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Contact: Religious Themes in the Film

This research will examine how the motion picture Contact deals with the God-concept. The research will set forth the context in which the film's religious theme surfaces and then discuss the pattern of ideas and events that point to the centrality of that theme as well as the means by which the theme is elaborated over the course of the story.

The fact that Contact can be interpreted as an examination of the human encounter with God is latent in both the resolution of the story line and the attributes of character informing the narrative. This is the case even though the manifest content of the film is that of a science-fiction adventure story. Such an interpretation can be justified by the fact that the narrative action begins when astrophysicist Ellie Arroway realizes that the radiotelescope transmissions being received contain cryptographic instructions for building a device suited to space travel across many light years and (presumably) galaxies. Once and for all the question of whether "we are not alone" is resolved. But that information is important because it carries myriad cosmological implications.

Ellie has a serious scientific purpose and mind-set: Her life is her career, and she relies on facts and science, not intuition or emotion, still less religion. Memories of her father are learning memories, as if the emotional bridge to him was mediated by transmission of scientific knowledge and as if her career is a tribute to him. She is specifically opaque to attempts by the Reverend Palmer Joss to caution against a technology without spiritual values. What science, about which she is passionate, cannot tell her she does not accept as important. The Protestant theologian Paul Tillich would disagree that Ellie is opaque to spirituality. Every rational being, he says, is religious, and no one atheistic: "If doubt appears, it should not be considered as the negation of faith, but as an element which was always and will alway...

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Contact: Religious Themes in the Film. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:27, August 03, 2020, from