Contact (1997) Script


MAN 1 [ON RADIO]: Clearly, I've never been there, but...

MAN 2:usually the situation, obviously a major malfunction.


MAN 3: Whether or not their president is a crook.

MAN 4: Well, I'm not a crook.

MAN 5: Small step for man, one giant leap for...

MAN 6: Robert Kennedy was shot in that ballroom.

MAN 7: Thank God almighty, we are free at last.

MAN 8: A sniper has fired at President Kennedy.

MAN 9: The Communist party...

...or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?

MAN 10: Old soldiers never die. They just...

MAN 11: Hi-yo, Silver!

MAN 12: Something never before experienced...

MAN 13: 1941, a date which will live...

MAN 14: And we continue this final edition of our Maxwell House Good News of 1939.

MAN 15: Good evening, Mr. And Mrs. North America...

...and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press.


GIRL: CQ, this is W-9 GFO.

CQ, this is W-9 GFO here. Come back?


CQ, this is W-9 GFO here.

Come back?



CQ, CQ, this is W-9 GFO. Is anybody out there?

Not getting anything.

Small moves, Ellie.

Small moves.

CQ, this is W-9 GFO here. Come back?

MAN: Copy, W-9 GFO. K-4 WLD here.

What do I say? Just be yourself.

Where are you, K-4 WLD? Come back? Pensacola. Over.

Pensacola, where's Pensacola?

I'll give you a hint.

Orange juice.

Copy that, K-4 WLD. How's the weather down there in Florida?

TED: Pensacola, Florida.

I have to tell you, Sparks... thousand, one hundred and sixteen miles.

Pretty good. That's the farthest yet.

ELLIE: Can we hear all the way to New York? TED: Sure.

ELLIE: Can we hear all the way to California? TED: I don't see why not.

ELLIE: Can we hear all the way to Alaska? TED: Yeah, on a really clear day.

ELLIE: Can we hear all the way to China?

TED: On a really, really clear day.


ELLIE: Could we talk to the moon?

TED: Well, if it's a big enough radio, I don't see why not.

ELLIE: Could we talk to Jupiter?

Or what's the one after that?

Don't tell me.

TED: I'll give you a hint.


Saturn. Could we talk to Saturn? Mm-hm.

Dad, could we talk to Mom?

I don't think even the biggest radio could reach that far.

All right, no more stalling.



Oh, Ellie, that's a beauty.

Now get some sleep.

Hey, Dad? Yeah?

Do you think there's people on other planets?

I don't know, Sparks.

But I guess I'd say...

...if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space.


CQ, this is W-9 GFO.

Repeat. This is W-9 GFO. Come back?

CQ, this is W-9 GFO. Come back?

I'm gonna need a bigger antenna.

MAN: What do you think, Doctor Arroway?

Isn't she a beauty?

Lt'll do.

FISHER: The village is five miles away.

There's a general store in the cantina. They can order anything from San Juan.

ELLIE: And when can I get some dish time?

FISHER: Dr. Clark said you wouldn't be able to wait. Your first shift is tonight.

ELLIE: All right.


Go back.

Try back a little bit. You had something there.



Right there? You hear it? Right there, that's it.

ELLIE: All right, 1221.46. That's well within the L band.

Check off-axis. Uh-huh. On it.

It's not in the neighborhood.


Here it is. J-1741 plus 2748.

Catalogued November 4, 1982. Pulsar.

Well, I don't know, it must've been... The glitch in the timing is what threw me.

Must've been a starquake.


I think it's great that you listen. Most people don't do that anymore.

It's just an old habit. You know, it makes it feel more real.

Ellie. Kent. Kent Clark.


They said you've been up at Owens Valley working under Drumlin.

How did you like him?


That much? And about what I'd expect after what he had to say about you.

What was that?

That you are brilliant, driven...

...a major pain in the ass, and obsessed with a field of study...

...that he considers tantamount to professional suicide.

Anything else? Those were the highlights.

Davio, Dr. Vernon. Dr. Arroway.

ELLIE: Hey. Hi there. How you doing?

And I believe you've already met our tireless research assistant, Mr. Fisher...

Here, I need you to sign... well as his cologne.

Brook's looking at the black hole at the center of M-87.

Eli's studying Markarian 541, a major gamma-ray source.

And Dr. Arroway will be spending her precious telescope time listening for, um...

Listening for...

Little green men.

One down, a couple billion to go.


Arecibo, right?

Does it show?


Cracker Jack? No, thanks.

Mind if I sit down? Sure.

I hear the locals, they call it El Radar.

Convinced it has some dark military purpose.

I think we're pretty harmless.

Palmer Joss.

Ellie Arroway. Nice to meet you, Ellie.

What are you studying up there?

The usual.

You know. Nebulae, quasars, pulsars, stuff like that.

What are you...? What are you writing?

The usual. Nouns, adverbs, adjective here and there.

I work on a project called SETI.

Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence?

Wow. Man, that is out there.

Wait, are you a student or something?

Mm-mm. I'm a writer. I'm writing a book.

Down here doing research about how technology affects Third World cultures.

I'm also looking for this guy David Drumlin.

He's the new head of the National Science Foundation. I'm trying to get an interview.

I take it you know him? Mm-hm.

You could say that.

SETI, man. That's fringe.

I've crossed paths with this guy.

Something like that must really chap his ass, huh?


For you, EI.

You better keep this.

Might save your life someday.

Will you have dinner with me tonight?


I don't make a very good research subject. I'm just not very quotable.

No quotes. No quotes. Scout's honor. Just a good meal, good company.

I gotta go.

But, uh...

Drumlirs coming in this Tuesday.

Now I remember why I took that desk job.

Dr. Drumlin, how are you? Dr. Drumlin.

Glad you could make it, David.

If I'd known it was gonna take three planes, I might've reconsidered.

How is that new office?

I'm still settling in. They already wanna take half my budget and give it to the Pentagon.

Ellie. Still waiting for E.T. To call?

Well, I understand we're having a little... Good to see you too.


Uh-oh. Looks like it's gonna be a long night.

Science must first be accountable to the people who are paying for it, the taxpayers.

We need to stop wasting money on pie-in-the-sky abstractions...

...and start spending it on practical, measurable ways... improve the lives of the people who are footing the bill.

Not unlike my L-band, globular-clusters work.

Wait, you're saying you wanna do away with all pure research now?

What's wrong with science being practical? Even profitable?

Nothing, as long as your motive is the search for truth.

Which is exactly what the pursuit of science is.

That's a rather interesting position...

...coming from a man on a crusade against the evils of technology...

...Father Joss.

PALMER: I'm not against technology, doctor.

I'm against the men who deify it at the expense of human truth.

Kent, I've been meaning to have a word with you. Over here, please.

KENT: Yeah, I'll just...

I think that hurt my chances with that interview. What do you think?

You're a priest?

No, not really.

I got my Masters in Divinity...

...then dropped out of seminary to do some secular humanitarian work...

...coordinating efforts for Third World churches.

I couldn't live with the whole celibacy thing.

You could...

You could call me a man of the cloth...

...without the cloth.

You wanna get out of here?

All right, you see that sort of large, W-shaped constellation right there?

That's Cassiopeia.

And Cassiopeia A gives off a whole lot of radio signals.

I actually listen to them a lot. It's a remnant of a supernova.

When did you know you wanted to be an astronomer?

Well, when l...

When I was about 8 years old, I was watching the sunset...

...and I asked my dad, "What's that bright star over there?"

Dad, what's that star there?

And he said that it wasrt really a star at all. It was actually...

That's not a star, it's a planet.

A whole planet called Venus...

That's the planet Venus.

Which should be over there soon.

He said, "You know why they called it Venus?

Because they thought it was so beautiful and glowing.

But what they didn't know... that it's filled with...

...deadly gases and sulfuric acid rain."

"Wow," I thought, "This is it! I'm hooked."

You know, there are four hundred billion stars out there...

...just in our galaxy alone.

If only one out of a million of those had planets...

...all right, and ifjust one out of a million of those had life...

...and ifjust one out of a million of those had intelligent life...

...there would be literally millions of civilizations out there.

Well, if there wasrt...'d be an awful waste of space.


PALMER: So I was lying there, just looking at the sky.

And then I felt something. I don't know, l...

All I know is that I wasrt alone.

And for the first time in my life I wasrt scared of nothing, you know?

Not even dying.

It was God.

And there's no chance that... had this experience because some part of you needed to have it?

I mean, I'm a reasonably intelligent guy, but this...

No, this... No, my intellect, it couldn't even touch this.


I've been to Sunday school a few times.

Uh-huh. And?

Well, I just kept asking all these really annoying questions like:

"All right, then where did Mrs. Cain come from?"

And pretty soon they called my dad and they asked him...

...if he wouldn't mind just keeping me home from now on.

Your dad...

Is it this guy? Yeah.

You're close to him, aren't you?

Yeah, I was. He died when I was 9 years old.

I never got to know my mother.

I'm sorry.

That's gotta be tough.


Being alone.

What do you say...

...we pack a picnic tomorrow morning and hike up to old Mount Arecibo?

I don't think I can. I gotta work.

All right, how about dinner, then, tomorrow night? I know a great dive.

I don't think so.

Ellie, did I miss something? Huh?

No. Shit, I'm late.

I told Kent that I'd be there at 10:30.

You know, I'm not trying to push you.

No, no. I've wanted to look at this sector for weeks.

Just hang out and sleep in. And there's a bunch of food in the fridge.


How can I reach you?

Just leave your number. I'll call you.


Dad, it's starting, you're gonna miss it.

Dad, there's another one. Hurry up.

TED: In a minute, Sparks. I'm almost done.

There's another one. Come on, hurry up, Dad!





I'll get the medicine.


I know it's hard to understand this now...

...but we aren't always meant to know why things happen the way they do.

Sometimes we just have to accept it as God's will.

I should have kept some medicine in the downstairs bathroom.

Then I could've gotten to it sooner.



...this is W-9 GFO. Do you copy?

Dad, this is Ellie. Come back.

This is Eleanor Arroway...

...transmitting on 14.2 megahertz.


Are you there?

Come back.


Are you there?

Dad, this is Ellie.




Hi, Kent. What are you doing up so early, huh?

I was thinking...

...we'd make a pretty good team.


We could put together a kick-ass ad-hoc SETI program.

You know the Very Large Array in New Mexico?

It would be a dynamite place to do serious SETl...

What are you talking about, Kent?

Drumlin pulled the plug.

We're homeless.

Hey, watch it.

ELLIE: Is it true, huh? Did you pull the plug?

You can't see it now, but I'm doing you a favor.

You are far too promising a scientist to be wasting your gifts on this nonsense.

Look, I don't consider what could be...

...the most important discovery of the human race nonsense, okay?

There's 400 billion stars...

And two probabilities. One, there is intelligent life...

...but it's so far away you'll never contact it in your lifetime.

And two! You're making a decision...

There's nothing but noble gases and carbon compounds and you're wasting your time.

In the meantime, you won't be published, won't be taken seriously.

And your career will be over.

So what? It's my life.

Hey, Kent. You were right.

Screw Drumlin. We're gonna raise the money. We're going to New Mexico.

KENT: Chicago has all the stuff, but let me know how it goes.

I've got some more corporate stops on the East Coast for you.

Hey, Fish, did that investor from Houston ever get back to us?

FISHER: I'm gonna hit him up on my way to L.A.

ELLIE: Try begging for some of that Hollywood money.

Why not? They've been making money off of aliens for years, right?

Begging is good for the soul. We'll see about that.

Just do me a favor. Yeah.

Try not to be too confrontational.

Huh? Confrontational? Me? What do you mean?

I'm gonna see if I left anything.

ELLIE: This is a unique time in our history, in the history of any civilization.

It's the moment of the acquisition of technology.

That's the moment where contact becomes possible.

The Very Large Array in New Mexico is the key to our chances for success.

With its 27 linked radio telescopes...

...we can search more accurately than at any other conventional facility.

Now, we've gotten approval to buy the telescope time from the government.

Now all we really need is the money.

A nice presentation, doctor.

But while our foundation arm has a mandate to support experimental programs...

...we must confess that your proposal seems less like science...

...and more like science fiction.

Science fiction.

You're right.

It's crazy.

In fact, it's even worse than that: Nuts.

You wanna hear something nutty?

A couple guys wanted to build something called an airplane.

You get people to go in it and fly like birds. Ridiculous, right?

Or what about breaking the sound barrier...

...or rockets to the moon, or atomic energy or a mission to Mars?

Science fiction, right?


All I'm asking is for you to just have the tiniest bit of vision.

You know, to just step back for one minute and look at the big picture.

To take a chance on something...

...which might end up being the most profoundly impactful moment...

...for humanity, for the history of history.

I'm sorry.

I just spent the last 13 months...

...coming into rooms like this and talking to people like you.

The truth is, you're my last chance, so...

I'm sorry I wasted your time.


Yes, sir.

You have your money.

Thank you.


MAN: Oh! Perfect cast. Come on, fishy.

Frank, look at the size of that son of a bitch!

Welcome back, Dr. C.

How'd it go?

How was the trip? I've had better.

Drumlin. What is this? This his personal vendetta now?

It's not just Drumlin. There's been enormous pressure from other scientists as well.

It doesn't matter anyway, Hadders funding us for another two years.

Uh... These are government-owned telescopes, they can lease to whomever.

And they don't want the high priestess of the desert using them anymore.


Staring at static on TV for hours, listening to washing machines.

Did you really think these stories wouldn't get out?

I was looking for patterns in the chaos. Doesrt matter, we're a joke to them.

They want us out.

We've got three months until the paperwork goes through.

Fine. I'll start looking for other funding. I'll just start...

Could you face reality, please? Just this once, Ellie. We lost.

It's over.


But I'm not stopping.

If I have to go it alone, I'll go it alone. I've done it before.

My guest tonight is author and theologian Palmer Joss.

He's become a spiritual counselor of sorts and a recent fixture at the White House.

"God's Diplomat," according to The New York Times.

His latest book, Losing Faith, is currently number one...

...on that publicatiors bestseller list.

Thanks for being with us, Palmer.

You have had quite a ride this last couple of years.

Yeah, I sure have, Larry.

You know, Fish, I was thinking.

Who would make the best astronomers? I mean, think about it.

Who has the perfect synthesis of career and lifestyle?

I give. Vampires!

Are you anti-technology? Are you anti-science?

PALMER: No, not at all.

The question that I'm asking is this:

Are we happier as a human race?

Is the world fundamentally a better place because of science and technology?

We shop at home, we surf the Web...

...but at the same time we feel emptier...

...and more cut off from each other than at any other time in human history.

I mean, we're becoming a synthesized society... a great, big hurry to get to the next...

I think it's because we're looking for the meaning. What is the meaning?

We have mindless jobs, we take frantic vacations.

Deficit finance trips to the mall to buy more things...

...that we think are gonna fill these holes in our lives.

Is it any wonder that we've lost our sense of direction?


Holy shit.


Right ascension, 18 hours, 36 minutes, 56.2 seconds.

Declination, plus 36 degrees, 46 minutes...

...56.2 seconds!


Right ascension, 18 hours, 36 minutes, 56.2 seconds!

Hey, is anybody awake in there? I'm moving the array!

Confirm! Boss has a bogey!

Right ascension, 18 hours, 36 minutes, 56.2 seconds.

Fish! We're on it.

Plus 36 hours, 47 minutes and 1 second.

Strong possible pulse chain on Sub-Array 4.

I'm moving the rest of them now. I need you to confirm the coordinates.

Check the status of the array.

She's doing all the dishes. All systems nominal.


I need a full systems check.

Coordinates confirmed. Willie's checking the system now.

Stay on top of the systems diagnostics.

Check the reference point offsets.

And I want you off-axis on 27 the second we get there.

And tell Willie to break out the big boy.

Copy that. Willie...

Yeah. Go, Ellie.

I can hear can it on the headphones. We gotta be sure about this.

Give me another array status.

Her four are online, the rest are tracking in.

FISHER: Your four are online, the rest are tracking in.

But there's a bad drive on 16.

Your four are online, the rest are tracking in...

...but there's a bad drive on 16. Copy that?

What do you want me to do about the source queue?

Look, forget about it and hold the queue.

Go get ready to set the target frequency to manual the second we're aligned.

Do you copy? I want you to go off-axis on 27 the second we're there.

And leave the LO frequency where it is.

Stay on it, Fish, don't let it get away. If you lose it, scan the band.

Run every frequency you can think of.

How you doing?

Talk to me, guys.

Partially polarized set of moving pulses, amplitude modulated.

We're locked. Systems check out, signal across the board. What's the frequency?

4.46, 23 gigahertz.

Hydrogen times pi. Told you.

Strong sucker too.

I got it! I got it, I got it! I'm patched in.

ELLIE: All right, let me hear it.


Listen to that.

Make me a liar, Fish.

It could be AWACS out of Kirtland jamming us.

But I'm doubting it.

All right, let's see if F.U.D.D.'s reading it too.

Willie, patch it back and give me the off-axis.

Are we recording? Never stopped.

Thank you, Elmer.

AWACS status is negative.

White Sands? On this frequency? No.

I'm gonna punch up the darks.

How's the spying tonight, guys? Come on.

FISHER: NORAD's not tracking any snoops in this vector.

Shuttle Endeavor is in sleep mode.

Okay, point source confirmed.

Whatever it is, it ain't local. Position?

WILLIE: I checked interferometry. Somewhere in Lyra, I think.

Vega? FISHER: Can't be.

It's only 26 light years away.

What's the peak intensity? FISHER: Coming up.

ELLIE: Vega.

Vega. I scanned it a bunch of times at Arecibo. It was negative results, always.

Got it. Reading over 100 janskys.

Jesus. I could pick it up on my...




Come on.

All right, it's restarting.

Wait a minute. Those are numbers.

That was a three, the one before it was a two.

Base-10 numbers. Just start counting now, see how far can we get.


WILLIE: Seven. ELLIE: Seven.

Those are primes.

Two, three, five, seven, those are all prime numbers.

There's no way that's a natural phenomenon.

Holy shit. Okay, okay.

Let's just calm down and pull up the star file on Vega.

FISHER: It doesn't make any sense. The system is too young... it can't have a planetary system...

...let alone life or a technological civilization.

Maybe they didn't grow up there. Maybe they're visiting.

Spacecraft? This system is full of debris. It would get clobbered.

Well, not if they used their laser blasters and photon torpedoes.

That's not funny. How else are we gonna explain it?

Willie's right. If we go public with this and we're wrong, that's it.

It's over. We're cooked.

God, I wish Kent was here.

Whatever the signal is, we better do something soon. Vega's gonna set.

Position confirmed. We've got 4.4623 gigahertz, confirmed.

We've got 112 janskys.

All right, do you have a source location yet?

We put it right smack in the middle.


Okay, thanks, lan. Keep tracking and we'll get back to you.

Yeah, right-o.

FISHER: Okay, 101.

The pulse sequenced through every prime number between two and 101.

Who are we gonna call now?


MAN 1 [ON TV]: The rumors are flying, the implications extraordinary.

This morning's detection of an unidentified radio source from deep space...

...can neither be confirmed nor denied.

But the military presence arriving...

MAN 2: Sources close to the VLA report that the planet has been contacted... some form of intelligent being... outside of our solar system. Again, there is no confirmation...

...that the official IAU communiqué was sent from this government facility.

KITZ: I want all of these people out of here.

Where's the girl?

Twenty-two stations worldwide now confirming the signal.

Vega is currently below our horizon... what you're hearing is the signal from-

Get decryption people in here now. Lunacharsky is visiting at Cal Tech.

Explain this to me.

If the source of the signal is so sophisticated, why the remedial math?

Exactly, why don't they speak English?

Maybe because 70 percent of the planet speaks other languages.

Mathematics is the only truly universal language.

It's no coincidence that they're using primes.

I don't get it. Prime numbers.

That would be integers that are only divisible by themselves and one.

We think this may be a beacon, some kind of an announcement... get our attention.

If it's attention you want, you got that. One thing: Vega.

People have been looking at Vega for years with no results.

And now yesterday they start broadcasting primes. Why?

Well, it's hardly yesterday, because the signal has been transmitting for 26 years.

Dr. Arroway.

Excuse me, who are you? Michael Kitz, National Security Advisor.

Let me first say that your...

Actually, first, could you ask the gentlemen with the firearms to wait outside?

This is supposed to be a civilian facility.

Doctor, with all due respect to your... Excuse me.

Hey, hey, hey. Hi, I'm so glad you're back.

Come on, I got something for you to hear. Is this great?

Who are all these people? I have no idea.

Sit down. And we could use some help with the spectrum analysis.

Listen to that. I'll get on it. Headsets.

So I'll just come right to the point, shall I?

Your having sent this all over the world may constitute a breach of national security.

This isn't a person-to-person call.

You can't think that a civilization sending this would intend it just for Americans.

I'm saying you might have consulted us.

The contents could be extremely sensitive. You want to classify prime numbers?

Mike, please. We're only in line with Vega so many hours a day.

The only way to monitor the signal is to get the cooperation of other stations.

If Dr. Arroway hadrt acted quickly, we could have lost key elements.

Okay, fine, they've got the primes.

If you're right about there being a more significant transmission...

Which will need help to receive and decode.

Doctor, do you understand that my job is to protect...?

KENT: Shh! What?

Listen. I hear it.

Hear what? Harmonic.

Bingo. I had Willie ask Rattan to retune to 8.9247 gigahertz.

There's a lot more here, folks.

Fish, let's get on the negative sideband. FISHER: I'm already on it.

KITZ: What is going on? DRUMLIN: Another signal.

Another signal, look at that.

A second signal at double the frequency. It looks like a...

Somebody get a TV monitor.

Patch the recording into the image processor.

You want the new data? Yeah, the new frequency we just recorded.

David, explain this to me, please.

With the prime there's another signal. Looks like a TV transmission.

WILLIE: We're hot.

Do me a favor, go get the blinds. There is a lot of glare.

You're patched in.

All right, it's definitely an image. Let's try and stabilize it.

What do you make of that, Fish?

It's two different interlaced frames. I'm framing one.

ELLIE: It's just noise. FISHER: Trying frame two.

I've got an offset carrier here. I think it's audio.

Plug it in, plug it in.

Center that segment.

FISHER: Centering.

Can you clean it up any more than that? FISHER: I'm working on it.

What the hell...?

Try zooming out.

All right, freeze.

Reverse values.

Try zooming out again.

Rotate 90 degrees counterclock...



Okay. KENT: What's going on?

You're not gonna believe this.

Does anybody speak German?

"I declare the Games in Berlin... the celebration...

...of the first Olympics of the new era has opened."

Get me the White House.

Twenty million people died defeating that son of a bitch...

...and he's our first ambassador to outer space?

Actually... The broadcast from the '36 Olympics...

...was the first television transmission that went into space.

That they recorded it and sent it back is saying, "Hello, we heard you."

Or, "Sjeg Heil, you're our kind of people."

Wait. Hitler and his politics have nothing to do with this.

It's highly unlikely they would understand, and people need to understand...

The people are in very good hands, Dr. Arroway.

We'll take it from here.

WOMAN [ON TV]: The White House has just released...

Smile, folks. We're on.

A statement confirming a message from deep space...

...has been received by American scientists. Claire Shipman is at the White House.

Donna, we've been told the president will have only a few remarks...

...about today's announcement...

...and that he won't be taking any questions from the press.

Good afternoon.

I'm glad to be joined by my science and technology advisor.

This is the product of years of exploration... some of the world's most distinguished scientists.

Like all discoveries, this one will and should continue to be reviewed...

...examined and scrutinized.

It must be confirmed by other scientists.

The fact that something of this magnitude is being explored is another...

Fish, what is the story over here? I thought Ellie was supposed to be on.

I don't know.

Guys? Guys? Um...

You know those interlaced frames that we thought were noise?

This has structure. I'm hearing structure.

If this discovery is confirmed... will be one of the most stunning insights into our universe...

...that science has ever uncovered.

Its implications are as far-reaching and awe-inspiring as can be imagined.

Even as it promises answers to some of our oldest questions... poses still others, even more fundamental.

We will continue to listen closely to what it has to say... we continue the search for answers and for knowledge...

...that is as old as humanity itself but essential to our people's future.

Thank you. MAN: Sir...

Is there a considerable global security threat?

I'll answer your questions at the end, but first a few corrections.

The message was received Friday morning, 6:31 a.m. Mountain Standard Time.

It was largely mathematical, and in spite of reports you may have seen to the contrary...

...appears to be completely benign in nature.

Let me say that again. The message is completely benign.

The president has been in touch with heads of state from around the world...

...and every possible security measure is being taken.

To better explain to you the events of the last 48 hours...

...l'm turning you over to the leader of the team that made this remarkable discovery...

...Dr. David Drumlin, special science advisor to the president.

Thank you, Rachel. Hello.

In 1936 a very faint television signal...

...transmitted the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games... a show of German superior technology.

That signal left Earth at the speed of light...


...and 26 years later arrived in the vicinity of the star we call Vega.

That signal has been sent back to us hugely amplified... unmistakable sign of intelligence.

ELLIE: You're online, Kent, go ahead.

KENT: The Adolf transmission used 25 frames per second but we're receiving 50.

So we canned the other 25 through a series of search algorithms.

We found a series of markers on the top of each frame.

Are you ready? Yeah, go ahead.

Send it, Willie. WILLIE: Okay, here it comes.

KENT: It's digital...

...massive amounts of data which extend right to the higher harmonics.


ELLIE: All right, as you'll see...

...interlaced with the frames of the original Hitler image...

...we found these sections.

Now, we thought they were just noise, but they're actually data...

...huge amounts of it.

When we combine this with the data from the amplification of the original signal...

...we get these encrypted pages of text.

Now, no two are alike and we've uncovered over 10,000 already.

What does it mean, doctor?

Well, we have no idea. It could be anything.

It could be the first volume of an Encyclopedia Galactica.

Instructions to acquaint us with their colonization procedures.

Moses with a few billion new commandments.

How long will it take to decode it?

It could take forever. We really need a primer...

We need to get the best decryption people we have.

I intend to use the VLA as my command post.

In the meantime, my office has made out a preliminary budget.

Wait a minute. This is a privately-funded operation.

We're only leasing dish time from the government...

If there's a more clear case of eminent domain, I've never seen it.

I'm going to recommend we militarize this project.

What? This is my project.

Nobody knows more about these scenarios than I do. David, tell them...

Excuse me, could we calm down here?

Now, I'm going to recommend that Dr. Drumlin coordinate the decryption effort.

However, in light of Dr. Arroway's long experience in these matters...

...for the time being, she will continue to direct operations at the VLA...

...understanding that future discoveries will be kept in strictest confidence...

...until such time as the president...

...can decide the most suitable course of action. Understood?


MAN: This is CNN Breaking News.

The president made a statement, calling the message from Vega... of the most stunning insights into our...

Attendance at religious services has risen a dramatic 39 percent in recent days. police in three German divisions clashed with neo-Nazi protesters.

So it turns out there's life on other planets.

Boy, this is really gonna change the Miss Universe contest.

Health officials from around the world are concerned that the message from Vega...

...might trigger a rash of mass suicides...

...not unlike the recent cult deaths near San Diego...

Even a scientist has to admit...

...that there are some pretty serious religious overtones to all this.

Let's hear from someone whose organization...

...has been accused of conducting its own inquisition:

Richard Rank, head of the Conservative coalition.

Thank you.

This is yet another example of science intruding into matters of faith.

This means they have been reacting to TV signals...

...they got from the 1930s. They're just getting them.

Imagine how disappointed they're gonna be if they're Cubs fans.

We now take you to Jeremy Roth, who is reporting on events... the Very Large Array near Socorro, New Mexico.

Like a bolt from the blue it came.

The message from Vega has caused thousands of believers and non-believers... descend upon the VLA facility here in the desert of New Mexico.

Many have come to protest, many to pray...

...but most have come to participate in what has become the best show in town.



That's right. I'll be there in Vega, thank you very much.

CHORUS [SINGING]: Hajl to Vega Hail to Vega, Hail to Vega Hail to Vega But they have failed!

It's the same people who, again and again...

...have brought us to the brink of destruction.

Who've polluted our air, who've poisoned our water.

Now these scientists...

...have had their chance.

Are these the kind of people...

...that you want talking to your God for you?


MAN [ON TV]: Efforts continue around the clock.

But for now, almost 2 full weeks after the message's arrival...

...scientists here at the VLA still have no answers...

...only more questions.

Jeremy Roth, CNN, Soccorro, New Mexico.

More on the quest for the message's meaning, after this.

They gotta line up somehow.

Yeah, well, this one doesn't fit, either.

We've tried over a million permutations.

Always, I can only get three corners to fit.

I don't understand their significance.

What...? Somebody broke in...



Hey, listen, I don't know who you are, but you broke into the database...

What? Now?



I'll be there.

MAN 1: You should feel fortunate.

He hardly lands for anyone.

MAN 2: Dr. Arroway...

...I presume?

Mr. Hadden.

I've had my eye on you a long time, doctor.

I consider you one of my most valuable long-term investments.

And when it comes to my investments...

...I always do my homework.

Eleanor Ann Arroway...

...born 25th August, 1964...

...De Pere, Wisconsin.

Mother, Joanna, died from complications during childbirth.

Early testing indicated high predisposition...

...towards science and mathematics.

Father, Theodore...

...advised to provide enrichment activities along these lines...

...did so conscientiously until his death...

...from myocardial infarction, November 10, 1974.

You graduated from high school in 1979...

...almost two full years early.

Awarded full scholarship, M.I. T, graduated magna cum laude.

Doctoral work, Cal Tech...

...where you did breakthrough work on the lanthanide-doped ruby maser...

...dramatically increasing the sensitivity of radio telescopes.

Subsequently offered a teaching position at Harvard University...

...which you turned down to pursue SETI work... the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Changes in NSF policy gave rise to certain funding problems... which point you came to my attention.

You compromised our security codes.

Once upon a time...

...I was a hell of an engineer.

Please, sit, doctor.

I have guests so rarely, it's important to me that they feel welcome in my home.

You live here?

I find it convenient to keep my interests...

Anyway, I've had my fill of life on the ground.

Well, l... I guess I should...

Well, I guess I should thank you for having bailed me out all that time.

I know a good bet when I see one.

Earl Grey. No sugar, no milk, I believe.

What am I doing here?


The powers that be have been very busy lately...

...falling over each other to position themselves for the game of the millennium.

Maybe I can help deal you back in.

I didn't realize that I was out.

No, maybe not out...

...but certainly being handed your hat.

I've had a long time to make enemies, doctor.

And there are many governments, business interests...

...even religious leaders that would like to see me depart this earth.

And I'll grant them their wish soon enough.

But before I do, I wish to make a small contribution.

A final gesture of goodwill to the people of this little planet that have given...

From whom I have taken so much.

You found the primer.

Clever girl.


Pages and pages of data.

Over 63,000 in all.

And on the perimeter of each...

Alignment symbols, a registration mark, but they don't line up.

They do, if you think like a Vegan.

An alien intelligence has got be more advanced...

...and that means efficiency functioning on multiple levels...

...and in multiple dimensions.

Yes, of course!

Where's the primer?

You'll see.

Every three-dimensional page contains a piece of the primer.

There it was all the time, staring you in the face.

Buried within the message itself is the key to decoding it.

Within the layering of the matrix, we have these basic equations:

So with this very elementary foundation, they have given us a kind of...

...general scientific vocabulary.

We now have the symbols for true and false...

This was the key...

...that allowed us to decipher their language...

...for physics, geometry, chemistry. Next frame, Ellie.

Yes, and when we apply this to the rest of the message...

...we find this.

Those look like engineering schematics, almost like blueprints.



It is our belief that the message contains instructions...

...for building something, some kind of machine.

A machine? That does what, doctor?

We don't know. It might be some type...

...of advanced communication device, or a teaching machine of some kind.

Or it might turn out to be some kind of a transport.

Transport? There's no proof of that.

The fact is, you don't know what it does. It could be anything.

Could be a Trojan horse. We build it and out pours the entire Vegan army.

Why bother risking the personnel? It could be a weapon.

Right. Some kind of a doomsday machine.

Exactly. Every time they detect a new civilization...

...they fax these construction documents from space.

We poor saps build whatever this is and blow ourselves to kingdom come.

There's no reason to believe that their intentions are hostile.

Why is the default position of the egghead set that aliens would always be benign?

Why is that, doctor? We pose no threat to them.

It would be like us going out of our way to destroy microbes on an anthill in Africa DRUMLIN: That's an interesting analogy.

And how guilty would we feel if we destroyed a few microbes on an anthill?

I hope you're right, doctor. I really do.

But right now my job is to protect American lives from any threat.

In that regard, I am obligated to assume the worst.

Well, yes, and I am forced to agree with you.

My problem is this:

The content of that message is morally ambiguous at best.

Now, our internal numbers show support for this is incredibly soft.

If the president wishes to stay this course...'re gonna find his numbers going south like a duck.

This is nuts. RANK: Excuse me...


We know nothing of these creatures' values.

The fact is, we don't even know whether they believe in God.

This doesn't make any sense. If you... CONSTANTINE: Excuse me, Dr. Arroway.

We won't be suppressing any opinions here today.

No, of course not. I understand.

What I meant to say... the message was written in the language of science.

Now, if it had been religious in nature, it should have taken the form...

...of a burning bush or a booming voice from the sky.

But a voice from the sky... exactly what you found, Doctor Arroway.

I'm sorry I'm late, ma'am.

Now, I agree with Mr. Rank that there are unavoidable...

...religious implications at stake here.

But that doesn't justify taking an alarmist position.

My hope here is that we can find a common ground...

...break through any obstacles that may have kept us apart.

KITZ: Well, perhaps... Listen, I need to make one thing very clear.

Our organization will not be placated with flowery New Age rhetoric...

Mr. President.

The President met with his top advisors today...

...regarding the latest efforts to decode the message.

While there has been some progress, the official line remains a cautious one.

If you're asking when we'll find out what the purpose of that machine is...

...maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe never.

There he is. The man with his finger on the spiritual pulse of the nation.

It's so good to see you, Ellie. You too.

Your discovery, all of this. It must be a real vindication.

I'm really happy for you.

Are you? Mr. Joss, the president is waiting.

Okay. Yeah. The president is waiting.

Ellie, see you at the reception tonight? Yeah, I wouldn't miss it.

All right, great.

Excuse me, Miss Constantine, may I speak to you?


I have a big problem. Yes?


Do you know where I can find, like, a really great dress?


God created man in the form of himself, not in the form of monkeys!

MAN 1: The Lord is God! MAN 2: Praise God.

MAN 3: Praise the Lord! MAN 4: You're wasting my tax dollars!

Get a job. Don't waste my tax dollars.

You hear me?


You look beautiful, Ellie.

So do you. You really do.

I read your book.

Here we go.

Would you like me to quote you?

"Ironically, the thing that people are most hungry for, meaning... the one thing that science hasn't been able to give them."

Yeah. Yeah.

Come on. It's like you're saying that science killed God.

What if science simply revealed...

...that he never existed in the first place?

I think we're gonna need to get some air. What?

And a few more of these.

Thank you. You're welcome.

A little chilly out here. Yeah, this is nice.

I got one for you. What?

Occam's razor. Ever heard of it?

Hoccam's razor. Sounds like some slasher movie.

No, Occam's Razor. It's a basic scientific principle. It says...

...all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one.

Makes sense to me. All right.

So, what's more likely? Thank you. You're welcome.

An all-powerful, mysterious God created the universe...

...and then decided not to give any proof of his existence?

Or that he simply doesn't exist at all and that we created him... we wouldn't have to feel so small and alone.

I don't know.

I couldn't imagine living in a world where God didn't exist.

I wouldn't want to.

How do you know that you're not deluding yourself?

I mean, for me, I'd need proof.


Did you love your father? What?

Your dad, did you love him?

Yes. Very much.

Prove it.




The White House. Mr. Joss.

DRUMLIN: I don't want excuses. Whoever is responsible, I want their head.

Ellie? What happened?

You were right all along.

The decryption team at the VLA has been working around the clock...

...and the hard work has finally paid off.

This key section, uncovered tonight and obtained exclusively by CNN...

...shows an illustration of what is of a human figure...

...inside a geometric structure of some kind.

This and other contextual clues... lead scientists to believe that the message is, in fact...

President called an emergency meeting. Yeah, I imagine he would.

Designed to take a single human occupant into space...

...presumably to the star Vega.

MAN: I'm gonna miss my mother's birthday party.

KITZ: Call her in the morning, tell her why you didn't show up.

Tell me.

They're gonna build it.

Who gets to go?

The president's just gone international to spread the risk and cost...

Who gets to go, though?

Well, it's complicated, Ellie.


They have formed a group of international candidates.

Now, it's your discovery.

Okay, they understand that. You're at the top of a very short list.

But they're also putting together a selection committee.

It's made of scholars, theologians, scientists, philosophers...

You're on it.

I've been asked, yes.

I guess that means...

...that you're a selector, I'm a selectee and we can't...


What you don't understand, Ellie, is...

I understand. Ellie...

I want you to know, whatever happens, as far as I'm concerned...


...good luck.

Well, whatever you do, make sure he doesn't monopolize the committee.

He is not on the committee, Ellie.


He just resigned as science advisor. He wants to be the one to go.

MAN [ON TV]: The president is already beginning to feel the financial pinch.

Sources say the cost of the project... spiraling to more than a third of a trillion dollars...

...making this what may be the most expensive single project... all of human history.

Meanwhile, months of debate finally reached a conclusion last week... 10 candidates were selected by the IMC...

...representing a cross section of political, philosophical and religious views.

Many of these are the same experts who have been consulting...

...on the Machine's design and function.

They will be actively participating on-site during the construction process.

But the choice of these 10 candidates has not been without controversy.

Fully one-third of the candidates are American.

Many international observers are asking why.

The U.S. Is shouldering an enormous percentage of the financial...

Isn't it true that the contractors, like Hadden Industries...

...are making those contributions in exchange for technology rights?

Different nations are being compensated in different ways. For example...

Japan made headlines when it announced it would forego candidate representation... exchange for the systems integration subcontract.

On what basis do you choose a human being to represent humanity?

Good question, Larry.

Yes, well, if nothing else... should be somebody who is fluent in the language the message was given in.

Science, in this case.

Doctor Arroway, despite your obvious enthusiasm...

...there's been a lot of criticism of late...

...that this whole endeavor is simply too dangerous.

Some of that criticism from scientists.

One Nobel Prize winner recently noted, his words:

"There is every indication...

...that this is simply beyond our capabilities, that this endeavor will fail...

...and that the Machine's occupant will pay for that failure with their life."

How do you respond to that?

ELLIE: Well, this message is from a civilization that may be anywhere...

...from hundreds to millions and millions of years ahead of us.

I have to believe that an intelligence that advanced...

...knows what they're doing.

Now all it requires on our part is...


I was gonna say a sense of adventure.

MAN: And in breaking news...

...a former astronaut...

...considered to be the leading American candidate for the Machine seat...

...has unexpectedly dropped out of the running.

Russell met with reporters this afternoon at his Houston home.

I told my dad that I didn't want him to go.

Daddy, don't go.

Nothing would give me more pride than to...

...represent my country.

But what can I say to this?

Consortium officials had no comment, but sources within the delegation...

...have disclosed that Dr. Arroway...

...appears to now be the front-runner for the Machine seat.

ELLIE: "Meet me at noon. Must talk."

I didn't expect to be getting a message like this from you.

Thanks for coming.

So is this kosher? Fraternizing with the enemy?

Selectors and selectees mingling around?

Can we talk about Einstein?

Yeah, sure. Okay.

Special relativity. Yeah.

This machine..., if it works, and you travel to Vega at even close to the speed of light...

...when you come back... lf you come back.

If you come back...'ll only be 4 years older, but over 50 years would have passed here on Earth.

Basically, yeah.

And everybody that you care about...

...will be gone, dead and buried.

If you came back, if you survived at all, which...

Look, Palmer, nobody's saying this isn't dangerous, all right?

The rest of the candidates and myself, we fully understand the risks we're taking.


Because it's a historic opportunity. The world needs...

No, you, Ellie. You. You personally.

By doing this, you're willing to give your life.

You're willing to die for it.


From as long as I can remember, I've been searching for...


...some reason why we're here. What are we doing here? Who are we?

If this is a chance to find out even just a little part of that answer...

I don't know, I think it's won'th a human life.

Don't you?

You're an incredibly brave woman, Ellie.

Or incredibly nuts.


I'm really confused.

So am I.

I think I speak for us all when I thank you for your patience.

Myself, I have one final question, Dr. Arroway.

If you should meet these Vegans...

...and were permitted only one question to ask of them...

...what would it be?

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?"

That more than any other question is one I personally would like to have answered.

Not too bad, Mike.

PATEL: I join Dr. Bergeron... expressing thanks for your patience, Dr. Arroway.

We've all been most impressed with your candor...

...and your stamina.

I believe we are ready to move on to your final statement.

Madam Chairman, I have one more question.

Yes, Mr. Joss.

Dr. Arroway...

Would you consider yourself...

...a spiritual person?


I don't really understand the point of the question.

I consider myself a moral person.

PATEL: I'm sure we all agree that is the case...

...but I think what Mr. Joss is in fact asking...

Do you believe in God...

...Dr. Arroway?

As a scientist...

...I rely on empirical evidence, and in this matter...

...I don't believe that there is data either way.

PATEL: So your answer would in fact be that you don't believe in God.

I don't understand the relevance of the question.

Dr. Arroway, 95 percent of the world's population...

...believes in a supreme being in one form or another.

I believe that makes the question more than relevant.

PATEL: Dr. Arroway?

I believe, um...

I believe I've already answered that question.

I'm proud of what we've achieved as a species...

...and as a civilization.

I would hate to see everything we stand for...

...all that we have fought for for a thousand generations...

...all that God has blessed us with...

...betrayed... the final hour because we chose to send a representative who did not put our...

...most cherished beliefs first.

Thank you.


Why did you do it?

Ourjob was to select someone to speak for everybody.

I just couldn't in good conscience vote for a person...

...who doesn't believe in God.

Someone who...

...honestly thinks the other 95 percent of us...

...suffer from some form of mass delusion.

I told the truth up there.

And Drumlin told you exactly what you wanted to hear.

DRUMLIN: With full humility and utmost gratitude...

...I accept this great honor...

...and I promise I will do my best to represent my nation... planet and my God on this historic journey.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


MAN [ON TV]: There's a carnival atmosphere at Cape Canaveral... the International Machine Consortium...

...hosts as much a media event as a systems test.

David Drumlin is supervising the on-site portion of the test.

We spoke with him earlier today.

DRUMLIN: We'll be able to monjtor the stresses and effects...

...using the robot passenger...

...who we lovingly call Elmer.

WOMAN [OVER SPEAKER]: We are coming up on T-minus two hours and counting.

All Machine systems are go.

Dr. Arroway, the press would like to ask you a few questions... soon as they're done with Dr. Drumlin.

DRUMLIN: Now, at the moment where we release the pod...

...there will be a substantial amount of energy generated at the core.

We'll be able to monitor the stresses and effects...

...using our robot passenger, who we lovingly call Elmer.


Thank you. Welcome.

WOMAN: The test area is clear and go.

Sir, they're ready for you out at the site.

Yeah, just a minute.

WOMAN: The test director has issued a go to enter the final countdown phase.


Congratulations, David. Glad you could come.

Didrt, uh, expect to see you here.

Well, I'm still, you know, Crew Ops at the Control Center.

And I suppose the fact that I discovered the message means that I have PR value.

Of course.

Ellie, I know you must think this is all very unfair.

And maybe that's an understatement.

What you don't know is, I agree.

I wish the world was a place where fair was the bottom line.

Where the kind of idealism you showed at the hearing was rewarded...

...not taken advantage of.

Unfortunately, we don't live in that world.


...I always believed that the world is what we make of it.

Excuse me, Dr. Drumlin, sir?

Good luck on the test.

The pad leader has issued the order... Thank you. clear the pad of all nonessential... Right this way, sir.

Test director, everything looks good up here. We're ready to go.

STEVE: All right, people, I want things double and triple checked here.

We only get one shot at this. Let's get it right.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are ready for startup.

All controllers, I need a go-no-go for test initiation.

Mechanical? MAN 1: Go.

Electrical? MAN 2: Go.

Dynamics? MAN 3: Go.

Communications? MAN 4: Go.

Pod systems? WOMAN: Go Safety? MAN 5: Go.

Crew Ops, verify all pre-test procedures are complete.

Yes, verified. I'm go.

Pad leader, we are good. Is everything okay with you?

Roger. The pad is a go.

STEVE: Test initiation, on my mark.






MAN 1: Test start. MAN 2: Rings are unlocked.

MAN 3: Power levels indicate a good start.

WOMAN 1: We have begun the full-scale test of Earth's first system...

...built by the sharing of knowledge with a neighbor in our universe.

MAN 4: All power sources on core induction bus.

WOMAN 2: IPV power transfer.

GERRY: Ring motion detect. Alpha, Bravo, Charlie.

STEVE: Gerry, how are we looking? GERRY: Looks good. We're underway.

DRUMLIN: Looks like we have a normal startup.

STEVE: Roger, David. It's looking good here.


WOMAN 1: We are moments away from the initiation of the drop sequence.

All systems are go.

STEVE: Mechanical, you still happy? MAN 1: Roger that.

DRUMLIN: I'll tell you, this is very exciting from up here.

GERRY: We've got 4 percent. DRUMLIN: We're confirming 4 percent.

Frequency 9.85.

Harmonics in the green. G-level 1.1.

Five percent. Confirmed. We are at 5 percent.

David, how's it looking to you?

DRUMLIN: Okay. I'm gonna take a look and show you what we got.

MAN 2: All test-subject instrumentation looks good.

Confirmed, we have a good picture from Dr. Drumlirs PRD.

DRUMLIN: Hope you guys are seeing what I'm seeing.

MAN 3: All systems are go.

DRUMLIN: This is really something.

MAN 4: For purposes of this test...

...Dr. Drumlin will be on top of the gantry crane that's over the Machine.

We've got some video animation... show you just how this machine, it is thought, will work.

The passenger pod will be released.

It will come down through the center of the rings and into the Machine's core.

The big question everyone here is asking is, of course, what happens then?

Some believe that the rings function as some sort of an accelerator or something...

...sending its energy into this passenger pod...

...making it rocket away at near the speed of light.

Other people believe it might open up a doorway to some other dimension.

Who's right? Well, that's what today's test is all about.

GERRY: Thirty-five percent. MAN 1: Subsystems, are you ready?

GERRY: Forty percent normal acceleration. MAN 2: Roger, confirm 40 percent.

STEVE: All controllers stand by to initiate drop sequence...

...on my mark.

MAN 3: All systems ready for drop sequence.

GERRY: Forty-five percent.

DRUMLIN: We're reading 45 percent.

Can you verify closure?

GERRY: Forty-six.

STEVE: All controllers stand by to initiate IPV drop sequence. On my mark.

GERRY: Forty-eight percent.

DRUMLIN: Test djrector, I'm feeling a very strange vibration.

Are you feeling it down there?

STEVE: Gerry, can you confirm any vibration?

GERRY: Negative, everything looks good here.

Crew Ops? Nothing wrong with Elmer.

We're not seeing anything abnormal.

DRUMLIN: No good. Hold the sequence. I'm gonna take a direct reading.

STEVE: What the hell is he talking about? Can anyone say grandstanding?

He sure knows he's on TV!

Back home that's what we call an overcooked ham.

DRUMLIN: I'm reading 10 kilohertz!

What's your reading on the first and second order G-levels?

MAN 1: G-levels are right on.

MAN 2: We confirm Drumlirs readings and they're all normal. We're go.

STEVE: Copy that, Dynamics.

I think we're okay, but we'll let him finish.

Mechanical, you still okay? MAN 3: Roger, chief.

We're right on the money.

We've got a security problem here.

Ellie, are you sure?

Yeah. This guy, he shouldn't be there. I know him.

Gerry, execute the rapid shutdown sequence.

Security, move emergency response team into position one.

Get me Drumlin on a secure loop, please. You got him.

David, can you hear me? DRUMLIN: Yes, I hear.

ELLIE: All right, we've got a security breach here.

Right behind you. The tall guy.

The technician. See him?

He's not supposed to be there.

David, he's got something in his hand!

Him! Take him! Security breach!

He's got a bomb!

STEVE: I want that emergency-response team up on the gantry now.

Security, stage one alert.

By God, move all the fire and rescue personnel into position one.



STEVE: All right, all right, back to your stations.

I need you to be professional, people. Settle down.

Pad leader, pad leader, do you copy?

The scene earlier today, when David Drumlin...

...advisor to two presidents...

...and winner of the National Academy of Sciences lifetime award...

...was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

In a related story, last night's raid...

Can I help you?

Oh, you're... I've got some mail for you. ...resulted in the discovery of this video.

The suicide note of the leader of the terrorist group now believed responsible...

...for the explosion in Florida this week.

What we do, we do for the goodness of all mankind.

This won't be understood, not now...

...but the apocalypse to come...

...will vindicate our faith.


Welcome home.


Oh, Comrade Arroway...

...he has been expecting your call. One moment, please.

Mr. Hadden?


How kind of you to call.

Mr. Hadden, where are you?

The Russian government was kind enough to give me accommodations on Mir.

You're living on a space station?

It's quite simple, really.

The low-oxygen, zero-gravity environment... the only thing keeping the cancer from eating me alive.

Actually, I quite like it up here.

My little room has one hell of a view.

I wanna show you something.

Hokkaido Island.

The systems integration site.

Look closer.

First rule in government spending:

Why build one when you can have two at twice the price?

Only, this one can be kept secret.

Controlled by Americans...

...built by the Japanese subcontractors...

...who also happen to be...

...recently acquired...

...wholly-owned subsidiaries...

...of Hadden Industries. Of Hadden Industries.

They still want an American to go, doctor.

Wanna take a ride?

WOMAN: And augmenting our restraint and communications console subsystem...

...we have your personal recording unit.

Normal, infrared and ultraviolet lenses.

Digital microchip good for thousands of hours of recording.

Okay, look, I understand...

...the reason for recording and documenting the mission.

But I just... I wanna go on record one more time.

The transmitted specs never said anything about any chair...

...or a restraining harness or survival gear.

Why can't we just trust the original...?

Doctor, both the IMC Board and the SI team reviewed the matter...

...and concluded that the design impact is negligible.

Bottom line is...

...we're not putting anybody aboard this machine...

...unless there is some sort of minimal protection.

End of story.

Okay. MAN: Ellie...

...we've been giving these to the astronauts since the beginning of the space program.

It's never been made public, of course.

It's fast and it's painless.

I'm gonna travel 26 light years to commit suicide?

Something may go wrong.

There may be an unforeseen mechanical failure.

You could be marooned, unable to return.

There are a thousand reasons we can think of for you to have this...

...but mostly it's for the reasons we can't think of.


Come in.

Dr. Arroway, time to get ready. Thank you.

I know you don't have much time.

As soon as I found out about the Machine, I called the president.

I came with Kitz.

I had to see you one more time.

Oh, God, I'm sorry. It's okay.

No, I'm glad you came.

There's something I gotta say to you.

The reason I didn't vote for you to go was a good reason, but it wasrt the real one.

I didn't vote for you to go...

...because I don't wanna lose you.

You find your way home, all right?

Twenty-three hours ago...

...the world was stunned by the announcement of a second Machine...

...and its passenger, Eleanor Ann Arroway.

Now the question that's on everyone's mind:

Will history repeat itself?

With a piece of engineering this complex...

...with so many unknowns, could the unthinkable occur?

The security in Hokkaido has been incredibly tight.

No reporters whatsoever have been allowed near the site.


Magnetic restraint is secure. All life support functions normal.

Roger that. Ellie, this is Control. Do you copy?

Ellie to Control, reading you five-by-five.

Comm 1, Give me Ellie's PRD. Video unit recording and transmitting.

Are you reading me? STEVE: That's affirmative.

Video looks good.

Copy that, Control. Okay.

Ellie, we're gonna proceed to button you up.

Roger, Control. I'm ready.

Dynamics... I can confirm the walkway retraction.

STEVE: Systems? MAN 1: Go.

STEVE: Communications? MAN 2: Go.

STEVE: Life support? WOMAN: Go.

Ellie, we are go for closure.

I'm go here.

STEVE: Mechanical, initiate IPV closure sequence.

Hold on, let me get you a chair.

ELLIE: I'm go.

It's nice to smell you again, Mr. Kitz. You too.

Wouldrt peg him as a Polo man.

I got a visual on the door.

WOMAN: IPV escape system is armed.

Door is looking good.

Door alignment looks good.

Ellie, we are showing green across the board.

Copy that, Control. IPV is secure.

GERRY: We are at 30 percent.

Copy that, 30 percent.

How you doing in there, EI? Kent?

Is that you? That's a big affirmative.

Who let you in there, huh?

A higher power intervened.

Well, I'm glad you came.

GERRY: Thirty-five percent.

Copy that, 35 percent.

Mechanical? We're good.

Forty percent.

I'm picking up a moderate vibration here.

Dynamics, can you confirm vibration? GERRY: Everything looks good here.

She's feeling the same thing they felt at the Cape at this point.

Ellie, the vibration is normal.

GERRY: We are at 50 percent. All systems nominal.

Copy that, 50 percent.

Vibration is getting a little stronger now.

We're picking up some low-frequency noise.

Mechanical, can you confirm? It looks fine to me.

STEVE: Roger. Gerry, what do you think? I'm still go.

People, we are still go.

What...? Something's happening.

I'm... There's...

There's a light. Do you see that? I'm seeing some...

Something, some...

I can't tell whether it's daylight or not.

There it is again. It's coming from the bottom.

Here, let me show you. See that?

Negative. Ellie, you're breaking up.

Comm 1, can we boost her signal? Already at maximum.

GERRY: Sixty-five percent.

The material is changing.

It's bordering on translucence. But the system is intact.

It's gotta be some kind of electromagnetic field.

Are you reading this? Negative, we're seeing only interference.

It's becoming completely translucent. I can't describe it. I can't even explain it.

Seventy percent.

People, we have intermittent comm, but we are go.

Initiate secondary drive systems. GERRY: Initiating auxiliary booster sequence.

MAN: We're go for ignition.

We have auxiliary booster ignition.

Life support, how is she doing?

We still have data. Heart and respiration are high but within limits.

Ellie, do you copy?

If you could hear, I am okay to go.

If you could hear me...

Eighty percent.

All vibration and G-levels are in the green.

Control, if you're reading me...

...I am okay to go. Okay to go, GERRY: Eighty-five percent. MAN: All bearing tips are on the profile.

Ninety percent. We're detecting some structural instability.

Confirmed. Is she holding? We're within limits, barely.

I'm okay to go.

My God!

Okay to go. I'm okay.

Hundred percent target velocity.

MAN: Steve?

Tremendous EMI levels around the Machine. All field measurements are off-scale.

Steve, we're approaching our abort limits.

Okay to go.

I hear her!

I hear her. Barely, but she's there.

Okay to go. She says she's okay to go.

Steve, we're real close.

Electrical, reading in the core? MAN: Internal environment normal.

Inside the core, the weather's beautiful.

I'm okay to go.

Okay to go. I'm okay to go.

STEVE: Initiate drop sequence.

On my mark.

Ten, nine...

...eight..., six...

...five, four...

...three, two...

I'm okay to go.

Oh, God!

Ellie to Control.

Ellie to Control, do you read me?

I'm gonna try to keep recording.

I'm going through some kind of a tunnel.

There's a light source ahead.

Brilliant and blue-white.

Residual radiation?

It's a star.

I must have gone through a wormhole.

It's Vega.

I'm in another wormhole now.

I had no idea.

A series of them.

They're alive.

It's like some kind of a transit system.

It's a subway.



Okay, I've gotta keep talking.

It's a triple... No, quadruple system.

It's beautiful.

They're alive.

Another wormhole!

This one is much more violent!


...celestial event...


No words. No words... describe it.


They should have sent a poet.

It's so beautiful.


So beautiful.

I had no idea.

I had no...

I had no idea.

I had no idea. I had no idea.

Hi, Sparks.


I missed you.

Arert you...?

I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you, sweetheart.

You're not real.

None of this is real.

That's my scientist.

When I was unconscious, you downloaded my thoughts, my memory even.


We thought this might make things easier for you.

Why did you contact us? You contacted us.

We were just listening.

And there are others?

Many others.

They all... here through that transit system that you built?

We didn't build it.

We don't know who did.

No, they were gone long before we ever got here.

Maybe someday they'll come back.

All the other civilizations that you find, they come here?

Not all.

Is this some test? No, no tests.

You have your mother's hands.

You're an interesting species... interesting mix.

You're capable of such beautiful dreams...

...and such horrible nightmares.

You feel so lost... cut off, so alone.

Only you're not.


In all our searching...

...the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable... each other.

What happens now?


You go home.

ELLIE: Home?

But I have so many questions.

Do we get to come back?

This was just a first step.

In time, you'll take another.

But other people need to see what I've seen...

This is the way it's been done for billions of years.

But l... Small moves, Ellie.

Small moves.

We've got video on Ellie. Five-by-five.

STEVE: She's through! She is in the net.

She's alive. Get the White House. Get the president on the phone.

What's going on, Steve? How is she? How is she?

STEVE: Ellie, this is Control. Do you copy?

KENT: What's going on? I don't know. Hang on.

She is alive. STEVE: Put her on the PA.

Ellie, just hold on tight.

We're still trying to determine the nature of the malfunction...

...but the important thing is you're okay.


It's all right, Ellie. The important thing is that you're safe.

What malfunction?


What happened?

What day is this?

I'm sorry, Ellie, did you say what day?

How long was I gone?

Ellie, the IPV dropped straight through the Machine.

You didn't go anywhere.

But I did. I did go.

That's what I've been trying to tell everyone.

But the headset didn't record a single image?

Just this. Static.

Thank you.

Now, doctor, let me show you what we saw.

Forty-three separate remote cameras show exactly the same event.

The IPV dropped straight through.

Everyone who watched saw exactly the same thing.

Nothing happened.

How do you explain this, doctor?

I can't.

CLINTON: I would encourage you...

...not to inflame this situation beyond the facts.

Let us deal with this on the facts.

We are monitoring what has actually happened.

We are taking what we believe is factually appropriate steps.

Amid a flurry of accusations and counter-accusations... the nations representing the Machine Consortium...

...the president has ordered a special inquiry.

However, the appointment to the committee of Michael Kitz...

...who has recently resigned as National Security Advisor...

...has raised a number of eyebrows on Capitol Hill.

I have made no decision to run for Congress, I have announced no candidacy.

The fact that I resigned as National Security Advisor...

...has nothing to do with anything...

...other than I want to devote all of my energy to this inquiry.

The people of the world have a right to know what really happened.

And yet every scientific instrument confirms...

...the IPV was out of contact for only a fraction of a second.

Isn't that correct, doctor?

A fraction of a second Earth time, yes.

SENATOR: Earth time?

ELLIE: Senator, I believe that the Machine opened up a wormhole...

...a tunnel through the fabric of space-time, also known as an Einstein-Rosen Bridge.

Now, because of the effects of general relativity, what I experienced as 18 hours...

...passed instantaneously on Earth.

Isn't it true that these wormholes you speak of are merely theoretical predictions?

There is no evidence they actually exist, is there?

ELLIE: There is no direct evidence, no.

KITZ: Tell me something, doctor...

...why do you think these aliens would go to all this trouble?

Bring you tens of thousands of light years and then send you home without proof?

They said that's how it's been done for billions of years.

KITZ: That's very neat. You have no proof because they didn't want you to have any.

A phenomenon known in psychiatric circles, I believe, as a self-reinforcing delusion.

Is that what you think? Delusional?

KITZ: Well, I do think you may have suffered some kind of an episode. Yeah, I do.

Doctor, I'd like to propose an alternate hypothesis...

...and I'd like you to bring your scientific expertise to bear on it.

To fake a signal from Vega...

...what would you need?

You would need a satellite to transmit the signal, but it would be impossible to...

You'd need a satellite and need launch capabilities to put the satellite into orbit.

And the message itself. To put something like this together... complex, drawing on many disciplines...

Would be impossible. KITZ: Lmpossible?


Is there anyone who might have been up to the challenge?

Someone with extraordinary technical expertise...

...enormous financial resources...

...someone perverse enough, eccentric enough to come up with the idea?


S. R. Hadden.


You're implying that this was all some kind of a hoax?

That he engineered this?

KITZ: S. R. Hadden...

...a legendary power broker and manipulator in perhaps his final bid for immortality.

Maybe he wanted to explore and exploit new technologies...

...and get the governments to pick up the tab.

Perhaps this was his final altruistic gesture... unite the world in some common goal. Maybe all of the above.

S. R. Hadden, a brilliant and complicated man.

Doctor, are you familiar with the scientific precept...

...known as Occam's razor?


It means that all things being equal...

...the simplest explanation tends to be the right one.

KITZ: Exactly.

Now, you tell me. What is more likely here?

That a message from aliens results in a magical machine...

...that whisks you away to the center of the galaxy... go windsurfing with your dad and a split second later...

...returns you home without a single shred of proof?

Or that your experience is the result of being...

...the unwitting star in the farewell performance of one S.R. Hadden?

A man with the means, motive and opportunity to play you and the rest of us... pawns in the biggest, most elaborate, most expensive hoax of all time?

MAN: Dr. Arroway.

You come to us with no evidence, no record... artifacts.

Only a story that, to put it mildly, strains credibility.

Over half a trillion dollars were spent.

Dozens of lives were lost.

Are you really gonna sit there and tell us we should just take this all...

...on faith?

KITZ: Please answer the question, doctor.

Is it possible that it didn't happen?



As a scientist I must concede that. I must volunteer that.

KITZ: Wait a minute, let me get this straight.

You admit you have absolutely no physical evidence to back up your story?


You admit that you very well may have hallucinated this whole thing?

Yes. You admit that if you were in our position... would respond with exactly the same degree of incredulity and skepticism?


Then why don't you simply withdraw your testimony and concede...

...that this journey to the center of the galaxy in fact never took place?

Because I can't.


I had an experience.

I can't prove it. I can't even explain it.

But everything that I know as a human being, everything I am...

...tells me it was real.

I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever.

A vision...

...of the universe...

...that tells us undeniably... tiny and insignificant...

...and how rare and precious we all are.

A vision that tells us that we belong to something...

...that is greater than ourselves, that we are not... That none of us are alone.

I wish I could share that.

I wish...

...that everyone, if even for one moment...

...could feel that awe and humility and hope.


That continues to be my wish.

MAN 1: Dr. Arroway, get a picture, please? Get a photo over here?

WOMAN: Here comes Ellie.

MAN 2: Reverend Joss! Reverend Joss!

MAN 3: Reverend Joss, what do you believe? What do you believe?

As a person of faith, I'm bound by a different covenant than Dr. Arroway.

But our goal is one and the same.

The pursuit of truth.

I, for one, believe her.

So, what happens now? We give her a medal?

I'd say at least a healthy grant.

I assume you read the confidential report from the investigating committee?

KITZ: I flipped through it.

I was especially interested in the section on Arroway's video unit.

The one that recorded the static.


The fact that it recorded static isn't what interests me.


What interests me... that it recorded approximately 18 hours of it.

That is interesting, isn't it?

ELLIE: You can see over there, we're building 45 brand-new dishes.

And that means when you put them together with all the radio telescopes...

...all over the world...

...then we get to hear farther into space than anybody has ever heard before.


Are there other people out there in the universe?

That's a good question. What do you think, huh?

I don't know. That's a good answer.

Skeptic, huh?

The important thing is that you all keep searching for your own answers.

I'll tell you one thing about the universe, though.

The universe is a pretty big place.

It's bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before.

So if it's just us... seems like an awful waste of space.