Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

Opening Titles Sequence: Contact

Contact

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.

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21 Responses to “Opening Titles Sequence: Contact”

  1. filmhipster

    This is a great scene, one of the most memorable parts of the film for me. I was a little disappointed with the ending but I’ll save that discussion for tomorrow. 😉

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  2. Cavershamragu

    Subsequently spoofed in the MEN IN BLACK FILMS. Look forward to reading your full review as this is a film that I have become less fond of with the passage of time, for all its undoubted technical brilliance.

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    • le0pard13

      Now that you mention it, I seem recall that scene. I’m interested to hear your thoughts, Sergio. Many thanks :-).

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  3. NeveR

    I love this film – but I too was a little let down by the ending . I wonder if it was for the same reason as Terry Malloy?

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    • le0pard13

      Hope you come back tomorrow so we can discuss it further, Neve. I’m really interested to hear. Thank you :-).

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  4. Rachel

    I was so hoping you would do one of these for Contact as I love this opening sequence. Brilliant introduction to the film. Looking forward to tomorrow’s discussion.

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    • le0pard13

      It really is one great sequence to start a film with. Zemeckis firing on all cylinders with his introductions. Talk to you soon and thanks, Rachel.

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  5. Mark Walker

    Absolutely marvellous opening Michael. I used to watch this on a regular basis and it never ceased to blow my mind. It’s one of my very favourite opening scenes to any film.

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  6. ruth

    Oooh I’ve been wanting to see this one for ages, in fact we almost rented it a few weeks ago. I love these Opening Titles posts Michael, and this is another great one!

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  7. Paula

    Aha, that’s where I’ve seen this before! I saw EAMES: THE ARCHITECT AND THE PAINTER last year, and I was like POWERS OF TEN looks really familiar. I’d seen that, but not for years. Thank you for helping me make the connection.

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  8. mummbles

    I saw this when it came out in the theaters but I do not remember must about it. That opening was pretty amazing! I think it is time for a more mature me to see this movie again.

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    • le0pard13

      Yes, please give it another go, mummbles. I think I’ve appreciated more through the years because of multiple viewings. Many thanks, my friend.

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