Carl Sagan’s Contact

Pretty much everyone knows that when you compare a book to a movie, the book wins 99.99% of the time. Contact is no exception, but in this case, I think the movie is pretty darn good too. The content and the depth of the book are much greater, as to be expected, but also the science is impeccable. The movie was made many years later and Sagan (one of the original screenplay writers) understood the audience needed to watch a somewhat different kind of story, but since he wasn’t around for the final edit, there are some errors in the science. By Hollywood standards though, it’s still probably better than anything else out there.

The movie, unfortunately, leaves many of the most exciting scientific revelations gleaned from the message out of the picture, but gives a more simplified and movie-friendly, and pathos heavy, tale of Ellie and a few people around her. If the movie were true to the book, it would have been a trilogy and cost 400 million dollars. Naturally, the ending is wildly different and the revelation at the end of the book stood the hairs up on the back of my neck. The movie ending was almost a tear-jerker.

Robert Zemeckis did a fine job directing and the cinematography was spot on. (Possible spoiler in this paragraph and video, read/watch at your own risk) In fact, one of my favorite scenes (in any film) that very subtly and elegantly uses some effect trickery to enhance and empower a scene without being cheesy or exploding anything, was when young Ellie is running up the stairs to fetch some medicine, urgently.

So, if you haven’t read the book, you probably should. If you liked the movie, you definitely should. If you read the book and haven’t seen the movie, just keep your expectations in check and go for it, you won’t regret it.

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