|Image from: http://popcultureninja.com/2010/06/20/summer-flashback-1997-contact/|
Today I watched an oldie, but goodie with my daughter who I decided is finally old enough to understand the concepts presented by CONTACT. This film happens to be a favorite of mine and has some great lessons of writing in it. Now, I haven't read the book, perhaps I should, but I believe we can learn as much from screen plays as novels. At least the lessons I'm pointing in this post.
The premise for those unfamiliar with this movie is that MC, Eleanor "Ellie" Arroway (played by Jodie Foster), is a scientist who lost both parents early in life and is driven to find life outside the boundaries of our planet. She 'listens for little green men'--I believe--in hopes that she can one day contact her parents. Or perhaps just to find more. A purpose to this crazy existence we call life.
I could go through all the aspects of why this a great piece of science fiction, pointing out that Ellie was thwarted in every possible moment in her pursuit of truth, creating awesome drama. Or that she has a clear problem or desire that she's driven to master. But the thing I want to point out today are some of the things I strive to do in my own writing. Things I hope every writer tries to do, or would try to do.
The writer, Carl Sagan, did a wonderful job creating a story line that made people not only think, but also inflict upon us the stewardship we have as a people to work together. There are two clear groups of people in this story. The Scientist/Atheist and the Christian. Ellie struggles with the idea that there is a God. She doesn't have a working knowledge of how Faith works. Everything must be proven to her scientifically for her to believe it. A common concept with some groups of people. On the other side is her friend Palmer Joss. He is religious and has opposite goals, yet they are drawn together. They love each other despite their obvious differences. Perhaps she finds in him what she herself is lacking. Opposite attracting once more =)
So begins Ellie's journey. She ends up accomplishing her goal, only to find that she can provide no proof of her discoveries. This experience--for the first time in her life--provokes her to really contemplate the idea Faith. She knows beyond a doubt and cannot deny what she's seen, yet she cannot prove it. And in the end, she won't deny it. She will have faith. And Palmer stands by her side. He doesn't need her to prove anything to him because he knows what she's learned through her experience. He's empathetic. And also for the first time, it doesn't matter that she does prove it to people (my own thoughts).
Not only do we as observers of this story get taken on an emotional, relatable roller coaster, but we see how these characters can and do come together on equal ground, a lesson everyone in society is want to learn. It opens us up to different points of view, makes us think as well as feel.
The science in this story may out date itself, but the human struggle never will. I can watch this movie year after year and each time I'm pained with the struggle Ellie faces. I don't believe the same way she does, yet I'm driven to care for her. I want her to achieve her goals because she is a likeable character.
Have you seen this movie? What did you think? What lessons did you learn from it? Did you read the book? What differences are there between movie and book?
Thanks for stopping by!