Prayer Focus
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Movie Review


Reviewed by: Richard Fangrad

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
143 min.

Starring: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, John Hurt, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, David Morse, William Fichtner, Rob Lowe, Angela Bassett / Director: Robert Zemeckis / Released by: Warner Bros.

With the recent landing of the “Pathfinder” spacecraft on Mars, the celebration of a supposed UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico 50 years ago, and a string of movies about visitors from other planets in recent years, more and more people are questioning whether we are “alone” in the universe.

“Contact” is based on the late Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel of the same name. Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), a scientist with the SETI program (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) searches the stars for intelligent life by renting time on huge radio telescopes and listening to the radio frequency energy coming from those distant stars for any signal that might be “non-random”. She’s looking for a signal that carries information. One day, she gets one. Her team quickly springs into action, recording and beginning to decipher the message. Before long the whole world is caught up in the excitement. Eventually it is revealed the massive amount of information is in the form of blueprints for an immense space/time travel machine for one human. Who gets to go, is decided at the highest levels of government. There’s no real surprises in the plot until near the end… and I won’t give that away.

Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” “Back To The Future”) directs. As is now expected with his films, the special effects are amazing, especially the opening sequence. The acting by all of the main cast is superb and the story does an adequate job of keeping us interested in what’s happening to the characters.

Despite the high quality of the moviemaking there are some very serious negatives from a Biblical/Christian point of view. Some things are obvious: occasional swearing and taking the Lord’s name in vain throughout the movie, implied extra-marital sex and the idea that science has proved that God doesn’t exist.

By far the most disturbing thing about this movie are the countless, subtle anti-Christian ideas. Christian’s are, once again portrayed, many times throughout the movie, as not having answers. A young Ellie was kicked out of Sunday School when the teacher couldn’t tell her where Cain got his wife. (See Genesis 4:16 and 5:4 for the answer) Once again we are told that science and religion don’t mix. While this is generally a true statement, it is not true of Christianity. Many of the Founding Fathers of science were Bible-believing creationists. Issac Newton, for example wrote more Biblical commentaries than scientific papers! We are told that God has left us no hint of his existence. Romans 1:19-20 says that there’s so much evidence for the existence of God in His Creation that non-believers are without excuse! There are many more example’s which could be cited and discussed. Many are subtle, others are obvious. Evolution is, of course, implied. The reasoning is that if the conditions are right elsewhere in the universe, life will evolve, just like it supposedly did on Earth.

Movies can be powerful teaching tools. The combination of stunning visuals and emotional music and sound alone can bring the script writer’s and director’s message across without ever appealing to the truth. “Contact” works, and is very convincing, on an emotional level. Many people, including Christians who are not prepared, will be influenced by the ideas presented in it.

Ellie is willing to die to find an answers to some of the big questions like, “Why are we here?,” “What’s the meaning of life?” She expects to find these from aliens. A sentence that is repeated three times during the movie is, “If it is just us, it seems like an awful waste of space.” How ironic that the truth is that we are not alone in the universe. While the Bible makes it clear that we are the only intelligent life form, we are not alone! There’s God! The Creator, and He’s chosen to reveal himself through the Creation and through the Bible. The Bible tells us the answers to those big questions and many others.

I would only recommend this movie to Christians with a solid grasp of Biblical truth and the ability to discern the truth from a lie no matter how subtle the lie might be. For those Christians who don’t fall into this category… learn to discern, study the Scriptures and go see this movie with a Christian friend who is able to pick out the lies.

Year of Release—1997

To learn more about extraterrestrial life from a biblical perspective, see:

What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets?

Viewer Comments
First, I must applaud the producers of Contact for their awesome special effects and their portrayal of the beauty and majesty of the universe. As a Christian though, I was sickened by their New Age portrayal of God.

Jesus said, at least a half dozen times, that we were to be careful lest we be DECEIVED (Luke 21; Matt. 24). The deception that Hollywood portrays is that God can be found through many different paths. Jesus said He was the only door, the only path, the only resurrection, and that there is no life but through Him.

We must remember that Satan is the prince of this world (Ephesians 2:2), and that His influence includes most of those in Hollywood. To say that this movie has Christian merit because it indicates that there is a God, presupposes that their concept of God is the same as the Bibles, and this is naive. The Bible says that in the last days, Satan will not do away with religion, rather he will set himself up as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4) to be worshipped.

And the devil is blinding many (2 Corinthians 4:3,4), making them think that they have saving faith, when in fact they are unknowingly worshipping the Antichrist.

In Contact, the man of faith indicates that faith is blind, when in reality true faith in God, through His Son Jesus, is faith based on fact. The Bible tells us to test all things and hold fast that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

The Christian faith, unlike all other religious systems, is based on fact. Peter said that we have many infallible proofs. For example, no other religious book in the world has verifiable, specific prophecies. The Bible has hundreds of prophecies and each one has proven to be accurate. Also, the Bible is the only religious book that is accurate concerning the creation and science.

Most importantly, Jesus showed that He alone is God through the ressurection. I encourage all who are truly seeking the Lord to search the Bible as well as the Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Hindu Vedas, ect., and you will find that the Bible is the truth.

There are also thousands of good Christian books that defend the faith that are helpful (see the apologetics section of any Christian book store). Finally, it is no coincidence that all the Christians in the film were portrayed as narrow-minded kooks and nuts. Satan does not attack those religions that propagate his lies, but he always attacks the truth: Jesus. I hope and pray that God will open many eyes and hearts with the truth. God bless.
—Jim Tetlow, Age 32
“Contact” is like a report card for Christians from non-believers. It tells us what they think of us. Christians are portrayed as either suicidal maniacs or new age religious gurus. The best thing Palmer Joss (guru) had to say in defense of belief in God was “Did you love your father? …Prove it.” That’s it? All of the evidence of Creation brushed aside?

We have our work cut out for us to educate them about the evidence for faith. The blasphemies and the nude scene (implied adultery) of Foster ruined the movie for me. Not recommended in unedited form and even then, don’t check your brain in at the door. Think through the subtlties of Sagan’s arguments that have influenced millions of souls to ignore the claims of Christ in the Bible.
—Brad Johnson, age 34
I was totally impressed with the movie “Contact.” I think a lot of Christians may be missing the blessing. Ellie needed proof of God. Through her experience, which she could not explain, she learned the meaning of faith in her life. She had a transformation experience which, she felt, must be experienced by others. Should we not relate to this as Christians? Also, I believe the “bashing” of Christians in this movie, was unfortunately, not far from the truth. Christians give non-believers reason to laugh. (This is not a criticism, but an observation). Let’s not give unbelievers any reason to “bash.”
…My boyfriend and I have debated this movie about its standing with Christianity, we believe that it leaves too many open-ended questions, which is good for one thing, confusing people who are not strong in the faith. The movie was definatly good, and did hold a large amount of opposing views. The only thing I can say is when I came out of the movie I was in awe of the awesome power of God who could create such an immense and beautiful universe, it is not explained in easy answers, but through our faith in things that are unseen (ie: God)…
—M. Keal
Although I heard that some thought the movie was disappointing due to the lack of “aliens,” I found that it was one of the most thought-provoking movies I have seen. My gut reaction was that the movie was anti-God because of the way that the main character behaved as if she had the whole God/Bible thing figured out. Like the pastor of my church has said, we’ll never have a relationship with God if we let certain questions about the Bible stand in our way…
—Mike Gallagher
Personally, I don’t feel that Contact held Christians or any theists in a negative light. The film simply showed us how religion and science can clash on some matters… The science involved in Contact could very well be affected by God’s existence. The universe is a very large place capable of supporting billions of large technoligcally advanced civilizations. If we were the only intelligent life in the universe, it would be a huge waste of space, God or no God.

If you look at it logically, there is most likely other forms of intelligent life out there. This film dealt with this issue as well as religion vs. science. And in my opinion, just because the Bible says we are the only intelligent life, doesn’t mean that that’s an absolute truth. You imply that this film contains lies and that only a Christian who is able to pick them out should go see this film… what lies are you referring to? If you consider anything that goes against your Bible a lie, then you can’t say for sure that they are lies, because how can you know *for sure* that your Bible speaks the truth?
—Jason, age 15
You missed the point. Jodie Foster’s character is implying that if we’re alone, it’s a waste of all those trillions of light years of the Universe. A simple mathematical view of the possibilities, proves that there probably is life somewhere in the universe. We as a civilization simply have not found it yet. I saw Contact the weekend it opened, I felt it was a highly entertaining film, and did raise a number of interesting issues.
I believe that Contact is the best and most thought provoking movie I have ever seen. Being a Christian, I noticed many things that are contradictory to my beliefs, but I also noticed things that enriched my faith. I didn’t need to watch Jodie Foster’s flight to outer space to realize the awesomeness of creation and how big our God really is, but it served as an excellent reminder. People have reached many different conclusions from the movie, but I haven’t seen a review that said what I am about to say.

I know this isn’t what the movie was implying, but if you actually think about it, maybe the whole story with spending one third of a trillion dollars and involving everyone was God’s way of opening Dr. Alloway’s eyes and getting her to believe that there really is a God.

I like to think about the enormous puzzle that each person fits into. He has a will for every person’s life and it is often said that God works in mysterious ways. Although not many people will share my opinion, I like to think that Dr. Alloway became a believer after seeing a glimpse of heaven. The author of the movie is a claimed atheist, and I bet he would not be too happy if he found out that his novel “Contact” actually enriched my faith.

It was just a reminder to me that God has a plan for every individual and obviously some are more extravagant than others! It simply reminded me that no matter how hard or confusing my life may seem to be, God is there. I don’t need any proof, but if I did, I’d just step outside and look at the stars.
—Natalie, age 18
I walked out of that movie so excited that I verbally said that “I BELIEVE IN GOD!!” Sure it had me thinking, and that’s a good thing. Its the first movie I have ever seen that questions someone in their personal faith with GOD. I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for her to say it, I BELIEVE IN GOD. I feel its just a movie and it touched my heart. Two people can read the same bible verse and feel different about it. This was only a movie. And a pretty good one.
—Joie Myrtue
“Contact” was a well-made movie, but I was appalled by its blatant and very anti-Christian tone. People around me (this is Iowa) were groaning during some of the depictions of Christians as evil and stupid. And then the new-age faith guru is elevated to one of the President’s top advisors! Give me a break! “Who made this movie, anyway?” someone asked.

The final credits came on and there was the answer: the late Carl Sagan and his wife. Of course. And that explains why another bad guy was the head of one of the government’s funding agency. As a faculty member seeking grant funding, Sagan probably had many disappointments when he was turned down by narrow-minded government bureaucrats. Contact seems to be somewhat auto-biographical.
—Keith Redenbaugh, age 46
On an entertainment level, “Contact” was superb. The effects were awesome and Jodie Foster and cast delivered strong performances. On a Christian level, the only thing that offended me was the depiction of the man of God, Palmer Joss and his fornication scene… and his glorying in it. Hollywood has exploited our Christian men in this area to death; not only in this film but in many others. Once again, we must look to Our Father to bless Christian writers to create roles on screen to reverse this trend. The debates-both on screen and off-didn’t bother me at all. I know that there is one God, the almighty Jehovah! I refuse to be persuaded by this or any sci-fi movie that there is another greater than He.
—Chris Utley, age 24
The avowed atheist and clinician, Dr. Arroway, finally admits that she can’t explain what she saw and experienced, she has no proof, but “it’s real.” Does this sound like faith to you? (Heb. 11:1) Evangelicals who object to this well-turned tale too easily forget a few simple basics in relating to “unbelievers.” These basics were modeled perfectly for us by the only extended “alien” visitation ever recorded. 1st, learn not only how the species talks (their language) but what’s important to them (how they think). 2nd, meet them where they are—use the stuff of their lives to relate to them.

Finally, that the Alloway was willing to die to satisfy her search for life’s meaning, fully expecting to find it from aliens, was the second step in the right direction. The first step was when she viewed nature and the universe in all its glory and irreducibleness—something 20th century science and intellectuals refused to do! She didn’t avoid the wonder of it, even though her intellect couldn’t fathom it. “They should have sent a poet” was one of the best lines from the movie. “Contact” certainly advocates that humankind, particularly materialistic “christian” America, begin looking for the answers outside of ourselves, and that’s always a good starting point!
—Debra L. Lewis, age 40
The movie “Contact”, from a cinematic standndpoint was a very good movie. And was fairly faithfull to the original book, with two exceptions (which I will get to below) . While some of the precepts and actions in the book do not agree with Christian teachings, I do not feel it has any Anti-Christian messages. It portayed various groups of people, as they actually are (A bit simplified of course).

One scene in particular that was removed from the movie (but was in the book) has rather profound christian implications. Ellie, and Joss were in a museum, standing by a large pendulum. Because of friction, and conservation of energy, the pendulum will never swing past the point where it is released. Palmer and Ellie have a bet, to who has a stronger faith in their beleifs.

Ellie puts her head by the pendulum, and lets it swing. On the return, she flinshes and moves back, even though she “knew” it would stop. Palmer then steps forward, and says he knows God will not let him be harmed (BTW: he is a much “better” christian in the book). He releases the pendulum, and then takes two steps forward. At this point a guard comes forward and makes them leave.

I originally thought, the test never occured, but a friend of mine pointed out, Perhaps God is the one who sent the guard :) The other ommision was the whole Pi thing, but that’s understandable. It wouldve taken another hour to explain the whole thing to the audience.
—Jason Coyne, age 21
Stereotypical in the portrayal of religion outside of the Hollywood ideal. Illicit sex of a religious figure is acceptable. Anticlimatic.Is that all there is to an encounter with so called higher intelligence? Carl should have been able to do so much better. The genuine encounter with The Higher Intelligence-Jesus Christ the Lord is so much better and will be even greater in the life to come.
—Danny R. Essary, age 35
How come my comments about “CONTACT” are repeatedly censored? I said it was nice to see a movie that doesn’t portray atheists as murderous savages. Is that an anti-Christian thing to say here? It is the truth that some atheists are nice people and many have earnest questions about Christianity. It’s better to get people *interested* in religion than force it down their throats. Censoring other’s points of views isn’t very nice, I think many other people on here can attest to that. “CONTACT” may not give Christians everything they want to hear… but it’s important to listen to “the enemy,” if not to understand their viewpoint.
—David Kerr, age 19
I’ve read all the comments thus far and agree with all those that feel that this is a faith AFFIRMING movie, not an anti-Christian one. As a Sunday School teacher (high school and young adults) I would highly recommend this movie as a starting point for discussions on faith. I believe that 1 brief line in the movie points very clearly to the fact that we just have to believe—Palmer asks Ellie if she loved her father to which she answered yes, then he says “Prove it.” I personally love my father, and I have no need to prove it, I just believe.

Finally, the one point about this movie that I find absolutely amazing is that Carl Sagan, an avowed atheist, wrote it. I personally think that the fact that an atheist presented such a balanced view of science versus religion merely proves to me that God really does work in mysterious ways. Jeremiah 29:11. One of the best movies I’ve seen.
—Carl Fuglein, age 50
I was very thoughtful reading through the comments both good and bad. Having seen the movie my opinion is that yes, Christians in some respects were portrayed badly (as well as having numerous anti-Biblical themes, ideas, etc). However, is it not just as important for movies to cause thoughtful contemplation. I feel that the handling of questions of belief will cause people to at least ask the question of “Is there a God?.” Which may eventually take them on a search that leads to Him.
—Christopher Hotz, age 23
Several people have accused “Contact” of being anti-Christian because a Christian was protrayed as a saboteur. This is not anti-Christian, this is reality! Whether it is a Christian murdering an abortion doctor, a Jew assassinating a head of state, or a Muslim carrying out a suicide bombing, people use their faith to justify evil acts, and have done so throughout history. Protraying this in a movie doesn’t qualify it as anti-Christian.
—Errol, age 44
Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one goes to the Father but through Me.” We need to remember that whenever someone mentions “another” way to get the truth, or to get to Heaven.
—Dan Young, age 24
Is this an anti-Christian film, or a film that promotes the concept of faith by exposing the narrowness of a purely naturalistic worldview? I found it to be decidedly anti-Christian. Consider first the fact that the two “bad guys” in the movie (the self-aggrandizing scientist and the saboteur) both espoused a strong belief in God. Then there were frequent shots of vicious protest groups that had religious messages. There was a thinly-disguised unsympathetic portrayal of Ralph Reed (called Robert Rank in the movie) as a political sleaze, and finally there was the wimpy and ineffective Episcopal priest at the beginning of the movie. The only sympathetic religious character was Palmer Joss, and his arrogance, language, and casual immorality rendered him unbelievable as a “spiritual leader.”

It is true that the film highlighted the fact that not all truth can be empirically verified, and that fact opens the door to the possibility of the validity of faith in God. However, we need to remember that Carl Sagan (the author of Contact) was a very vocal atheist. He had a strong faith that there was other intelligent life in the universe, and an equally strong faith that there was no God.

So what is Sagan’s agenda? It is to encourage the scientific community to be open to the possibility of alien life (which must be believed on faith, since we have no empirical evidence of it), and at the same time to challenge the “primitive thinking” (according to him) that would lead one to a faith in God. Notice that Ellie stated that she could not believe in God because as a scientist she believed only what was empirically verifiable, but she had had no trouble believing in advanced alien intelligent life (which had not been verifiable until the signals were received.)

(There is a) consistent negative portrayal of people of faith in this movie. Carl Sagan was never sympathetic toward any belief in a God who is involved with our lives. I think we fool ourselves if we believe we have found a (spiritual) faith-affirming message in this movie.
—Dr. Cheryl Sneeringer, age 52
This is the best movie so far this year in my opinion. It shows that there is a compromise between faith and science. …Hopefully, people will be able to open their minds for 2 hours and think about God, religion, and science from different points of view.
—Bryan, age 19
Remember it is just a movie, and a good one. I enjoyed it for entertainment purpose's. Yes, I agree there are things that are not scriptural, but a movie is not what I use to gauge my life. I would recommend this movie as good entertainment, and recommend the Bible and the Gospel for those who need Jesus.
—GEG, age 39
The movie Contact is a great conversation piece for discussing what it means for a movie to be pro/anti Christian.

1) I have heard some people say that it is anti-Christian because it depicts the main Christian character as engaging in premarital intimacy. So then, is the story of David anti-Christian because of Bathsheba? Personally, I view a movie as anti-Christian if it consistently portrays believers as morally worse than non-believers (a test which many movies from the last couple of decades fail). It is my observation that this is not true of Contact—while Palmer Joss is flawed, he is no more so than anyone else, and is much better in many regards (compassion for instance) than most of the non-believers shown.

2) I have heard some people say that Contact is anti-Christian because the main character strongly professes her disbelief early in the movie. This however ignores the bulk of the film in which the foundations of her disbelief—skepticism and the scientific method—are severely shaken, and in which she sees how reasonable people can in fact believe things which cannot be proven and may in fact be true. While I have no illusions that Ellie becomes a believer by the end of the movie, she is at least less certain in her disbelief.
—S. James, age 37
I disagree strongly with this review’s position that Contact has an anti-Christian message. My impression was that the theme of Contact is that everything is a matter of faith, and that while religious people (including Christians) are willing to freely admit that, many scientists have a hard time admiting how much of their belief system is also a matter of faith in abstract principles (simplicity, repeatability, etc.). The movie then is the story of one scientist’s realization of her own reliance on a kind of faith, and how her negative feelings towards religion may not be as well founded as she thought. …One last note—in the book version of Contact, the aliens give Ellie a hint that some intelligent being created the universe, and the book ends with Ellie finding a scientific proof of the existance of God.
—Steven Szymanski, age 37
CONTACT is another postmodern/New Age assault on both modernism and Christianity. Christian’s are portrayed as dangerous wackos; science, while sincere, is rightfully too narrow; and mystical “experience” is the final reality whether approached religiously or scientifically. To better understand what’s happening in this movie, visit the Crossroads Project and see their book… THE DEATH OF TRUTH.
—Dan, age 48
…I have read the Bible cover to cover many times in my life. I have also read ALL of Carl Sagans books. So I like to think of myself as well-rounded. This movie was a TRIUMPH, of cinematic artistry! The opening sequence of the movie, showing the granduer and immensity of the Universe of which we are all citizens, was MORE than worth the price of admission. I will agree that a faith and spirituality in this life are very necessary if we are to remain moral creatures. But, I DISAGREE emphatically that Christianity is the only way! I have a very deep faith in the power of the creator, and I find it EXCEEDINGLY unlikely, that such a creator, would create a Universe on such a grand scale for only us. This is highest form narcisism alive today. There are many more religions, on this planet, FAR older than Christianity, that believe that we are not the only beings who think and wonder about their origins…
—Robert Mark, age 29
…This film is great for Christians as it offers several points of dialogue. For instance the non belliever is moral while the believer lies, cheats, and steals his way to the top. We know this happens in the church, [so] why not discuss it. There are also characters that clearly represent cult leaders, leaders of political movements with in the church, and one who seems to practice spirituality outside of established lines. This is great dialogue fuel. One last comment regarding Hollywood protryaing Christians as pyschos. Perhaps the screen writers have found the way to this page and read some of the totaly irrational comments.
—Dan, age 32
Contact never says that God is dis-proved by science, it actually makes the point that there is neither empiracle evidence for God or science. Is also clearly points out in its theme that religion and science do mix because ultimately there is more to both than we can imagine. The Bible was written by those with the same questions as Ellie. When ancient peoples pondered the stars and life—“What is the meaning of it all?”—they found themselves searching for a relationship with the God who made it all. Contact identifies the world as 95% believing in God, and 5% not…
—Susan, age 37
As a non-RC evangelical fundy, I’m with Brian. Sadly, the reviewer appears to have literally or intellectually missed the last 30 min. of the movie in which the main character sees her entire world-view (which she adhered to as a way of honoring her dead father) painfully swept away and is left to rely only upon faith. A beautiful, enriching and faith-affirming movie.
—Douglas Sirman, age 32
From an entertainment viewpoint I found the movie interesting based on the special effects… However, from a Christian perspective there were many shortcomings. …Innuendoes to sexual situations are portrayed between two of the main characters, with the male being cast as a Christian (or at least a believer in a God). While there were no references to the Biblical scriptures there was an indication of a conversion experience in his past based on some type of emotional event that overwhelmed him. This type of faith has no difference between a non Christian and a believer (see James ch 2), and is not true faith, If you see this movie with friends be careful of how they will view a Christian when you walk out of the theater.
—Floyd Kramer Jr., age 40