What is 'Contact' about?
Fascinated by science, astronomy, and making radio contact to people far away since she was a young girl, Doctor Eleanor 'Ellie' Arroway (Jodie Foster) works as a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researcher at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. When her National Science Foundation (NSF) funding is pulled from her by her boss David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt), she obtains private funding from secretive billionaire industrialist S. R. Hadden (John Hurt) and moves to the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico. Just when it looks like her access to the VLA's radio telescopes is going to be cut, Ellie receives a transmission of prime numbers emanating from the star Vega. When the transmission is confirmed by other scientists around the world, Ellie becomes involved in making humanity's first contact with extra-terrestrial life.
Vega, about 25 light years away from the earth, is the principle star in the constellation Lyra, visible overhead in the northern hemisphere from spring through autumn. In temperate latitudes, it is visible during the summer months. In the southern hemisphere, it is visible low in the northern sky during the winter months.
Is 'Contact' based on a book?
Yes. The movie is based on Contact, a 1985 novel by American astronomer Carl Sagan [1934-1996]. Sagan actually conceived of the idea for Contact in 1979 and, along with his wife Ann Druyan, wrote a 100+ page film treatment. When the project got stuck in development hell, Sagan published Contact as a novel. The novel was eventually adapted for the movie by American screenwriters James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg.