Contact

Factual error: The last time Eleanor Arroway talks to S.R. Haddon, he's aboard the Russian space station Mir, and Haddon explains that he's up there because the "low oxygen" and zero gravity counteracts his cancer. In fact, there is no "low oxygen" environment aboard space stations or other spacecraft. Low oxygen content would, of course, kill any astronauts or cosmonauts in short order. The breathable air in spacecraft always has at least the same oxygen content as Earth atmosphere at sea-level. In fact, most Russian missions used excessive amounts of oxygen. S.R. Haddon's original dialogue was probably "high oxygen and low gravity," but the line was bungled and allowed to remain in the film.

Charles Austin Miller

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: Also, being terminally ill, he is grasping at straws, and can't be expected to think solidly. After all, gravity wouldn't mean all that much to cancer cells in the human body, and special oxygen conditions of any kind can be generated on Earth (there is a weak possibility that low but sufficient for a human oxygen levels would slow cancer cells, which are often less efficient, more vulnerable in certain areas than healthy cells), so no need to go up, and finally, he may simply be Dennis Tito-ing and making an excuse to do so.

dizzyd

Continuity mistake: Ellie tells Palmer her father died when she was nine years old. Later, when Mr. Hadden goes over her life history to impress her, the dates of her birth and her father's death indicate she was ten years old when he died.

Continuity mistake: While receiving the prime number pulses, there is a discontinuity between the pulse sequence being received and what is displayed on the monitors. As the sequence for "seven" starts (right after Ellie tells Fish to start counting the pulses), the camera switches to a computer monitor display which indicates the sequence for "seven" has already completed, and is logging the pulses of the sequence for "eleven".

solarpilot

Factual error: The scene where Ellie and Palmer are looking at the stars next to the Arecibo observatory dish, they are looking at the constellation Cassiopeia. This constellation is visible to the North. However, judging from the parts of the antenna structure visible in the background, they are actually looking South. The suspended walkway/cable raceway connecting the control room and the antenna structure visible in this shot is on the North side of the dish. In real life, the control room and observation areas are on the North side of the dish. It is also not clear what time of the year this was but Cassiopeia is not visible from Puerto Rico during part of the year due to its low elevation above the horizon.

Numlock

Factual error: Hokkaido island geography shows a relatively smooth coastline. The location of the second machine cannot be natural, but must have been added post production.

Continuity mistake: When talking with Ellie on his plane Haddon's hand alternates to being on Ellie's shoulder in shots facing him to not touching her in shots behind him.

Character mistake: When they first receive the alien signal, they decode it and play it as a TV signal which shows Hitler speaking at the opening of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Kent translates what Hitler is saying as "I declare the Games in Berlin, at the celebration of the first Olympics of the New Era, as opened." Hitler actually says "the *eleventh* Olympics of the New Era." The "New Era" doesn't refer to some Nazi concept, it's used to separate the modern Olympics from the ancient ones in Greece.

ironcito

Panel member: If you were to meet these Vegans, and were permitted only one question to ask of them, what would it be?
Ellie Arroway: Well, I suppose it would be, how did you do it? How did you evolve, how did you survive this technological adolescence without destroying yourself?

More quotes from Contact

Trivia: Filmmakers George Miller and Francis Ford Coppola both sued Warner Bros. over Contact. George Miller sued for breach of contract (as he was the original director before being fired and replaced by Robert Zemeckis), while Coppola sued because he claimed that he and Carl Sagan (the writer of Contact) had already developed the premise for a TV show in the 1970's which was never produced, before Sagan later used the idea for Contact in 1985. Both suits failed - Miller's firing was within contract and perfectly reasonable, and Coppola was dismissed (twice) because he had taken far too long to sue the company (if he sued when Sagan began working in the 80's, he may have won, but he waited until after the film's release in 1997 to sue).

More trivia for Contact

Question: If you read the book version of Contact you know that the stuff about transcendental numbers and the Artist's Signature was left out of the movie. This makes no sense to me, since it's not only the real ending, it's the whole POINT of the story. Without this information, the story's fundamental question (does God exist?) is not answered in the movie. Does anyone know why this was left out?

Answer: If anything, I think the film's producers deliberately left godly topics unaddressed (and questions dangling, unanswered) because they didn't want to alienate any particular audience. However, we know the producers of "Contact" certainly did vilify religion through the sinister scenes with Joseph, the evangelical extremist. At the same time, the film created empathy for the president's glib theological adviser, Palmer Joss. So, I don't think the film was shying away from religious topics, and I think it was pretty fair to the religious viewpoint, for the most part. But this movie wasn't about religion; it was about a primitive, materialistic, self-centered and aggressive species (humanity) reluctantly acknowledging the existence of vastly more intelligent and even godlike entities throughout the cosmos. Even the first-contact entities, advanced as they are, acknowledge other entities much more ancient and much more advanced (the virtual architects of the space/time conduit). The implication was that we live in a universe that may be populated with many intelligent entities that answer every human criteria of godhood. Ellie's narrow-minded atheism was surely shaken to its foundation by her experience; and, while she didn't "convert" to archaic earthly religions, she was spiritually a different person upon her return. The film, however, is open-ended and fence-straddling and doesn't presume to definitively answer the question of the existence of god, leaving it up to the audience to decide.

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: The film chooses to focus on Ellie's personal journey and how she deals with and comes to terms with what happens - it doesn't really involve God at all, other than the inclusion of Palmer Joss as a religious advocate, choosing to restrict itself to the much less theologically controversial theme of a straight first contact scenario, without the religious overtones. Given the depth of feeling on religious matters in the US, it's hardly surprising that the filmmakers preferred to leave this particular hot topic out. While Carl Sagan died during production of the film, he both co-produced and was involved in the story process, so he was clearly not concerned about this change.

Tailkinker Premium member

More questions & answers from Contact

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.