An Oral History of ‘Contact’ the Movie #ScienceFiction

B462ba92f8a141b58c7f3f855ab47a2c6f jodie 2 rhorizontal w1100

Released in 1997, based on a novel by Carl Sagan, Contact set a standard for what intelligent, emotionally compelling science fiction could look like. Ahead of its time in the way that it dealt with heavy topics like isolation and the conflict between science and faith. Before the 25th anniversary Vulture spoke to nearly two dozen people involved in its making, including Zemeckis, Foster, McConaughey, Druyan, Sasha Sagan, and veteran producer Lynda Obst

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan — a world-famous astronomer and a former creative director at NASA, respectively — could never have anticipated the bliss and chaos that lay ahead when, sitting by a pool one night in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, they decided to co-write a movie about a “spiky” female scientist journeying to the center of the cosmos. What would it look like if we made definitive contact with aliens, they wondered, but only one person experienced it? It took Sagan, Druyan, and a litany of writers, producers, and directors nearly two decades to answer the question. Much like humanity’s interminable search to find intelligent life beyond Earth, the quest to make Contact was marked by heartbreak, hubris, meddling suits, and moments of sublime.

The problems were myriad. At the time, Hollywood was accustomed to journeymen and this was a story about a woman embarking on an intergalactic odyssey while her male counterpart stayed at home. Nearly every screenwriter and filmmaker who tried a hand at Contact’s script fumbled to make the lead character, Ellie Arroway, relatable to male studio executives. There were the film’s aliens, who didn’t kill anyone and didn’t possess any weird body parts like the otherworldly beings of most contemporary sci-fi films to that point. But somehow, rewrite after rewrite, Contact survived despite a hostile atmosphere and several failed attempts at liftoff, a bit dented in places but not destroyed. It finally touched down in movie theaters on July 11, 1997, with director Robert Zemeckis at the helm, Jodie Foster as its headstrong lead, and Matthew McConaughey as a studly Christian philosopher. Tragically, by the time Sagan and Druyan’s long-cherished dream had manifested, he wasn’t around to witness it.


Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in! adafruit.com/mastodon

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org


Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !



No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.