- Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Written by James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, based on the novel by Carl Sagan.
- So what's more likely? That an all-powerful, mysterious god created the universe, and decided not to give any proof of his existence? Or, that he simply doesn't exist at all, and that we created him, so that we wouldn't have to feel so small and alone?
- What I'm asking is... 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, and at the same time we feel emptier, lonelier, and more cut off from each other than at any other time in human history...
- As a person of faith I'm bound by a different covenant than Doctor Arroway. But our goal is one and the same: the pursuit of Truth. I for one believe her.
- Our job was to select someone to speak for everybody. And I just couldn't in good conscience vote for a person who doesn't believe in God. Someone who honestly thinks the other ninety five percent of us suffer from some form of mass delusion.
- I've had a long time to make enemies, doctor. So many governments, business interests, even religious leaders that would like to see me depart this Earth. I'll grant them their wish soon enough. But before I do, I wish to make a small contribution. A final gesture of good will to the people of this little planet who have given—from whom I have taken—so much.
- Jay Leno: So it turns out there's life on other planets. Boy, this is really going to change the Miss Universe contest, you know what I mean?
- Alien: You're an interesting species, an interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other.
- Young Ellie Arroway: Dad, do you think there's people on other planets?
- Ted Arroway: I don't know, Sparks. But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space.
- [Executives at Hadden Industries seem to be giving Ellie Arroway the runaround]
- Executive: We must confess that your proposal seems less like science and more like science fiction.
- Ellie Arroway: Science fiction. You're right, it's crazy. In fact, it's even worse than that, it's nuts. You wanna hear something really nutty? I heard of a couple guys who wanna build something called an airplane, you know you get people to go in, and fly around like birds, it's ridiculous, right? And what about breaking the sound barrier, or rockets to the moon? Atomic energy, or a mission to Mars? Science fiction, right? Look, all I'm asking is for you to just have the tiniest bit of vision. You know, to just sit back for one minute and look at the big picture. To take a chance on something that just might end up being the most profoundly impactful moment for humanity, for the history... of history.
- Michael Kitz: Your having sent this announcement all over the world may well constitute a breach of national security.
- Ellie Arroway: This isn't a person-to-person call. You can't possibly think that a civilization sending this kind of message would intend it just for Americans.
- Kitz: I'm saying you might have consulted us; obviously, the contents of this message could be extremely sensitive.
- Arroway: You want to classify prime numbers now?
- Palmer Joss: By doing this, you're willing to give your life, you're willing to die for it. Why?
- Ellie Arroway: For as long as I can remember, I've been searching for something, 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 worth a human life. Don't you?
- [US officials are incensed that the extrapolated audio signal is actually a video image from the 1936 Olympics]
- Rachel Constantine: [about Adolf Hitler] Twenty million people died defeating that son of a bitch, and he's our first ambassador to outer space?
- Ellie Arroway: Actually the Hitler broadcast from the...
- David Drumlin: [interrupting] '36 Olympics was the first television transmission of any power that went in to space. That they recorded it, and sent it back, is simply a way of saying "hello, we heard you."
- Michael Kitz: Or, "Sieg Heil, you're our kind of people."
- [As The Machine gets ready for its trial run, Ellie Arroway sees a suspicious man inside the walkway leading to the transport machine, then turns a security camera with a joystick so it faces him.]
- Ellie Arroway: We've got a security problem here!
- Security Official: Are you sure?
- Arroway: Yeah. That man? [points to suspicious man on-screen] I know him! He's not supposed to be there! [puts on a headset with a microphone attached to it; to technician] Get me Drumlin on a secure loop please. [speaking to David Drumlin] David, can you hear me?
- David Drumlin: Yeah, I hear.
- Arroway: We have a security breach.
- Senator: You come to us with no evidence, no record, no artifacts. Only a story that, to put it mildly, strains credibility... Are you really going to sit there and tell us that we should just take this all on faith?
- Ellie Arroway: Is it possible that it didn't happen? Yes... As a scientist I must concede that. I must volunteer that.
- Michael Kitz: [raises voice] Then why don't you simply withdraw your testimony and admit that this journey to the center of the galaxy, IN FACT, NEVER TOOK PLACE!!??
- Arroway: 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 that I am tells me that it was real! I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever... A vision of the universe that tells us, undeniably, how 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! But ... that continues to be my wish.
- Rachel Constantine: I assume you read the confidential findings report from the investigating committee.
- Michael Kitz: I flipped through it.
- Constantine: I was especially interested in the section on Arroway's video unit. The one that recorded the static?
- Kitz: Continue.
- Constantine: The fact that it recorded static isn't what interests me.
- Kitz: [pauses] Continue...
- Constantine: What interests me is that it recorded approximately 18 hours of it.
- Kitz: That is interesting, isn't it?
- A message from deep space. Who will be the first to go? A journey to the heart of the universe.
- If it's just us, it seems like an awful waste of space.
- Get ready for humans' biggest discovery ever!
- Jodie Foster - Eleanor Arroway
- Matthew McConaughey - Palmer Joss
- John Hurt - S.R. Hadden
- Tom Skerritt - David Drumlin
- Jena Malone - Young Ellie
- David Morse - Ted Arroway
- William Fichtner - Kent
- James Woods - Michael Kitz
- Angela Bassett - Rachel Constantine
- Rob Lowe - Richard Rank