Magazine article Anglican Journal

Contact

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Contact

Article excerpt

(out of five)

THE QUESTION of whether there is life beyond earth is again a movie theme. It is given vastly different treatments in two of the summer of '97's most popular films: Men in Black and Contact.

Men in Black is a cartoon-like comedy, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. It shows earth as a place where, at any given time, there are some 15,000 alien beings living among us. While most are law-abiding citizens, there are a few nasty ones who need to be arrested and (yuck!) splattered by the men in black--Jones and Smith--who work for a topsecret government agency. This is not a film for the squeamish or the easily frightened, but if you give it a chance, it's a fun romp through a familiar, yet bizarre, urban landscape where a whole strata of life is kept hidden from the the public. One of the coolest effects in this film--which is filled with wonderful special effects--is a pen-sized light which the men in black use to erase the memory of any who have encountered aliens. Flash--and your memory is erased, as easily as we often (and usually unintentionally) delete documents from our computers. Smith and Jones turn in excellent performances, and add in a first class sound-track composed by Danny Elfman, and you have great summertime entertainment.

Contact takes itself more seriously--much more seriously. Starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey, this film is adapted from a novel by the popular astronomer, the late Carl Sagan. It is a science-fantasy about a program called the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Foster plays Dr. Ellie Arroway, an eminent astronomer who is obsessed with listening for sounds of life from outer space. One day she hears an unfamiliar THUMP and discovers a transmission from a distant galaxy. The U.S. military and government get involved, and the transmission is revealed to include video information, and a complex code which, when deciphered, gives construction drawings for a machine to take a passenger to another galaxy. When Ellie is finally chosen to take the journey, she enters the machine (a huge gyroscope) only to return apparently seconds later, having travelled at the speed of light--a cinematic treatment of Einstein's theory of relativity.

What makes Contact of interest for religious people is how the film explores the issues of faith and science. …

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