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Blind: Minor Films   no photo.
TitleContact (1997)
Alternative/Original Title
DirectorRobert Zemeckis
CastJodie Foster Matthew McConaughey John Hurt James Woods Tom Skerritt David Morse William Fichtner
NotesThis film is about a real place and real people (see below), an institution which is dedicated to listening to space. One day they receive signals from a distant star. The film concentrates on the radio astronomer who leads the team of scientists working for S.E.T.I.... (search for extraterrestrial intelligence). This is not Independence Day but a film about realised characters asking significant questions both scientific and theological. One of the scientific team is blind (Kent Clark in the film) and is based on one of the workers at S.E.T.I., the physicist, Kent Cullers. In fact he was going to play himself until the part was expanded. Damon Rose writes: "The interesting thing about it is that we don't know the character is blind until right near the end - and even then its just with a quick flash of a white cane, no big deal is made of it at all (apart from a later clichT super sense reference when our blind character can hear something that the others don't hear). So, yeah, the framing, the scenes, the contexts don't allow us to realise that he's blind - we only find out 2 hours into this 2.20 mins film. " I've just seen this film and the first ten minutes lived up to my expectations but then the tone changed. I had expected a serious, well-acted portrayal of a scientific community on the edge of discovery. Instead the dedicated and obsessed young girl become the woman scientist who battles against the administration. Then there is a one-night stand with an ex-priest only there for plot purposes later on. Kent Clark, the blind character, we're aware of straight away in the handshake between him and Jodie Foster's character. He then becomes the blind person with exceptional hearing yet is still pushed to the edge of the events. This is partly because Foster's character is the focus throughout and hardly anyone else gets a look-in. Tom Skerritt plays the administrator who steals her thunder. James Woods is the security chief who pops in and out. And John Hurt is the mysterious financier. None of these characters is developed. In no time at all Foster's discovery becomes a media jamboree in the way that so many films broaden their horizon showing clips from CNN and others and neglect the essential drama. It gets worse. After a lightening quick decipher of the 'aliens' message done in the usual Hollywood style by a flash of inspiration and not hard work the film broadens out into the building of a 'space craft'. By this time I'd lost sight of the people involved. From this point, especially the court of inquiry and 'twist' ending, the inspiration and imagination has disappeared. The tone at the beginning that this was science fact has changed totally to science fiction. The problem is that we, the audience, know there has been no 'contact' with aliens. But the film tries to convince that this is a 'maybe'. Yet by the end Foster's character comes over as little more than one of those 'nutters' who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Science has been replaced by belief, and the atheist Foster has been converted. Zemeckis, the director, was also responsible for "Back to the Future" and "Forrest Gump". The former good entertainment without the presumption that time travel is probable or possible. And it is a pity that a work of fiction (Sagan's) has been set in a real scientific institute. Everyone else I have read on the film disagrees totally with my views. But then I didn't like Forrest Gump either. n.b. Hadden, the mysterious financier dies from cancer. But for more on the real fascinating S.E.T.I. and the real people who work in this field go to http://www.seti.org/phoenix/contact.html I think you'll be intrigued. After the novel by Carl Sagan. There's a review at The Women's Studies Database: http://www.inform.umd.edu/EdRes/Topic/WomensStudies/FilmReviews/contact-mcalister

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