|Jodie Foster||Ellie Arroway|
|Matthew McConaughey||Palmer Joss|
|James Woods||Michael Kitz|
|John Hurt||S.R. Hadden|
|Tom Skerritt||David Drumlin|
|Directed by||Robert Zemeckis|
Contact, Carl Sagan's wonderful novel about Mankind's first encounter with extraterrestrial life, begins with a quotation from William Blake's poem "The Fly" -
Little fly, Thy summer's play My thoughtless hand Has brushed away. Am not I A fly like thee? Or art not thou A man like me? For I dance And drink and sing, Till some blind hand Shall brush my wing.
Robert Zemeckis' film version begins with a sequence that might be seen as the visual equivalent of Blake's mystical words: the camera pans out from our small blue world, gliding past planets and stars, meeting galaxy after galaxy, until finally ending where it begun - inside the eye of a child. Man, it would seem, is indeed as insignificant - or as important - as Blake's fly, waiting for some "blind hand" to brush it's wing. It is certainly one of the most eye-catching openings to any film in many a year, and the rest of Contact is hard-pressed to keep up this level of creativity.
But creativity is something that Zemeckis knows all about (just ask Marty McFly), and there are great things to savour here: the otherworldly rumble of the radio message from our intergalactic neighbours, when first heard, sends chills up and down the spine; John Hurt's explanation of what the message is really saying, and that awesome machine is truly something to see.
I'm not as convinced on the Palmer Joss can of worms, but you could liken this to the reaction of a lot of people to the Ian Malcolm character in Jurassic Park and come away thinking that Joss - the Christian "teacher" in Contact - is essential to the theme of belief at the film's core. I just wonder what Sagan would have thought of it all.
In the final analysis, it is refreshing to see that, in an age when everything seems to flash and bleep in forty different colours, a film like this one can get made.
© Text - Filmfreak.be