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"Contact" Movie Excerpt

Date: 1-Sep-2009/17:02+3:00

Tags: , ,

Characters: ellie arroway, ted arroway, david drumlin, peter valerian, palmer joss

The movie Contact was famously mocked by Mr. Garrison on South Park as "terrible" and that he "waited through that entire movie to see the alien and it was her god-damn father." I saw the movie when it came out in the theater, and it didn't make much of an impact on me at the time... in part because it was in 1997 and was before my own various "contacts" with beings in lucid dreams started kicking in.
But for comparison with my own accounts, I thought I would excerpt the part of the movie script where Ellie has been transported through space wormholes to talk to the aliens. (Full script here) It's funny to read the dialogue now, because it so directly compares to my interactions with "helpful" dream beings who seem to have some mastery of technology. She begs for others to be able to see what she's seen, and that our society be helped... and gets evaded.
Ellie sits up on a pristine white beach. Huge ranges of cumulus lit red/gold by the dawn silhouette clusters of palm trees; the sound of gently ROLLING SURF, SQUAWKING GULLS.
Ellie stands. The Dodec is nowhere to be seen. She looks around in disbelief.
She takes a few halting steps, like a child learning to walk. She kneels, scoops up some sand. Frowns in confusion...
ellie digs her hand into the sea, almost loses her balance again. She tastes the water. Normal. Her confusion grows...
ellie arroway: "I... remember this..."
She steps further into the water; letting its warmth soothe her, wipes the furrows from her brow. Closes her eyes as she lets the water take her.
Time passes. The sun is higher now. The SURF CRASHES.
ellie arroway: (into voice recorder) "Recording... check, check. Recording, is this on? I think this is on."
ellie sits against a palm tree, looking out at the sea. She seems a little more cogent.
ellie arroway: "Okay. I've traveled thirty thousand light years, give or take a few parsecs, to go to the beach. So... Either they've created this environment... or the illusion of this environment, to make me feel at home... or else somehow I am at home -- or else this is my cage at the intergalactic zoo and the tour bus will be along any minute..."
A distant figure becomes visible down the beach. As it approaches ellie continues, unaware:
ellie arroway: "Or else, of course, I'm completely insane. This should not be discounted as a possibility -- although the fact that I'm questioning my sanity should be a pretty good indication that I am in fact sane... unless of course... unless..."
ellie stops, as if sensing something. The figure grows closer, now clearly humanoid. Ellie turns to look -- and stares in utter disbelief. She rises to her feet... Ted Arroway is walking easily toward her. He smiles.
ted arroway: "Morning, Captain."
Tears come to her eyes... she approaches, staring... He takes her hand --
ted arroway: "I've missed you."
It's too much. Ellie throws herself into his arms, holds him tight.
ellie arroway: "Dad..."
She sobs. He holds her.
ted arroway: "It's okay..."
ellie recovers a bit, wiping away her tears --
ellie arroway: "I used... I used to dream you were alive... and then I'd wake up and lose you all over again."
ted arroway: "I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you, sweetheart."
ellie arroway: "Dad... But tell me, how did... I mean how can...?"
Reality returns like a cloud passing over the sun.
ellie arroway: (softly) "You're not real. None of this is."
ted arroway: (smiles sadly) "That's my scientist."
ellie arroway: (struggling to breathe) "So. Are you an hallucination? Or are little gear trains and circuit boards under your skin?"
ted arroway: "Am I artifact or dream? You might ask that about anything."
ellie arroway: (realizing) "But you're so... I mean how could you possibly...? When I was unconscious. You... downloaded... my thoughts, my memories, even... This beach. I've never been here but I remember... it's how I always imagined...Pensacola."
ted arroway: "We thought this might make things a little easier."
And in the blink of an eye they are no longer standing on a beach but on the rim of the Grand Canyon, looking out at a spectacular sunset.
ted arroway: "... although this is nice too."
ellie tries hard to swallow her amazement as Ted begins to stroll along the rim; she walks with him.
ellie arroway: "So who -- what -- are you?"
ted arroway: "Originally just another species like yourselves. Well, not like you at all actually, but..."
ellie arroway: "Can you show me?"
ted arroway: "Small moves, Captain, small moves."
ellie arroway: "Why did you contact us?"
ted arroway: "You contacted us. We were simply listening. We've been listening for millions of years."
ellie arroway: "And those other docking ports I saw... I mean... there are others?"
ted arroway: "Many others."
ellie arroway: "And they all travel here through this wormhole subway system you built."
ted arroway: "Oh, we didn't build it. The transit system has been in place for billions of years; we're just its... caretakers."
ellie arroway: "So who...?"
ted arroway: "We don't know. Whoever they were, they were gone long before we ever got here."
ellie arroway: (catching her breath) "The scale... it's just... So all the civilizations you detect; they all end up coming here?"
ted arroway: (sadly) "Not all. Some choose to stay at home and dream their dreams. Some never make it this far."
ellie arroway: "So we passed some kind of test?"
ted arroway: (pausing) "You have your mother's hands... There are no tests, ellie. We don't sit in judgment. Think of us more as... librarians. Curators of the Universe's rarest and most valuable creation..."
And now they are walking through a familiar forest. Sunlight streams through the tall trees.
ted arroway: "As many civilizations as we've found, compared to the vastness of space..."
He seems momentarily overcome with a terrible sadness... and then he recovers, smiles.
ted arroway: "... life is unspeakably rare. So whenever we do find another civilization, especially one that's... struggling... We send a message. Sometimes we can offer help. Sometimes we can't. But we always try. Life is simply too precious not to."
ellie arroway: "Can you help us?"
Ted hesitates. They are now standing in the middle of a vast alien desert, stretching to the horizon. The dome of the sky darkens revealing a view from outside the galaxy; the Milky Way hangs like a pinwheel in the blackness of intergalactic night.
ted arroway: "You're an interesting species; an interesting mix. Capable of such exquisite dreams; such horrifying nightmares. Technologically you've advanced very quickly -- some think too quickly... and yet..."
He turns to ellie, puts a loving hand to her face.
ted arroway: (softly) "You're so lost. So cut off... and so sad."
And suddenly ellie is standing on the sun-dappled Cal Tech campus. She turns to find herself standing opposite David Drumlin.
david drumlin: "What is it that makes you so lonely, Miss Arroway?"
Ellie stares at him -- instinctively backs away, turning around -- to find herself high atop the radio dish at Arecibo
looking into Peter Valerian's face --
peter valerian: "Be honest, El. The truth is you really don't want the company."
Peter shakes his head -- then begins to melt, morph into Palmer Joss --
palmer joss: "What does it feel like to understand everything in the universe except yourself?"
-- the Texas meadow instantly dissolves behind him to become the darkness of the Hokkaido night --
palmer joss: "Ellie, there is no reason you have to be alone."
Ellie stares at him; he slowly morphs back into Ted as he and the space around them become infused with an unearthly golden light; his voice ECHOING and resonating into infinity --
ted arroway: "We are alone. For millions of years we've searched the cosmos... and after all the suffering, after all the chaos and desolation of the void -- the one thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other. That's why I sent the message. That's why I made contact."
Ellie moves closer, staring into his eyes... and catches a glimpse of infinity. She holds her breath --
ellie arroway: (whispers) "Who are you?"
ted arroway: (reading her mind) "Am I one... or many?"
ellie arroway: "The librarian... or the library...?"
We are lost inside an unimaginable realm, an infinity of nested realities turning inside and within each other in a staggering visual paradox that dazzles and overwhelms, that builds and soars until -- the soft CRASHING of the SURF...
Ellie is back, standing with her father on a perfect beach in the glow of twilight. A gentle breeze blows. She is overcome.
ellie arroway: "... all those voices... you gather them all together. Millions of intelligences in one consciousness... and now we're a part of it."
ted arroway: "You always have been. We're all descendants of the same stars, ellie. All made of the same primordial atoms."
ellie arroway: (overwhelmed) "So. What happens now?"
ted arroway: "Now... you go home."
ellie arroway: (instinctively; like a child) "No! I mean... why so soon?"
ted arroway: "If we don't engineer a consistent causality it'll work itself out on its own, and that's almost always worse."
He sees she is confused.
ted arroway: "Ellie, according to your physics none of this is possible. A lot of it you're simply not capable of understanding, not yet. No offense."
ellie arroway: "None taken... but ... do we get to come back? Others of my kind, I mean."
He tenderly brushes a stray lock of hair behind her ear.
ted arroway: "Eventually you'll get here on your own. This was just the first step; in time you'll take another."
ellie arroway: "But -- other people from our planet should see what I've seen -- they should witness this for themselves."
ted arroway: "That isn't the way it works."
ellie arroway: "But you said you wanted to help -- don't you see what it would mean?"
ted arroway: (gently) "No more stalling, Captain."
ellie arroway: (intensely) "Please -- if you... downloaded... everything about us you know the problems we face, the impact it could have -- it could make the difference --"
ted arroway: "Ellie... this is the way it's been done for billions of years..."
She looks at him pleadingly... and as the part of him that is her father look into his daughter's eyes, he hesitates --
ted arroway: "... but we'll consider your request."
A breeze blows, stronger now.
ted arroway: "It's time to go home now."
ellie arroway: "No. Please."
ted arroway: (smiles sadly) "Childhood is over, ellie. It's time to grow up."
A WHOOSH of AIR -- ellie spins around --
The Dodec sits incongruously on the beach.
She turns back. Ted has vanished.
ellie arroway: "No..."
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The accounts written here are as true as I can manage. While the words are my own, they are not independent creative works of fiction —in any intentional way. Thus I do not consider the material to be protected by anything, other than that you'd have to be crazy to want to try and use it for genuine purposes (much less disingenuous ones!) But who's to say?