Factual error: The geography around the VLA in New Mexico is actually relatively flat - in fact one of the reasons why the array complex is there is because the land is flat. The canyon in the film was actually Canyon de Chelly, in Arizona, more than 170 miles (270 km) away. But in the film, when Ellie goes to the canyon, the radio antennas seem to be right there, insinuating that the canyon is part of the VLA's magical desert scenery.
Factual error: When Mr. Hadden reviews Ellie's life history on his airplane, he says she graduated from MIT 'magna cum laude'. This is impossible, as MIT does not award academic honors to graduates.
Factual error: In the zoom-out at the very beginning, we hear broadcasts going back in time as we zoom out through the solar system. However, we hear broadcasts going back through time roughly 40 years. Shouldn't we be 40 lightyears out from Earth to hear them, rather than just in the Oort Cloud beyond Pluto? Radio waves travel at the speed of light like any electromagnetic wave. EM waves should not be confused with sound waves, which move much slower than the speed of light.
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).
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?
Ellie Arroway: I work for a project called seti.
Palmer Joss: Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence? Wow, that's out there.
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?
Question: In the few seconds (Earth time) it took for the pod to fall through the time travel device, it would have been impossible for Ellie to have become detached from the safety seat. It would have been even less possible for the seat to have become dislodged from the pod, AND for the seat to smash against the side of the pod with sufficient force crush it. I understand there was a cover-up (e.g., the 18 hours of static on her recording device), but Ellie, herself, would have remembered the dislodged, smashed seat. Why did she never bring it up in defense of her version of the facts? Was there a reason someone knows of, or is this just a plot hole?
Question: How did they film the scenes where real historical figures (President Clinton, for instance) made speeches and comments they didn't make in real life?
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