“Robert Zemekis’ Contact as a Late Twentieth-Century Paradiso.”

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Religion and Film


theology, Dante, Paradiso, film studies, religion, science, cosmology


The film Contact employs a plot and literary motifs that are in many ways parallel to those in Dante's Paradiso. Although the film's philosophical and theological content has received mixed reviews, the film has deep significance because it not only seeks to convey a religious experience but also offers a kind of existential consolation similar to that offered by Dante. This is true even though the film is grounded in a vision of the numinous that is congruent not with the Dante's cosmos but with late twentieth-century science and cosmology. Contact, then, is a Dantean film that can be embraced both intellectually and spiritually by large numbers of its audience, and its success demonstrates that basic elements of Dante's Paradiso still have the power to move audiences in contemporary America.

Original Published Citation

Sadlek, Gregory M. “Robert Zemekis’ Contact as a Late Twentieth-Century Paradiso.” Journal of Religion and Film 5.2 (2001). 1 November 2001.