Movies that make a tremendous impact on me are rare. The most recent one is "Contact," a film that gave me profound insight into humanity, science, religion, and the relationship that exists among them. Not only does "Contact" illuminate the odd little perks and wonders of human behavior, it sheds light on the ever elusive Truth as well.
The most direct way "Contact" has inspired me is by its portrayal of the character Ellie Arroway, played by actress Jodie Foster. Ellie is a headstrong woman who clings to her belief despite ridicule and skepticism. For the most part of her adult life, she has been searching for some signal of existence beyond our world, and therefore she is persistent; she is willing to leave behind everything she loves just to search for the Truth, and therefore she is courageous. Although Ellie is just a fictional character, she has become a role model to whom I look for inspiration.
On a deeper level, "Contact" has given me perspective on our world and on the universe. It presented to me, through Ellie's journey to outer space (or inner soul, depending on how one interprets it), an infinitely humbling experience. Ellie has seen physical and emotional beauty that "no words can describe"(Ellie), and it is because of these revelations that I realized just how insignificant we human beings are in this vast universe. However, although we are insignificant in the greater scheme of things, but important to each other. Each of us is "capable of such beautiful dreams and such horrible nightmares"(Ted Arroway), and each of us has the potential to be uniquely wonderful. We ought not feel alone: just as Palmer Joss the religious and Ellie the scientific are able to come together despite their differences, so may we.
Moreover, the film seemed to embody my continuous search for myself and my reason for existence. The reason why everyone exists. The Truth, as I call it. Ellie sums up my ambitions in one paragraph: "For as long as I can remember, I've been searching for some reason why we're here, what are we doing, who we are. If this is a chance to find out even just a little part of that answer, I think it's worth a human life." To some, for example Palmer, the truth exists in God; to some, for example Ellie, the truth exists in science. There must be a merging point somewhere; there must be a consensus between human beings that what we are searching for is one and the same. I might not know what exactly this Truth is yet, but "Contact" has given me some clues and the motivation to keep on searching. Just as Theodore had told Ellie, "It's the small moves that count."
"Contact" was not the answer to all my questions, but it has affected me on a deeply personal level in a way no other film has. Its messages about humanity, life, and existence resonate within me even to this day, and hopefully one day I will be able to convey what I have found and what I feel. Jodie Foster once said: "There are film makers whose voices you look to while discovering your own personal obsessions." Ellie (and the film) has helped me discover mine.