we all are. A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves, that we are not - that none of us are alone. I wish I could share that. I wish that everyone, if even for one moment, could feel that awe and humility and hope. That continues to be my wish.")

Zoom Pull-Back

Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster)

Huge Crowds at VLA in New Mexoco

Report of Security Breach and Suicide Bombing

Space Travel

Ellie Meeting with Deceased Father


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