As a young girl, she would leave her bed at night to sit at her
short-wave radio, seeking other voices to answer her own. Following the death
of her father, Ellie devoted herself to science, the one thing in her life she
thought could bring her the absolute explanations she longed for.
college, her unanswered questions drove her to look for voices from even more
distant sources, and she chose the search for intelligent extraterrestrial
messages as her discipline. Her ambition propelled her to the top of her class
and ignited a promising career. Despite scorn from most of the scientific
community and overwhelming odds to the contrary, she fought for just a few hours
of satellite time a week to sweep distant space for evidence of other
intelligent life. Through it all, Ellie maintained an unswerving conviction
that there is something more in the universe.
Then, one morning in the desert, something arrives to vindicate Ellie's
From the distant star Vega, a radio message comes to Earth and Ellie
receives it. As the countries of the world unite in an effort to decode the
transmission, the planet faces the message with equal parts hope and fear, for
contained within it are blueprints for a machine of intergalactic travel capable
of transporting its passenger to deep space. It could mean the dawning of an
astounding new era -- or certain Armageddon.
Amid the worldwide tumult, Ellie becomes a lightning rod of
controversy. Fighting for her rightful place as leader of the scientific
investigation, she turns to her one potential ally among those wielding
influence on the world stage: Palmer Joss (MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY), a respected
religious scholar and top-level government advisor. Years earlier, Ellie and
Palmer had shared a brief and passionate relationship that ended because of
Ellie's single-minded pursuit of her career. Now, estranged by time and their
divergent beliefs, but brought together by their joint passion for understanding
the message, the scientist and the spiritual leader find themselves struggling
with their renewed mutual attraction.
As the world wrestles with the questions raised by the message,
and humanity warily approaches the brink of a new millennium, Ellie vies to be
selected as the single representative who will leave the Earth to explore the
galaxies, seeking the unknown extraterrestrial source -- and becoming the first
person to make contact.
But her personal voyage will take her beyond theory, beyond knowledge,
beyond experience, to the realization that true vision is ultimately the union
of fact and faith.
Foster, whose poignant work in "The Accused" and riveting performance
in "The Silence of the Lambs" earned her two Best Actress Academy
Awards, stars as the headstrong visionary astronomer in "Contact," a
drama of discovery, based on the best-selling 1985 novel by Pulitzer
Prize-winning author and noted astronomer CARL SAGAN and directed by Academy
Award-winner ROBERT ZEMECKIS.
With such successes as the "Back to the Future" trilogy, "Who
Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "Romancing the Stone," Zemeckis has
proven himself a director whose films are embraced by critics and audiences
alike. Zemeckis now returns to directing for the first time since winning the
Best Director Oscar for "Forrest Gump," a film that was also named
Best Picture and that became the biggest box-office film of 1994.
Starring with Foster is Matthew McConaughey, who certified his position at
the forefront of exciting young actors with his commanding lead performance in
Warner Bros.' "A Time to Kill." Joining Foster and McConaughey is an
ensemble cast portraying the kaleidoscopic range of figures involved in the
international drama. Among them, JAMES WOODS co-stars as National Security
Advisor Michael Kitz along with JOHN HURT as influential and enigmatic
billionaire S.R. Hadden. TOM SKERRITT plays David Drumlin, Ellie's former
mentor who becomes her competitor in the selection of the planet's single
representative. WILLIAM FICHTNER is Ellie's longtime colleague and supporter,
Dr. Kent Clark, while DAVID MORSE portrays Ellie's father, Ted, who inspires her
love of astronomy as a young girl. ANGELA BASSETT plays Rachel Constantine, a
high-ranking presidential advisor who recognizes the fire that motivates
Ellie, and ROB LOWE appears as Richard Rank, the leader of a powerful
conservative religious coalition.