When I decide to watch a film, I usually do my homework first. I check out the plot of the film, I watch the trailer and I go through the director’s work. It was a different story when it came to watching Contact.
In last couple of months I have been following American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and his thoughts about the Universe. The man has a very entertaining way of explaining the most difficult scientific theories. In an interview about Interstellar, this guy was asked about his favourite science fiction film. And that’s when I was introduced to Contact. When a person of this caliber assigns this position to a film, it becomes unmissable by default.
So without knowing who directed the film and who wrote the script, I immersed myself, with very high expectations… Waiting to be amazed.
Before you read any further let me tell you that the following is not a review. It is my understanding of various themes the film tries to bring forward.
Arroway loses her mother during her birth and her father at the age of 9. She forgets to keep her father’s medicines in the right place so she thinks of her as the reason of his death. She has all the good reasons to believe that all the people she genuinely loves, leave her. As a young and enigmatic writer Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey) steps into her life, she proceeds with caution. She limits her involvement to such an extent that her relationship should never distract her from her primary purpose.
While Arroway has a very practical approach of looking at things, Joss is a spiritual person. Not just in a religious manner but also even in everyday life, he chooses his words very meticulously giving everything a deeper meaning. Joss might be the representation of those who believe in supreme powers beyond our cognition.
Science, politics and faith:
The film very profoundly tells the audience that in order to become an ideal civilization, humanity must accept the common grounds in faith and science. At the same time, faith is not to be confused with organized religion. The film highlights that it is imperative for a man to find his own version of faith and religion while politics is another major hurdle, which prevents humans from being a greater civilization.
When the lead character of the film, Eleanor Arroway finds her project in jeopardy due to the extravagant budget it proposes, Hadden Suit, a mysterious investor comes to the rescue. Hadden helps the protagonist more than once in her quest both financially and morally as well. And throughout the film the character has not shown any other interest than helping humanity. Even though the film progresses due to the efforts of Arroway, Hadden’s contribution to decoding the message sent by aliens is unparalleled. However, after Arroway returns from her visit to the exoplanet due to the lack of physical evidence, it is concluded that she never left Earth and the whole incident was a hoax played by Hadden.
Hadden’s story meets a very sad conclusion when all of his efforts are not recognized the way they should. But isn’t that the point of a selfless good deed?
Relationships (Part II)
Stuff changes when Arroway meets the alien. The alien takes a human form and appears as her father replicating several images from her memories. On Earth she finds it impossible to explain her experience to the world. The scientist in her accepts the most logical reason that she never left earth and what she felt was simply a delusion. But somewhere deep inside, she is sure that what she felt was real. She understands that her experience cannot be explained through science but through something else. This spiritual experience makes her believe in the forces, which our knowledge cannot explain right now but someday it will. She has no reasons but she develops a little bit of faith. And from being an atheist she becomes a skeptic.
I was completely satisfied with the film and I was just waiting for the credits to appear. As I said earlier, I had zero knowledge about the film when I decided to watch it. And I also skipped the opening credits because the first sequence is so awesome. When the first credit appeared and it said Directed by Robert Zemeckis, it was a wonderful surprise. Out of the 7 films of this man I have watched so far, not a single one has disappointed me. So in a way, it was not a surprise that I loved this one.
Where does the film stand?
The film is a science fiction, based on the novel by Carl Sagan. However, if you look from the point of view of Joss, it is a spiritual one. Arroway has that supernatural and vague experience because she needed to have one. Her devotion to find extra terrestrial intelligent life led her to a series of events which were destined only for her to experience and none other.
I had high expectations from Interstellar and it failed me. I felt the science of interstellar was great but the climax was too dumbed down and not scientific. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a brilliant film. But even after several viewings, (just like any other film by Kubrick) I cannot understand the film completely. Contact falls exactly in the middle. It is smart enough to make you think. It is sly at times. And sometimes it just teases you making you doubt. That’s what makes it even more enjoyable.