(8,211)7.52 h 29 min1997X-RayPG
Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey star in this gripping story of a radio astronomer who receives the first extraterrestrial radio signal ever picked up on Earth.
Robert Zemeckis
Jodie FosterMatthew McConaugheyJames Woods
Science Fiction
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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Supporting actors
John HurtTom SkerrittAngela BassettWilliam FichtnerDavid Morse
Robert ZemeckisSteve StarkeyCarl SaganAnn Druyan
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.7 out of 5 stars

8211 global ratings

  1. 83% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 11% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 4% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Jason IlgenfritzReviewed in the United States on January 7, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Masterwork
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Carl Sagan wrote a beautiful novel. Robert Zemeckis elevated that novel into a beautifully finished proof-of-concept.

Jodie Foster and Jena Malone make Ellie a fully realized, three dimensional character with texture and depth. Matthew McConnaughey delivers the first taste of what he is capable of as a serious actor (what we will later see proof of in A Time To Kill and True Detective). David Morse and William Hurt play, by turns, Ellie's iconic father and father figures without which she would never have had the strength to see things through. William Fichtner leads a cast of wonderful irregulars as Ellie's colleagues and compatriots.

What this movie offers from it's first shot - one of my favorite in ALL of film - is a sense of scale and beauty.

Scale by means of the sheer immensity of creation.

Beauty in the way that all that creation is filled from the macroscopic to the microscopic.

As a young boy, this movie helped me see what kind of a father I would want some day to be. It gave me the phrase often repeated to my own children - "Small moves, Ellie. Small moves." Mr. Sagan and Mr. Zemeckis both grasp the essence of wonder native to the human spirit and weave the fabric of a film that, decades later, still maintains a timeless elegance and essential dignity.

Shooting at Arecibo in Puerto Rico and the Very Large Area in New Mexico lend the film scope and grandeur no soundstage or green screen ever could.

Ellie has become a role model. Life is hard. It takes will and a willingness to meet it both rigidly and openly. The trick is knowing the difference.

William Hurt as Hadden has been a role model of a different type. A reminder not to think flexibly without compromising one's core self, to forge new paths past impossibility, and never accept a thing just because others think it so - things like endings. The importance of playing on one's own terms.

Three generations have been effected by this film in my household. I trust that will extend over time.
103 people found this helpful
Renegade: Bold As LoveReviewed in the United States on February 4, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
No God? Prove it.
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If you’ve ever felt alone. If you’ve had sleepless nights questioning what we are; why we’re here. If you fear that we’re all that there is and blackness is all that awaits, do yourself a favor and watch this movie. If it doesn’t reach into your soul and give you pause, well, maybe blackness is all that you’ll find at the end as this movie is all about believing. If blackness is what you believe, then that’s okay.

As so many reviews here so eloquently stated here, this movie is an astonishing masterpiece from every pivot point. It’s beautiful. It’s moving. It’s passionate. It’s wonderful to watch. It has amazing performances and effects. Most of all, it has a sincere passion about who and what we are and why we’re here. All of that in a exciting, rollercoaster thrill ride into the great beyond.

There is no doubt you’ll love every minute of this as a movie. That’s great because this is so much more than that. This is a rendering of the last quest of a true skeptic of our existence here: Carl Sagan. He’s known for letting us know, in his unique phrasing, that’s we’re surrounded by “ billions and billions” of stars. As a scientist, he considered that with so many stars and planets, how could we possibly be alone? So, there he is, so smart, so sure that there is life throughout the universe; that we’re not alone. Again, there he is, staring up at the cosmos in his books and lectures surrounded by an infinite likelihood of other life, yet,,, so what? We have other life here on Earth. The people in town. In distant lands. Strange beings with fur and tails and even wings. But, we’re still alone, aren’t we? Without a God, without an afterlife, what are we? Not much and that is the eternal question. It is the eternal challenge: Faith.

I always felt that as a scientist he had to question and doubt the existence of God, and hence facing that blackness ar the end. But this work, based on his writings, shouts out the hope that science is wrong. That there are things we can’t comprehend. It was him leaving the door cracked open a bit at his end to let God in if God exists. Yes, that’s having it both ways, but why not? That’s fair. A good scientist needs proof. He was open to being proven that science is not the answer, it’s the question.

Watch the movie and you’ll marvel at how such a deep subject — the most important one we have — is treated so honestly. He made no proclamation or expressed no actual belief. He did acknowledge how there are things we simply can’t prove. As in one scene where the main character, a true skeptic, is asked by a man of faith if she loved her father. She has no doubt at all as she answers “Yes.”

Then he says “Prove it.”

Just like a higher being, love can’t be seen, heard, measured, quantified or proven it actually exists.

If you don’t end up loving this movie, prove it.

One final note:If ever a movie cried out for a. 4K release, this is it,
28 people found this helpful
Satisfied SallyReviewed in the United States on July 13, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Like the creator of heaven and earth isn't the ultimate ...
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I feel the reason 95% of viewers are uncomfortable with this movie is that they assume science is incompatible with a belief in God. What? Like the creator of heaven and earth isn't the ultimate scientist? What's wrong with you people? Every tree, every starfish, the shark, the sapphires under the crust of the earth are the culmination of billions of years of scientific knowledge. That's" who I am" is, to coin a phrase, What I do understand about scientists, is that they have had to put aside the fear of the overwhelming Presence in order to study it. It seems logical to me that a loving God would want his creation studied, not idolized, not put on a pedestal, not worshipped, but studied. It has always been my belief that when they run into the Creator, a scientist will have something interesting to say to God. Possibly something he hasn't heard from a bunch of bowing and fawning "forgive us our sins" types. How do we know that isn't exactly what he wanted out of these last couple of centuries? Some decent conversation, about the nature of molecules and how atoms dance and how the hind legs of grasshoppers hinge to get the most spring out of a hop. Eh?
57 people found this helpful
pugReviewed in the United States on October 13, 2018
1.0 out of 5 stars
Laughably Leftist Garbage
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"Once you see the subversion within your own culture that teaches you hate yourself, your people, your history, etc.etc. you start to recognise it's influence has become so deep it has become the culture it's self."
-Me, writing this review

I bought this movie to rewatch an incredible story about the possibility of life outside of our understanding. That possibility is something that can spark wonder and imagination in any curious person who appreciates the miracle of life.
This came out the year I finished high school so it's now a bit of an older movie but it could have been written by an SJW focus group ten years ago. ( It lacks the racial grievances of todays SJW. ) The absolute cartoon-ish hatred for Christians and White men portrayed in this film is so thick it's a sickening. I laughed out loud when the Hitler scene came up and it was right then it hit me just how bad this movie is. White men are not characters that drive this story but caricatures that drive a cultural narrative. All the while the film lacks the self awareness to recognize it's own savoir in the sky that sends his own prophet down to spread his wisdom and understanding in the form of mathematical revelation. The cultural narritaive is push so hard the scientific research is not even portrayed with any accuracy.
I made it about half way before I threw it in the garbage.
24 people found this helpful
MyThoughtsReviewed in the United States on December 22, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
One of the most bigoted movies I've ever watched
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I love sci-fi. Been a fan all my life. I have been watching this movie at least once a year since released. I am just drawn to it.
Every time I watch it, I'm struck by how well it constructs a young girl's passion for uncovering the secrets of the cosmos.......Until it starts making underhanded and bigoted characterizations of people of faith. It is truly disgusting and cringeworthy the more time goes by.
I've heard the term "Masterpiece" with Contact. For some reason, the creators of this movie had a chip on their shoulder with people of faith and this is quite sad.
It is sad that Hollywood puts out movies that on one hand draw you in with such a good story and at the same time back hand you with bigotry.
They can do better...not holding my breath, though...
5 people found this helpful
Nicholas D. GoughReviewed in the United States on May 23, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
We ask who, why and what. We are not alone.
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Every time I see this film, I am in awe. It is a beautiful story about our civilization and how it is struggling to understand who we are, why we're here and what will become of us. Ockham's Razor is most suitable for this film's premise and to help us in answering these questions until we discover the real answers.
"Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate"
"Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora"
"Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem"


"Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily"
"In vain happens over the course of what can be done with fewer"
"Things should not be multiplied beyond what is required"

Or, it's most common modern-day interpretation...

"when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better."

In other words, "Keep it simple."

We are not alone.

The force behind this story was Dr. Carl Sagan, perhaps the most insightful and significant astro-physicist ever. One of his most famous quotes applies to this film and our quest to know... "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

[I once met Dr. Sagan on a plane, late in the evening, back in 1979 or 1980. There were few people on the TWA flight I took from Kansas City to Dayton, but he was already on the plane. After I noticed him, he glanced up and it struck me who he was. I greeted him and asked if he was Dr Sagan. He answered that he was and since there was no one else boarding the plane, we spoke for a few minutes. He had a lot of papers strewn over the seats next to him and he had been quite busy working. I thanked him for the conversation and begged him to return to his work as I sat down two rows behind him. We shook hands and bid each other well. When I departed the plane in Dayton, he glanced up, smiled and mentioned it was nice meeting me. I was taken aback, smiled back and that it was a pleasure meeting him.]
9 people found this helpful
SaosinEngagedReviewed in the United States on August 31, 2011
5.0 out of 5 stars
Quite possibly one of the most underrated, underappreciated and misjudged movies in the history of film.
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I've viewed this film countless times. Each time I watch this movie, I'm left wondering how Contact is time and time again glossed over and seemingly forgotten. It's a true work of art; a beautiful, inspiring, self-affirming and hope filled tale of one woman's ambitious spiritual and scientific journey through the monumental discovery of alien life. This film does not pander to the blockbuster Michael Bay super-explosion loving crowd of "aliens vs humans'' plotlines that seem to dominate sci-fi, it's much deeper than that. This film is about how little, insignificant and infantile we are as a species, and how there may be millions of advanced creatures out there willing and ready to guide us through our evolution as a species if only we can find a way past all the troubling and petty politics and be receptive to them. Contact also expertly intertwines the seemingly contradictory doctrines of science and faith, and in the end shows how having a little bit of both may be the answer to the human experience.

What makes this film is the incredible performance of Jodie Foster and the emotionally resonant plot that humanizes her weaknesses as explainable personal tragedies early in her life. The culmination of the long and powerful story is one of the most beautiful and artistically vibrant scenes in any film I've ever seen. Truly, it's moved me to tears. I can count the number of films that have done this on one hand.

I have NO IDEA why this film has received so little recognition, whether on top all-time Sci-Fi films or top movies in general. The great Carl Sagan's brilliant story is brought to life in a semi-realistic portrayal of what would happen if a message from an alien species was ever received in modern times.

5 Stars.
109 people found this helpful
RDDReviewed in the United States on May 21, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Great Work of Cerebral Science-Fiction
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Robert Zemeckis’ 1997 film, “Contact,” adapts Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel of the same name. Sagan and Ann Druyan had begun work on the film in 1979, but it stalled so Sagan published the story as a novel instead. The story focuses on Dr. Ellie Arroway (played by Jodie Foster), who receives funding from billionaire industrialist S.R. Hadden (played by John Hurt) to perform her work for SETI at the Very Large Array in New Mexico. Arroway discovers a signal coming from Vega that is a rebroadcast of the 1936 Summer Olympics, the first signal strong enough to leave the Earth, reach an alien planet, and then be rebroadcast. The signal also contained 63,000 pages of data. Now working at a top-secret facility, Arroway deciphers the data which appears to contain plans for a machine that will transport a single occupant. Arroway hopes to pilot it, but a religious philosopher (played by Matthew McConaughey) argues that she does not adequately represent the human race. Unfortunately, religious terrorists ruin the pursuit of knowledge and destroy the machine along with its pilot, Dr. David Drumlin (played by Tom Skerritt). Fortunately, S.R. Hadden had funded the secret construction of a second machine, which Arroway uses to contact the aliens from Vega.

The film is a great work of science-fiction, more meditative and thought-provoking than the big sci-fi action films of the late 1990s. Sagan, a scientist and science communicator who encouraged people to see the beauty in the universe, crafted a story that delves into some of the philosophical ideas he touched on in his other works, such as “Cosmos.” Zemeckis brings just the right amount of heart to the story, humanizing the characters so that anyone can identify with them and their experiences as he finds the emotional core of the story. The boldest idea of all is that this film never shows the aliens. They communicate with Earth using our own signals, mathematics, and images that will be familiar to the people so that there’s never a worry about the aliens looking fake or dated or just being people in make-up. It’s a film about the journey of discovery and the joy of learning. That said, Zemeckis also created revolutionary effects for the late 1990s, but incorporated them in a way that drives the story rather than overrunning it. The effects hold up well for their time, too, and add to the sense of mystery. An all-around great work of cerebral science-fiction.
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