In preview to tomorrow’s duo post film review, I thought it warranted an appreciation of Robert Zemeckis’ simple yet spectacular introduction to his film Contact. It’s also noteworthy for being a title sequence that featured a near minimum of captions. Plus, this had to be, by visual and virtual representation alone, the greatest pull back shot, distance-wise, in cinema history. I kid you not.
Loosely inspired via the short documentary film The Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, Zemeckis re-worked the concept into his 1997 film to give the audience not only a visual/audio story preview of radio waves traveling outward and through time, but of the sheer scale regarding the cosmos we live within. Showing the audience the vast distances an electromagnetic wave journeying at the speed of light could cover, and beyond.
After its simple white on black ‘Contact’ title card appeared, the sequence immediately jumped into orbit over the noise-riddled planet we live upon. Seeming large and sizable per our perspective, fixed upon the night side of Earth turning its way into a new dawn, it showcased our pinpoint presence and broadcasts going full-bore. It’s when the Sun crested the horizon, the longest continuous computer-generated pull back got going.
In doing so, the television and radio broadcasts embarked back in time. This marked by the celestial bodies, as far as one could see or tell, leapfrogging points in our discernible history, themselves having flashed passed in the trek ever outward. This introduction a thing of spatial beauty eventually spawning breathtaking silence — a long track back progression from our home to the edge of the known Universe. One hell of a zoom out that would fall back on itself as it finished the journey and into the wonder in a young girl’s eye.