Contact: A Personal Voyage

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Contact: A Personal Voyage
Faneditor Name:
Original Movie/Show Title:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1997
Original Running Time:
149 minutes
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
134 minutes
Time Cut:
15 minutes
Available in HD:
Synopsis:
We explore one possible road to mankind's first encounter with extraterrestial life. Curiosity and the scientific method clash with fear, religion, and greed. Along the way everyone's beliefs are tested. The film is a tribute to Carl Sagan who spent his life popularizing scientific inquiry, who tirelessly championed the search for extraterrestial life, and who stimulated the awe and sense of wonder in all of us. The edit is about Dr. Arroway's personal journey more than mankind's journey. Her perseverance against the odds and despite resistance. Palmer Joss, the alien, and Mr. Kitz are less frustrating, and the last quarter of the film is greatly improved. As epilogue Dr. Sagan himself talks about Contact, science, and religion (audio excerpt from 1985 Studs Terkel interview).
Intention:
I really wanted to love Contact when it came out. It had so many ingredients going for it. Carl Sagan was an inspirational educator. Who doesn't remember Cosmos? (If you don't: Go. Watch it now!). Robert Zemeckis has made great films. Jodie Foster too. I'm a fan of science fiction that keeps the science credible. I remember being disappointed that Sagan's novel was made into a good-but-not-great movie in 1997. What held it back was the preachy Hollywood-drama, and the way the film dragged in the final act. That is now redeemed! This edit reinvigorates our want for the scientific method and the search for extraterrestial life!

With current attacks on science in politics and media, it's timely to revisit Contact. And much of Sagan's work for that matter. His baloney detection kit remains relevant as ever.
Additional Notes:
1080p MKV 5.1 Surround English subtitles
Other Sources:
Additional video: Carl Sagan shows us "How Would We Communicate with Alien Life" in a separate 8-minute video (excerpt from Royal Institution lecture "The planets" 1977).
Additional audio: Carl Sagan interviewed by Studs Terkel in 1985 (https://studsterkel.wfmt.com/programs/carl-sagan-discusses-book-contact).
Release Information:
Digital
Special Features:
- Audio commentary tracks by Jodie Foster and Robert Zemeckis + Steve Starkey (long silences are truncated to fit the new runtime, dialog is complete).
- Supplementary video: Carl Sagan shows us "How Would We Communicate with Alien Life" in a separate 8-minute video (excerpt from Royal Institution lecture "The planets" 1977).
Cuts and Additions:
Palmer, the priest, is trimmed the most. Now he's straightforward supportive of Ellie. He's visibly conflicted about his feelings for her, but he doesn't take that out on her anymore. Gone are the awful "Did you love your dad? Prove it." and the sabotaging "Do you believe in God?" at the panel hearing. He doesn't vote against her (or at least doesn't say so). He comes to Japan to be supportive and not just to ease his conscience. Removed many cutaway shots to his pensive blank face. These trims also remove the re-gift and re-re-gift of the compass.

Ellie's mom is no longer mentioned. Too many Hollywood movies have the mom die at the start of the story, just to make the protagonist's life harder. It's become a lazy plot device. All references to mom are cut (Ellie to dad, Ellie to Palmer, Hadden to Ellie). This also removes the jarring omission of who raised Ellie after her dad died. Did she live in that big house alone from nine until college?! How could we possibly be expected to believe that Ellie is ignored after her dad's funeral if mom isn't there to be the focus of everyone's attention instead? (Likely answer: in Sagan's book the mom doesn't die, so they added the death but didn't think it through).

The alien is trimmed. He (it?) doesn't pretend to be dad. The exchange is more matter of fact.

Kitz, the government-knows-best man, is trimmed during the Senate hearing. His attack is toned down, making him less of a Hollywood caricature.

Hadden, the industrialist, is trimmed. Sadly, because I like Hurt's performance! His exposition of Ellie's childhood is trimmed. The extra information doesn't further the film, and it removes the question of how (and why?) Hadden got that family video. His death scene is cut. We already knew Hadden was terminally ill, seeing his death didn't further the plot. Kitz no longer mentions Hadden at the Senate, so the cutaway didn't make sense anymore.

The suicide pill is cut. The idea has been debunked by enough qualified people, including astronaut Lovell and several NASA directors, to not believe that astronauts were given these. It wasn't relevant to the further story (Ellie doesn't use or contemplate using it), and frankly I found the actor who presents the pill frustrating. His performance reminded me of Carl Sagan's style and delivery, not as an homage but as an unsuccessful "I want to be like".

Multiple trims for pacing. The test in Florida. The preparation for Ellie's launch. Fewer shots of her walking the gantry and strapping in. Less hesitation from the controller. Ellie's wormhole journey, and on the beach.

The film now ends on the cliffhanger of Kitz and Constantine talking about the 18 hours of static. Partial cliffhanger: we still get the reveal of the static but we no longer see Ellie go back to the same life as if nothing happened, nothing changed. That was a huge downer. To add insult to injury, when a schoolkid asked this now world-famous maybe-space traveller whether life exists out there, she DUCKED the question. Argh! Instead, the scene with the school kids is moved to before she discovers the signal (with corrected time card).

Several moments are trimmed where the filmmakers hit us over the head with obvious or annoying lines. Gone are "Does anybody speak German?", "Where can I buy a great dress?", one close-up of the religious terrorist.

One special effect is cut: Ellie's face coming out of her face during the wormhole journey. Yeah, that sounds weird but it's what they did. Anyway, the effect wasn't great and isn't needed for the story.

Epilogue: Carl Sagan talks about Contact, extraterrestrials, science and religion. Audio only over the end credits (excerpt from Studs Terkel interview 1985).
Trailer (Password: fanedit.org)

contactapv_coverart
Faneditor Name:
Original Movie/Show Title:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1997
Original Running Time:
149 minutes
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
134 minutes
Time Cut:
15 minutes
Available in HD:
Synopsis:
We explore one possible road to mankind's first encounter with extraterrestial life. Curiosity and the scientific method clash with fear, religion, and greed. Along the way everyone's beliefs are tested. The film is a tribute to Carl Sagan who spent his life popularizing scientific inquiry, who tirelessly championed the search for extraterrestial life, and who stimulated the awe and sense of wonder in all of us. The edit is about Dr. Arroway's personal journey more than mankind's journey. Her perseverance against the odds and despite resistance. Palmer Joss, the alien, and Mr. Kitz are less frustrating, and the last quarter of the film is greatly improved. As epilogue Dr. Sagan himself talks about Contact, science, and religion (audio excerpt from 1985 Studs Terkel interview).
Intention:
I really wanted to love Contact when it came out. It had so many ingredients going for it. Carl Sagan was an inspirational educator. Who doesn't remember Cosmos? (If you don't: Go. Watch it now!). Robert Zemeckis has made great films. Jodie Foster too. I'm a fan of science fiction that keeps the science credible. I remember being disappointed that Sagan's novel was made into a good-but-not-great movie in 1997. What held it back was the preachy Hollywood-drama, and the way the film dragged in the final act. That is now redeemed! This edit reinvigorates our want for the scientific method and the search for extraterrestial life!

With current attacks on science in politics and media, it's timely to revisit Contact. And much of Sagan's work for that matter. His baloney detection kit remains relevant as ever.
Additional Notes:
1080p MKV 5.1 Surround English subtitles
Other Sources:
Additional video: Carl Sagan shows us "How Would We Communicate with Alien Life" in a separate 8-minute video (excerpt from Royal Institution lecture "The planets" 1977).
Additional audio: Carl Sagan interviewed by Studs Terkel in 1985 (https://studsterkel.wfmt.com/programs/carl-sagan-discusses-book-contact).
Release Information:
Digital
Special Features:
- Audio commentary tracks by Jodie Foster and Robert Zemeckis + Steve Starkey (long silences are truncated to fit the new runtime, dialog is complete).
- Supplementary video: Carl Sagan shows us "How Would We Communicate with Alien Life" in a separate 8-minute video (excerpt from Royal Institution lecture "The planets" 1977).
Cuts and Additions:
Palmer, the priest, is trimmed the most. Now he's straightforward supportive of Ellie. He's visibly conflicted about his feelings for her, but he doesn't take that out on her anymore. Gone are the awful "Did you love your dad? Prove it." and the sabotaging "Do you believe in God?" at the panel hearing. He doesn't vote against her (or at least doesn't say so). He comes to Japan to be supportive and not just to ease his conscience. Removed many cutaway shots to his pensive blank face. These trims also remove the re-gift and re-re-gift of the compass.

Ellie's mom is no longer mentioned. Too many Hollywood movies have the mom die at the start of the story, just to make the protagonist's life harder. It's become a lazy plot device. All references to mom are cut (Ellie to dad, Ellie to Palmer, Hadden to Ellie). This also removes the jarring omission of who raised Ellie after her dad died. Did she live in that big house alone from nine until college?! How could we possibly be expected to believe that Ellie is ignored after her dad's funeral if mom isn't there to be the focus of everyone's attention instead? (Likely answer: in Sagan's book the mom doesn't die, so they added the death but didn't think it through).

The alien is trimmed. He (it?) doesn't pretend to be dad. The exchange is more matter of fact.

Kitz, the government-knows-best man, is trimmed during the Senate hearing. His attack is toned down, making him less of a Hollywood caricature.

Hadden, the industrialist, is trimmed. Sadly, because I like Hurt's performance! His exposition of Ellie's childhood is trimmed. The extra information doesn't further the film, and it removes the question of how (and why?) Hadden got that family video. His death scene is cut. We already knew Hadden was terminally ill, seeing his death didn't further the plot. Kitz no longer mentions Hadden at the Senate, so the cutaway didn't make sense anymore.

The suicide pill is cut. The idea has been debunked by enough qualified people, including astronaut Lovell and several NASA directors, to not believe that astronauts were given these. It wasn't relevant to the further story (Ellie doesn't use or contemplate using it), and frankly I found the actor who presents the pill frustrating. His performance reminded me of Carl Sagan's style and delivery, not as an homage but as an unsuccessful "I want to be like".

Multiple trims for pacing. The test in Florida. The preparation for Ellie's launch. Fewer shots of her walking the gantry and strapping in. Less hesitation from the controller. Ellie's wormhole journey, and on the beach.

The film now ends on the cliffhanger of Kitz and Constantine talking about the 18 hours of static. Partial cliffhanger: we still get the reveal of the static but we no longer see Ellie go back to the same life as if nothing happened, nothing changed. That was a huge downer. To add insult to injury, when a schoolkid asked this now world-famous maybe-space traveller whether life exists out there, she DUCKED the question. Argh! Instead, the scene with the school kids is moved to before she discovers the signal (with corrected time card).

Several moments are trimmed where the filmmakers hit us over the head with obvious or annoying lines. Gone are "Does anybody speak German?", "Where can I buy a great dress?", one close-up of the religious terrorist.

One special effect is cut: Ellie's face coming out of her face during the wormhole journey. Yeah, that sounds weird but it's what they did. Anyway, the effect wasn't great and isn't needed for the story.

Epilogue: Carl Sagan talks about Contact, extraterrestrials, science and religion. Audio only over the end credits (excerpt from Studs Terkel interview 1985).
Cover art by lapis molari (DOWNLOAD HERE)
image

Trailer (Password: fanedit.org)

Trusted Reviewer reviews

3 reviews
Overall rating
 
9.3
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0(3)
Audio Editing
 
9.3(3)
Visual Editing
 
8.7(3)
Narrative
 
9.3(3)
Enjoyment
 
9.0(3)
Overall rating
 
9.3
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
8.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
First of all, let me start by saying that the decision to remove several lines of dialogue and some sublots was absolutely correct, in my opinion.

The talk with the alien is a little more rational and grounded now. The rest of the changes on the 3rd act also keep the story more focused and with a clear direction. The ending is now great, that is the best place to close the story.

My only point of (constructive) criticism is at 1h37m time (the farewell scene with Palmer). On a single cut near the end of that scene, on both video and audio, the cut is too obvious and "out of place". This is likely due to the fact that there is no way around it, considering the choice of changing Palmer's stupid sabotaging (and I absolutely agree with that change).

I would suggest it would be better to remove that entire scene, I don't think the story loses anything (the way it works now) if Palmer is not there to say goodbye. Ellie's personality and the way she is presented to us doesn't require a "farewell scene" at all.

Actually, her other close friend, Kent, also travels to Japan (we see him inside the control room and he is crucial in that scene), but he doesn't have to say goodbye to Ellie and it works fine that way. I would therefore argue that the same thing happening with Palmer would be just fine (only being present in the control room would be enough).

In this way, the cut would happen just after the Japanese men says "Dr. Arroway, time to get ready" and the film would go directly to the elevator door opening scene.

Another argument for this: Palmer and Ellie's hug, after her hearing, as well as his little speech after that, already serve as the culmination of their relationship.

This is now, for sure, my go-to version of the film.
Thanks for this!

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
Digital
Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0
Overall rating
 
8.9
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
8.0
Enjoyment
 
7.0
Maybe I was more impressed than I should’ve been when I first watched this last month. Maybe I should’ve waited longer before revisiting it, after finishing up with the book just earlier today. Either way, the initial watch was ultimately better than this one for me. Zemeckis has such a wit to his editing (e.g. using match cuts both in a literal and thematic sense) that anything not in-line with it felt kind of jarring. That doesn’t mean I noticed every cut made in this fanedit, certainly not, but enough to never keep me fully immersed. Furthermore, while I do agree that the tone of some stuff removed in this edit was far too sappy, cliche, and otherwise just downright silly, and cutting it out was definitely a wise decision, it strangely feels like doing so has achieved quite the opposite of the intended effect. Without those hyper-filmic, borderline parodic moments for the rest of the film to contrast against, it all ends up feeling less grounded as a whole. The highest Peaks of Ridiculousness are gone, sure but a lot of the movie wasn’t exactly residing in Earnest Valley to begin with. To me this edit actually felt a lot less tangible. Even moreso because of the nearly elusive pace introduced. Sixteen minutes were cut, which sounded reasonable to me beforehand, but in hindsight I think the original was a lot more careful than I realized. All the same story beats are here, just without the same impact. However, I seem to be the exception on all this, and both in terms of the narrative and technical aspects, this edit certainly still “works”.
Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 2 0
Overall rating
 
9.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
A significant improvement of an already wonderful film. Highly recommended!
I love the Theatrical Cut, despite its flaws, but this edit is far superior. The trims, though mostly unnoticeable, greatly improve the pacing and get rid of weaker elements in the plot. Gone are cheesy moments and some tropes, such as the dead mother that does not contribute anything to the plot.
There were two trims I found slightly jarring - at 1:10:19 and at the very end. Upon further inspection, the first was a bit jarring even in the TC, and the other was because of good reasons (moving the epilogue to a more reasonable time slot).
Bottom line - this edit is beautifully edited, and my new go-to version of the film.

User Review

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Yes
Format Watched
Digital
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User reviews

8 reviews
 
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7-9 stars
 
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1-3 stars
 
0%
Overall rating
 
9.6
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.8(8)
Audio Editing
 
9.5(8)
Visual Editing
 
9.5(8)
Narrative
 
9.5(8)
Enjoyment
 
9.9(8)
View all user reviews View most helpful
Overall rating
 
9.3
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
I loved the movie when I was a kid and named my next cats Vega and Lyra after watching it. The characters annoyed me back then as they annoyed me now, the heavy breathing, constantly on the verge of breakdown demeanour that Jodie Foster calls acting, the insufferably arrogant chauvinism pumping through the veins of the movie right until the very last scene, it's all a little too much and I'm never quite sure if the tension I feel watching it is induced by the heart pounding screenplay or the eye-straining, wrinkled forehead and jutted jaw of Jodie. But it's a good movie, and lapis molari has done it justice by streamlining it to reduce the 90s cringe and I can't fault any of the edit as it appeared flawless to me.

However, the Carl Sagan narrative seemed a little unnecessary, or perhaps it could have had a better effect if it was around 30 seconds into the credits, the movie has finished, the music fades, there's some rustling, then Carl Sagan starts his spiel. I hadn't seen the movie in a while and I was curious about this ending but for it to come straight as the movie finished was an unwelcome surprise and it was all too much like changing the channel too quickly. But there's something there of value for sure. Thanks Lapis.

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
Digital
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0
Overall rating
 
9.5
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
It's been a while since I watched the original, so I don't remember every detail of it, but I found this a superior experience. I remember a lot of the interactions with Palmer Joss (interactions now cut) being really annoying, with him sabotaging her chances of going and all that. The rest of what was cut I didn't miss at all, and from a look at the cut scenes listed under Changes, I think it must have been a lot of unnecessary junk.

Technically, the edit was quite good, though I found the audio somewhat too quiet for the whole film, in contrast with most films I watch. Perhaps the original was that way, I don't recall now. I had to turn it up extra to hear the words I was seeing with the subtitles.

The only area of the narrative I felt was a bit off was in the last part (in Japan) where Palmer apologizes to Ellie. Presumably he was apologizing for sabotaging her chances, but with that plotline removed, it left me as the viewer wondering what he was apologizing for.

I can see how the lecture audio over the end credits might fit, though I personally didn't enjoy it as much and felt a more classic end credits bit of music would have fit better. I definitely enjoyed watching the edit, though, and find it superior enough to the original to replace it for any future rewatches.

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Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
Digital
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0
Overall rating
 
9.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
Simply a great improvement on the original.

Two thumbs up lapis molari!

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Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
Digital
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0
(Updated: September 26, 2021)
Overall rating
 
9.5
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
I was pleasantly surprise by this fanedit that I would like the movie more than I thought I would because as Mr. Garrison said from south park: "wasted 3 hours just for the aliens to turn out to be her dead father". But what Lapis Molari did right was make more about the female protagonist's journey of overcoming her grief of her dead father and having a renewed sense of life than if whether aliens exists or not which they do but that is not the main point. They also toned down not just the annoying characters but also the philosophical debates which can be repetitive at times which is a plus too but the editing at those parts is too obvious.

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched
Digital
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful? 0 0
Overall rating
 
9.5
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
I really enjoyed this edit. I am a fan of Carl Sagan and the novel Contact. Like lapis molari, I enjoyed but didn't love the original film. This edit is a nice improvement. The pacing is good, I agree with everything that was removed, and moving the bizarre ending scene really helped. Unfortunately the ending in this edit seems very abrupt, although I don't have any idea of how that could be improved. The only other minor quibble is a jarring edit in the scene in Ellie's quarters in Hokkaido before her journey - it was jarring enough that I think the scene could have been cut altogether.

I really appreciate the extra video clip that was included and the audio interview at the end. Excellent stuff.

Thanks lapis molari for your great work and giving me reason to experience this story again!

User Review

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Yes
Format Watched
Digital
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