Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Contact (1997) [PG] ****

Science-fiction stories about extraterrestrials typically involve aliens traveling to Earth, or humans traveling to another world and encountering aliens. Contact is unique in that an alien intelligence twenty-six light years away receives our earliest TV broadcast, and then transmits it back to us along with instructions for assembling a machine that can travel interstellar distances virtually instantly.

While the interstellar journey and alien contact are fascinating, Contact uses them to reconcile the argument between science and religion over the existence of God. The position of science is that physical proof is required before God's existence can be accepted. The position of religion is that since God is not physical, there can be no direct physical evidence of God's existence, and we must accept it on faith. The way Contact reconciles these two positions is by having a scientist experience interstellar travel in the machine, meet an alien intelligence, return to Earth without any evidence, describe the subjective experience, and then endure the disbelief, ridicule and contempt that inevitably follow whenever an unbelievable personal experience is shared.

This is exactly what happens whenever someone has taken an inner journey and experienced a religious conversion or a spiritual awakening. As anyone who has ever attempted to share such an experience can attest: For one who has had the experience, no explanation is necessary; for one who has not had the experience, no explanation is possible. Whether you agree with Carl Sagan that human beings are the result of natural evolution on Earth, and that human consciousness is the culmination of that evolution, or you believe that human consciousness is the foundation of the human species, the divine spark that makes us unique in the universe, I predict you'll find Contact interesting and intellectually stimulating. 

Labels: drama, mystery, sci-fi, thriller
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 62/100
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=68, viewers=64)

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