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Contact (1997) movie script

by Menno Meyjes, Ann Druyan & Carl Sagan, Michael Goldenberg, Jim V. Hart.
Rewrite by Michael Goldenberg.
Based on the Novel by Carl Sagan.
September 8, 1995.

More info about this movie on IMDb.com
UNIVERSE - EIGHT BILLION LIGHT YEARS FROM EARTH

The cosmos on the grandest scale we know.  Clusters of
galaxies strewn like sea froth; whorls and smudges of
light representing hundreds of billions of stars each.

MILKY WAY GALAXY

A view from the edge.  We DRIFT ABOVE the majestic,
spiraling disk, tens of thousands of light years across.

RING NEBULA (M57) - CONSTELLATION LYRA

A local group of stars, the brightest of which is a point
of hot, blue-white light...

VEGA

Rings of glowing gas and debris surround the giant, blue-
white star... and then we notice something ahead of us in
polar orbit.

CLOSER

An immense, world-sized construct gleams in Vega's blue
light.  Far too big to be artificial, by human standards
-- but this wasn't built to human standards.

Bowl-shaped transmitters cover the quicksilver gel-like
surface of the polyhedron, forming then vanishing again.
We DESCEND INTO one vast bowl as it deepens --

-- then silently convulses.  A lost chord.  We SWING
AROUND, assuming a breathtaking, MOVING POV --

A message begins its journey.

								    DISSOLVE TO:

SUBTERRANEAN DARKNESS

Shadows appear, dark and murky.  Slowly we become aware of
a MUFFLED, PULSING sound; like a DISTANT, BOOMING
HEARTBEAT.

Suddenly a bright light unzips the amniotic darkness; two
great hands reach in to assist what we now realize is a
Caesarean birth.

ELLIE ARROWAY

age five seconds, opens her eyes wide.  In the b.g., we
can see a nurse methodically giving CPR to the unseen
mother; the decor beyond tells us we are in a small-town
doctor's office.  The DOCTOR holds Ellie as he calls
softly to the nurse.

					DOCTOR
		You can call it, Nan.  Mark time of
		birth as... 12:04 A.M.
			   (looking down at the
			    baby)
		Happy New Year, little lady.
			   (to the nurse)
		Tell Ted he has a girl.

TED ARROWAY stands watching through the window in the
office door.  Numb.

BABY'S TINY HAND

clasps its mother's finger.

								    CUT TO:

WIDE TABLEAU

Ted, holding his newborn daughter, sitting quietly next to
the bed where his sheet-covered wife still lies.

EXT.  MAIN STREET (NEHALEM, OREGON) - DAWN

Ted, carefully holding little Ellie, walks down the empty
street, his FOOTSTEPS ECHOING...

DEEP SPACE - MESSAGE

rockets through a black dust cloud where young stars are
just beginning to glow.  An icy worldlet evaporates,
releasing gasses which blow away in spectral bursts of
iridescent color...

SURFACE OF ALIEN WORLD

We are MOVING OVER an exotic, technological landscape;
strange ALIEN SQUELCHES and SQUEALS become audible --

-- and then a child's hand reaches in and twists a giant
dial on what we now see is an old shortwave RADIO.

					ELLIE (V.O.)
		CQ CQ WR2 GFO... WR2 GFO, come back.

INT.  ARROWAY HOUSE - NIGHT

SIX-YEAR OLD ELLIE leans in towards a large microphone.

					ELLIE
		CQ WR2 GFO, do you copy?
			   (calls)
		I'm not getting anything.

Ted joins his daughter at the workbench where she sits in
front of the short-wave, her feet dangling from the stool.
He puts his hands on her shoulders.

					TED
		Small moves, Captain, small moves.

					ELLIE
		I can't move any smaller.

					TED
		Try again between the static and
		'Hey Jude'; that's where they're
		hiding.

Ellie bites her lip, tries again.  Her little hand slowly
turns the dial -- suddenly --

					RADIO VOICE (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		Copy... WRS GFO...
			   (off STATIC)
		W2P KLD talking... what's your
		handle, WR2 GFO?

					ELLIE
		What do I do?

					TED
		Talk to him.

					ELLIE
		But what do I say?

					TED
		Just be yourself, Captain.  Find out
		where he is.

Ellie tentatively reaches out and grasps the microphone.

					ELLIE
		Where are you calling from, W2P KLD,
		come back.

					RADIO VOICE (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		Pensacola, over.

					ELLIE
		Pensacola -- !
			   (beat)
		Where's Pensacola?

					TED
		Give you a hint:  orange juice.

MAP OF WORLD

above the work area is dotted with colored pins; Ellie's
finger traces the Gulf of Mexico, stopping at Pensacola.

Ellie, breathless with wonder.  Contact.

EXT.  ARROWAY BEDROOM - NIGHT

The house in the woods dwarfed under the immense dome of
night.

INT.  ELLIE'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Now in her pajamas, Ellie sits hunched over in bed,
working intently on her latest masterpiece.  A crayon
behind her ear.

					ELLIE
		Could we hear to China?

					TED
		On that old shortwave?  Maybe on a
		clear night.  Come on now, under the
		covers.

					ELLIE
		Could we hear to the moon?

					TED
		Big enough radio, I don't see why
		not.

					ELLIE
		Could we hear God?

					TED
		Mmm, that's a good one.  Maybe his
		echo...
			   (then)
		Okay, no more stalling.

					ELLIE
			   (coloring frantically)
		Okay, okay... there.

She hands Ted the drawing.  As he holds it up to the lamp
we see it shows an idealized beach, palm trees.  It glows
in the light.

					ELLIE
		Pensacola.

					TED
		That's a beauty, Captain.
			   (kisses her on the
			    forehead)
		Now get some sleep.

He carefully pins the drawing on the wall, turns out the
light.  As he starts out she says softly --

					ELLIE
		Do you think there're people on
		other planets?

Ted pauses, smiles at his daughter's inexhaustible
curiosity.  He returns, sits on the edge of her bed, now
lit by starlight.

					TED
		Well let's see... the Universe is a
		pretty big place... And the one
		thing I know about nature is it
		hates to waste anything.  So I guess
		I'd say if it is just us, an awful
		lot of space is going to waste.

He tenderly brushes a stray lock of her hair behind her
ear.

					TED
		Time to sleep now, Captain.  But you
		can ask more questions in the
		morning, okay?

					ELLIE
			   (sighs)
		Okay.

He kisses her again, rises, goes to leave, stopping at the
door to watch her.  Ellie looks out the window at the
stars...

DEEP SPACE - MESSAGE

A comet blows by.  We chase it, riding its luminous tail
of evaporating ice...

TED'S CALLUSED HAND

careful as a safecracker, slowly TURNS the DIAL on an
ancient A.M. RADIO -- finally landing on an old HANK
WILLIAMS TUNE.

INT.  TED'S TRUCK - MOVING - DAY

Ted sits up, smiles in satisfaction.

EXT.  TRUCK - DAY

The old red Ford trundles through the pines along a
mountain road.

INT.  ARROWAY KITCHEN - DAY

NINE-YEAR OLD ELLIE throws her schoolbooks on the table
and goes to the refrigerator.  As she starts to take out
items we see her hand-drawn chart taped to the side of the
fridge; Mondays and Thursdays say "Ellie Cooks!"

EXT.  MOUNTAINS - DAY

A fawn is feeding.  CUT WIDE to reveal it standing in the
middle of an empty road, nibbling at the grass growing out
of the old blacktop.  The TWITTER of a BIRD; the wind in
the trees... and then, far in the distance, we hear an
ENGINE STRAINING.

LOGGING TRUCK

heads up the mountain road, its driver humming along to
the same HANK WILLIAMS TUNE.

INT.  ARROWAY KITCHEN - DAY

A stew of some sort bubbles on the stove.  Ellie hums as
she experiments with every spice on the rack.

SERIES OF SHOTS

A)  Ted sings to the RADIO as he eases off the gas to
    take a bend in the road --

B)  The fawn continues to graze, oblivious.  We can now
    hear the RADIO in the DISTANCE.

C)  Ted look up as he rounds the bend -- sees the deer --

D)  The logging TRUCK ROARS around a blind curve --

E)  Ted swerves onto the wrong side of the road, misses
    the deer, sighs in relief --

F)  The truck driver looks up, sees the Ford coming at
    him, Ted still looking over his shoulder at --

FAWN

who suddenly looks up at the O.S. sound of a HORRIBLE
CRASH --

-- then bounds off into the woods.

INT.  ARROWAY KITCHEN - DUSK

The table is set.  A stubby candle and some wildflowers in
a peanut-butter jar.

Ellie sits at her place, frowning.  She glances up at the
wall clock -- and then slowly stands as she sees something
else THROUGH the kitchen window:

A sheriffs' car is pulling up, lights going, siren silent.
The sheriff looks up -- their eyes meet -- PUSH IN ON
Ellie --

								    CUT TO:

EXT.  COUNTRYSIDE - NIGHT

Little cones of light illuminate the darkness as NEIGHBORS
search with their flashlights, calling:

					NEIGHBORS
		Ellie... Ellie...?

EXT.  ARROWAY HOUSE - NIGHT

The sheriff stands in front of the house, shaking his head
as he talks to a MINISTER.  VOICES continue to CALL.

We start to CRANE UP, HIGHER and HIGHER until we clear the
house -- REVEALING Ellie lying on the roof, staring up at
the stars.  Her fingers grip the shingles...

EXT.  COUNTRY CEMETERY - DAY

The Minister kneels next to Ellie, watching her knead
another piece of bread into a ball before tossing it into
a small fish pond.  In the b.g. we see the sheriff and
several relatives watching.

					MINISTER
		I'm so sorry, Ellie.  More than I
		can ever say.

Ellie keeps watching the pond.  The clouds overhead are
reflected in the patches of water between the lily pads.

					ELLIE
		Those lily pads must look like
		clouds to that carp, don't you
		think?

The Minister frowns.  Gently:

					MINISTER
		Ellie... this life doesn't last
		forever.  Some day you and your Dad
		are going to be together again, in
		heaven.

					ELLIE
			   (turns to him;
			    equally gentle)
		He isn't in heaven; he's in the
		ground.  We just put him there,
		remember?

OFF the astonished Minister --

INT.  ARROWAY HOUSE - NIGHT

Relatives, townspeople, the Minister and sheriff mingle
quietly.  The kitchen table and counters are covered with
a sea of casseroles.

Ellie watches the gathered from a doorway, then slips
away.

INT.  ARROWAY HOUSE - WORKSHOP AREA - NIGHT

Ellie slowly approaches the darkened bench area where the
SHORTWAVE is set up; the pin-dotted map above it.  She
TURNS it ON; the dial glows.

She reaches out for the microphone, holding it tightly in
both hands.  Pushes the button.

					ELLIE
		CQ WR2, this is GFO, do you copy?
			   (looking up)
		Dad, this is Ellie, come back.

EXT.  HOUSE - HIGH ANGLE - NIGHT

Tiny Ellie is visible THROUGH the window, and as we begin
to PULL UP and AWAY her emotion-choked voice continues,
small and faraway...

					ELLIE (V.O.)
		This is Eleanor Arroway broadcasting
		on 9.2 megahertz.  Dad, are you
		there?  Come back.  Come back.  Come
		back...

								    CUT TO:

DEEP SPACE - MESSAGE

-- rockets through the Rosette Nebula, a vast cloud of
glowing red hydrogen illuminated by young hot stars a
hundred times brighter than the sun.  Their solar wind is
blowing out an immense cavity in the interstellar gas and
dust.

PALM LEAF

lies on the streetlamp-lit sidewalk.

We hear the sound of a BUS PULLING UP, its door opening.
After a moment a pair of sneakered feet tentatively step
INTO FRAME.  A suitcase is set down next to them as we
hear the BUS WHEEZE OFF into the night.  A hand reaches
down, picks up the palm leaf.

22-YEAR-OLD ELLIE examines it, then looks up in
apprehension at the old prewar Spanish structure of Cal
Tech.

INT.  CAMPUS BUILDING - CORRIDOR - NIGHT

Ellie's FOOTSTEPS ECHO as she walks down a corridor, its
walls hung with portraits of Galileo, Copernicus, Hubble.
She pauses at a photograph of Einstein standing outside
the entrance we just saw.  Sound up cut:  THE RAMONES' "I
Wanna Be Sedated" --

INT.  DORM CORRIDOR - NIGHT

An altogether different sort of hallway, reflecting the
imagination and individuality of its occupants.  The walls
are covered with whimsical graffiti ("anthropocentrism is
a 17 letter word;"  "WATCH FOR FLYING POTATOES") and 3
A.M. paintings of alien sunsets; the MUSIC is coming from
behind a door covered in Tolkien and comic book art.

As Ellie enters this strange new world she begins to hear
animated voices coming from a room at the end of the hall.

					VOICE #1 (V.O.)
		... radio luminosity?

					VOICE #2 (V.O.)
		I dunno, maybe a post-spectral
		starburst or something.

					EVERYBODY (V.O.)
		Right, right --

					VOICE #3 (V.O.)
		E+A is an elliptical?  How can you
		tell it's being lensed?  Pass me the
		Fruity Pebbles.

					VOICE #4 (V.O.)
		Well I guess you'd have to check
		other elliptical galaxies, Mr.
		Wizard --

INT.  DORM ROOM - NIGHT

As Ellie peers around the corner we see six or seven
STUDENTS, mostly male, of mixed nationality and race,
passing around cereal which they eat from the box.  A
primitive (circa 1980) home-built personal computer glows
in the b.g.; a door opens onto a terrace and the
California night beyond.  They stop, look up at Ellie --

					ELLIE
		I -- uh --
			   (clears her throat)
		I was looking for Koestler Hall?

					GUY (STUDENT)
		This is it.  Hey, do you know the
		average radio-luminosity of an E+A
		elliptical galaxy?

					ELLIE
		Um... I'm not sure.
			   (hesitates)
		Maybe you could deduce it from
		lensing a post-spectral
		starburst...?

					GUY
			   (beat, then to his
			    friend)
		See, I told you!
			   (to Ellie)
		Want some Fruity Pebbles?
		Carcinogenic, but totally worth it.

Ellie takes the box, and as she tentatively enters the
room -- nibbles on the cereal -- she slowly sits.  Smiles.
The argument rages on.  She's home.

DEEP SPACE - MESSAGE

We ROAR by a rapidly rotating, flashing pulsar.  Cosmic
dust filters the light into the shifting spectrum of
colors...

EXT.  MOJAVE DESERT - DAY

DAVID DRUMLIN, 42, fit, sardonic -- and the world's
foremost radio astronomer -- leads a group of grad
students past the first Jet Propulsion Lab radio
telescopes at Goldstone.  Ellie lags behind talking to
PETER VALERIAN, who is about as good-looking as an
astronomer should be allowed to be.

					ELLIE
		... Drumlin said you're been down at
		Arecibo for the last year.

					PETER
		It's beautiful but it does get a
		little lonely.  Sometimes I think
		the reason we build these things in
		such godforsaken places isn't to
		avoid excess radio traffic but
		because we're all such pathetic
		antisocial misfits... Speaking of
		which:  How're you getting on with
		the old man?

					ELLIE
		He's an incredible prick but I never
		learned so much in my life.

					PETER
			   (smiles)
		That's what they all say.

In the b.g. we can see the majestic twin dishes tilted up
toward the hard blue sky.  An awkward moment, which Ellie
fills by extending her hand.

					ELLIE
		Ellie.  Arroway.

					PETER
		Peter Valerian.

					ELLIE
		Sounds like a Russian general.

					PETER
		Yavol.

					DRUMLIN
			   (calling back)
		You're out of shape, Valerian.
		What's the matter, eat too many
		tacos down there in Puerto Rico?

He pronounces it "tackos" in his distinctive Montana
twang.

					ELLIE
		I read your paper on ETI's.  It's
		brilliant.

					PETER
			   (embarrassed but
			    pleased)
		Keep it down, okay?  Drumlin thinks
		I'm enough of a flake as it is.
			   (then)
		Look -- everyone here has their
		little fetishes.  Caven goes to
		topless bars, Vernon's got his
		carnivorous plants... mine just
		happens to be extraterrestrial
		intelligence.

					ELLIE
		What a coincidence.  It happens to
		be my fetish too.

A brief but electric moment between them.  They both feel
it.  Drumlin calls back from the head of the group:

					DRUMLIN
		You two coming along or you just
		gonna do it right here in the sand?

The other students laugh good-naturedly.  Ellie and Peter,
rather than being embarrassed, seem to be considering the
idea.

EXT.  MOJAVE CLIFFS - LATE AFTERNOON

A dusky orange sun hangs over the mountains, the Goldstone
telescopes visible in the distance.  Ellie and Peter walk
along a windswept cliff overlooking a vast desert lake.

					ELLIE
		... I'm just so sick of feeling
		defensive about the things I care
		about!  Or being lumped in with the
		lunatic fringe by people like
		Drumlin, when if they'd just put
		aside their preconceptions for two
		seconds and look at the facts...

					PETER
		They can't.  I think it's against
		human nature to admit to that level
		of... insignificance; to not see
		yourself as basically the center of
		the universe.

					ELLIE
		It's like the pre-Copernicans who
		swore the sun revolved around the
		Earth, or the Victorians at the end
		of the last century who concluded
		that all major discoveries had now
		been made.  I mean... try to imagine
		civilization a thousand years ahead
		of us -- then imagine trying to
		explain... I dunno, a microwave oven
		-- to someone even a hundred years
		ago -- I mean the basic concepts
		didn't exist...

					PETER
			   (murmurs)
		'Any sufficiently advanced
		technology...'

					ELLIE
			   (finishing it with
			    him)
		'... is indistinguishable from
		magic.'

A moment... and then Peter takes her hand like it's the
most natural thing in the world.

					PETER
		I dunno.  I know I should be
		objective, ice-cold hard-assed
		scientific about it, but just on an
		intuitive level -- what's the point
		of a universe so vast if we're the
		only ones it it?  It'd just be such
		a... waste of space.

Ellie stops, looks at him -- and then slowly, carefully
leans in and kisses him.  A pleasantly awkward beat.

					ELLIE
		Sorry.

Peter laughs.

EXT.  DESERT - NIGHT

A million stares blaze overhead as Peter and Ellie make
love on an Indian blanket in the middle of the desert.
Ellie looks searchingly up into Peter's face... and then
her gaze drifts upwards to the canopy above...

SQUIRREL

gnaws on a beechnut as two enormous pair of feet walk by.

					ELLIE (V.O.)
		-- but I've already submitted my
		proposal!

EXT.  CAL TECH CAMPUS - DAY

Ellie and Drumlin walk briskly, in heated discussion.

					DRUMLIN
		I'm sorry, Miss Arroway, not only is
		it too Speculative a subject for a
		doctoral dissertation, at this point
		in your career it'd be tantamount to
		suicide.

					ELLIE
		I'm willing to take that risk.

					DRUMLIN
		I'm not.  You're far too promising a
		scientist to waste your considerable
		gifts on this nonsense --

					ELLIE
		Dr. Drumlin, we are talking about
		what could potentially be the most
		important discovery in the history
		of humanity.  There are over four
		hundred billion stars out there --

					DRUMLIN
		And only two probabilities:  One:
		there is intelligent life in the
		universe but they're so far away
		you'll never contact it in your
		lifetime --

					ELLIE
		You're --

					DRUMLIN
		Two:  There's nothing out there but
		noble gasses and carbon compounds
		and you'd be wasting your time.

					ELLIE
		What if you're wrong?
			   (as he starts to
			    speak)
		No -- I'll grant you probabilities
		but as a scientist without all the
		evidence -- you can't deny the
		possibility -- and I believe even
		the remotest possibility of
		something this profoundly...
		profound is worth investigation --
		and worth taking a few risks.

					DRUMLIN
		I disagree.

					ELLIE
		Then disagree but don't stand in my
		way!

By this point they've gathered a small crowd.  Drumlin
regards her for for a moment; then, softly:

					DRUMLIN
		What is it that makes you so lonely,
		Miss Arroway?  What is it that
		compels you to search the heavens
		for life when there's so much of it
		being neglected right here at home?

Body blow.  Ellie just stares, stunned.  Finally:

					DRUMLIN
		I will approve a general thesis on
		the detection of radio signals from
		space but that's all.  No E.T.I.s.
		Enough?

Flushed, overwhelmed... Ellie nods.  Enough.

DEEP SPACE - MESSAGE

Approaching a backwater area of the galaxy.  A small,
unspectacular yellow star comes INTO VIEW.

PAIR OF HEADLIGHTS

cuts through the night.  A Jeep negotiates an overgrown
mountain road.

EXT.  ARECIBO, PUERTO RICO - AERIAL SHOT - PRE-DAWN

The two tiny beams from high above as we DESCEND OVER a
mountainous jungle range, a hot-house of life that drops
away to reveal an enormous white thousand-foot radio
telescope, cradled in the natural bowl of the mountain
valley.

SUPERIMPOSE:  ARECIBO, PUERTO RICO - 1992

EXT.  ARECIBO - DAWN

The mud-spattered Jeep pulls up in front of the living
quarters of the primitive installation.  Peter Valerian
climbs out, looks up at the crude facilities in dismay.

ELLIE

lies asleep in bed.  Peter sits quietly next to her,
gently touches her face.  Her eyes slowly open.  She
smiles.

SAME - FEW MINUTES LATER

Ellie is in the shower.  Peter looks around her quarters;
peeling paint, a few steps down from your average dorm
room.

					ELLIE (O.S.)
			   (calls from the
			    shower)
		... I keep telling myself okay,
		that's just the price, you have to
		do your time doing shitwork before
		you're allowed to get to the good
		stuff... but if I have to catalog
		one more quasar...
			   (sticks her head
			    out)
		God, I've missed you.

					PETER
		Any luck on the grant money?

					ELLIE
		Please.  Any chance of that died the
		day David Drumlin was appointed head
		of the N.S.F.  I have been in
		contact with a few other SETI
		people; we've been trying to find
		backing from private investors.
		I've even managed to scrounge a
		couple of hours of telescope time
		here and there...

					PETER
		And?

					ELLIE
		I've examined over forty stars of
		roughly solar spectral type but so
		far nothing.  Still, we've barely
		started...

Peter is silent.

EXT.  MT.  ARECIBO (PUERTO RICO) - DAY

Ellie and Peter walk along the periphery of the vast
concave dish.  A gentle breeze blows.

					ELLIE
		... We've been going after some of
		the big multi-nationals but without
		much luck; got a donation from a New
		York dowager... We've even been
		thinking about selling T-shirts.

					PETER
		Ellie... even if you do manage to
		raise the money, have you thought
		about what it would really mean to
		follow through on this?  I mean a
		college fetish is one thing, but
		we're talking about your career.
		You won't be publishing.  You won't
		be taken seriously... and you could
		spend your entire life looking and
		never find anything at all.

Ellie pauses; looks out at the endless ocean of green.
Quietly:

					ELLIE
		If we lived at any previous time in
		human history we wouldn't even have
		the option of failing -- we'd have
		to wonder our whole lives, unable to
		do anything about it.  This time,
		right now, is unique in our history,
		in any civilization's history -- the
		moment of the acquisition of
		technology.  The moment when contact
		becomes possible.  We've already
		beaten incredible odds by being
		lucky enough to be alive now.

					PETER
			   (pausing)
		How close are you to getting this
		funding put together?

					ELLIE
		It's almost there.  The hardest part
		is getting someone to sell us the
		telescope time.

					PETER
		What if I said I could get Drumlin
		to agree to sell you time in New
		Mexico?

					ELLIE
			   (stunned)
		The V.L.A.?

					PETER
		Thirty-one linked dishes.  You could
		search more sky there in a day than
		you could in a year here.

					ELLIE
		Peter -- if you can get him to do
		that for me he'd obviously do the
		same for you -- we could -- !

					PETER
		Actually --

					ELLIE
		We could be together again --

					PETER
		-- I'm moving to Washington.

					ELLIE
			   (confused)
		Greenbank?

					PETER
		I'm going on staff at the N.S.F.  To
		work for Drumlin.

					ELLIE
		But what about your research -- ?

					PETER
		This is a chance to be of enormous
		help to other people's research --
		to have the power to be a real
		advocate where David's got blind
		spots --

					ELLIE
		But the work --

					PETER
		'The work,' Jesus, Ellie, can't
		there just once be more to life than
		the work?  Okay, maybe that's the
		only way to get the recognition, win
		the prizes --

					ELLIE
		Please, you're just as ambitious as
		I am, more --

					PETER
		Maybe that's the problem.  I want...
		a family, Ellie.  I want kids.  A
		townhouse on L street instead of
		still living like a college kid.  A
		real life.  Maybe that makes me a
		sellout but I don't care anymore.
		It's what I want.

					ELLIE
		And you think I don't want those
		things?  You think I don't stay up
		half the night wondering if I've
		made the right choice living half a
		world away from you, wondering if
		any of this is worth what I'm giving
		up for it everyday?
			   (as Peter is silent;
			    suddenly)
		Let's get married.

					PETER
		Jesus --

					ELLIE
		Right now -- we'll drive down to
		Ramey and get the base chaplain to
		marry us.

					PETER
		Ellie --

					ELLIE
		I'm serious about this, Peter --

					PETER
		Ellie -- I'm getting married.
			   (off a stunned
			    silence)
		Her name's Laura.  She came up to
		Owens Valley to do her post-doc
		about six months after you left.

					ELLIE
			   (stares)
		You sonofabitch.

					PETER
		That is true.  But it's also true
		that if I really thought we wanted
		the same things, I'd follow you
		anywhere... but the truth is I don't
		think you want the company.
			   (softly)
		Be honest, El.  There's nowhere
		you'd rather be than sitting out at
		some remote corner of the world
		searching for the answers to the
		mysteries of the universe.  And call
		me crazy, but I just can't compete
		with that... I'm sorry.

There's nothing left to say.  He rises, starts to make his
way down.  OFF Ellie, stunned --

DEEP SPACE - MESSAGE

The yellow star is now definitely brighter than the rest.

EXT.  NEW MEXICO DESERT - AERIAL SHOT - NIGHT

A 1967 T-Bird travels swiftly along a dirt road through
the moonlit desert.  The VIEW CLIMBS, WIDENS to include a
huge radio telescope, and as we come around we see an even
more stunning sight:  30 more of them.

SUPERIMPOSE:  SAPPORO, NEW MEXICO - 1993

EXT.  VLA MAIN BUILDING - NIGHT

The T-Bird pulls up in front of a bland, institutional
building.  Ellie climbs out, stretches, then pulls a
single small suitcase from the back seat.

INT.  CAFETERIA/LOUNGE - NIGHT

Over an ancient Mr. Coffee machine some hysteric has
scribbled:  "Someone has been drinking the coffee without
leaving the .10c in the cup and WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE."
Ellie drops her dime in.  As she pours she hears a strange
sound:  a steady repetitive SSSHHH... SSSHHH... She
follows the noise down the hall.

INT.  CONTROL ROOM - NIGHT

The lights are off; the large room is illuminated solely
by the night sky and glowing banks of electronic
equipment.  Through the large panorama window we can see
the silhouettes of the enormous radio telescopes in the
moonlight.  We make out a shape sitting in the darkness
listening to the sounds, louder now:  SSSHHH... SSSHHH...
And then a voice calls out:

					VOICE (O.S.)
		Light's behind you, to the left.

Ellie finds the switch, flips on the lights, revealing
KENT CULLERS, 30's, wearing Raybans.

					ELLIE
		Dr. Cullers?

					KENT
		Kent, Kent for Chrissakes.  You must
		be Eleanor.

					ELLIE
			   (moving to the
			    control panel)
		Ellie.  Pulsar?

					KENT
		1919+21.  Found a glitch in the
		timing; probably a starquake.

					ELLIE
		Nice.  Where?

Kent types in a few commands and the computer screen
lights up.  It reads "Radio Sky" and it looks nothing like
the ordinary optical sky; more like an elaborate oriental
rug.  Pointing:

					KENT
		Here, right around Centaurus A.

					ELLIE
		This is how you see the sky?

					KENT
		It's how I hear it.  The display's
		just a little something I programmed
		for astronomers with the misfortune
		of sight.

					ELLIE
		It's beautiful.

					KENT
		Never seen the optical sky myself,
		but I hear it's nice too.

					MILLINGTON (O.S.)
		Yo, Ray Charles, time's up.  Oh --
		sorry --

					KENT
		Doctors Millington, Curtain, Dr.
		Arroway.

Ellie raises a hand in greeting to the two men in the
doorway, they wave awkwardly back.

					KENT
		Rick's doing black holes at the
		center of galaxies; Tom's studying
		globular clusters in the e-band.
			   (to the guys)
		And Dr. Arroway here will be
		spending her precious time listening
		for little green men.  All yours,
		guys.

As he rises MILLINGTON and CURTAIN move to take his place
at the controls.  They maneuver shyly around Ellie.

					ELLIE
		Um... should I...

					MILLINGTON/CURTAIN
			   (way too fast)
		No, no, no -- have a seat.

Kent smiles, exits.  Ellie sits, looks over the control
console, rubs her hands...

								    DISSOLVE TO:

INT.  VLA CONTROL ROOM - DAY

In the daylight we see the sad truth of the place:  a
character-free cinderblock box filled with a mishmash of
equipment, aging and jerry-rigged alongside the spoils
of the odd successful grant application.  Through a wall
of windows we can see the cafeteria/lounge area; an
ancient Ping-Pong table.

					ELLIE (O.S.)
		Hey, Fish, has that pointing error
		in twenty-nine been fixed yet?

					FISHER
		It's a worm gear; still a little
		sluggish but it'll have to do.

Ellie again sits at the main console, but time has clearly
dissipated some of her initial enthusiasm.  She frowns as
she peers at the telescope THROUGH the windows...

					ELLIE
		J39 Z186...?

					WILLIE
		Been there, done that, got the
		T-shirt.

					ELLIE
		VB10's an M dwarf; Signa Draconis...
		too old.

					KENT
			   (at the coffee
			    machine)
		You've only searched -- what is it,
		sixteen hundred stars without a
		peep?  Try not to take it too
		personally.

					ELLIE
		Thank you, Mr. Sensitive.
			   (frowns)
		I'm coming at this wrong... missing
		something... something...

								    DISSOLVE TO:

PAIR OF HANDS

pick up a think coil of cable.

DUSTY PAIR OF SNEAKERS

trek through the moonlit scrub desert, trailing cable
behind them...

EXT.  DESERT - NIGHT

Ellie sits cross-legged on the hard earth, hunched over
with her fingers barely touching the pair of headphones
she wears.  We hear the faint arhythmic pulsing of
STATIC... Ellie's eyes are closed; she leans forward, an
expression of peculiar intensity on her face...

								    CUT TO:

EXT.  DESERT - WIDE

Ellie's tiny hunched-over figure is sitting about a
thousand yards away from the main building, rocking slowly
back and forth under the vast desert sky, back and
forth,listening...

								    DISSOLVE TO:

EXT.  NEW MEXICO DESERT - AERIAL SHOT - DAY

A government sedan travels the dusty road to the VLA.

EXT.  VLA MAIN BUILDING - LATER AFTERNOON

The sedan pulls up.  WILLIE climbs out of the driver's
side and comes around to get the bags as David Drumlin
emerges, formidable and patrician as ever.  Kent, Fisher,
Millington, Curtain and a number of other scientists are
there to greet him.

					DRUMLIN
			   (hand at his back)
		Now I remember why I went into
		theoretical work.  Kent.

					KENT
		Glad to have you, David.  How's the
		new office?

					DRUMLIN
		Still settling in, really.
			   (looking over the
			    group)
		Where's Dr. Arroway?

INT.  VLA CONTROL ROOM - AFTERNOON

Kent and Fisher lead Drumlin through the complex; his
conservative suit out of place among the jeans and
T-shirts; other scientists either smile obsequiously or
avert their gaze.

					FISHER
		... not that there's a whole lot in
		the way of entertainment around here
		but I guess it beats communing with
		washing machines.

					DRUMLIN
		What's that?

					KENT
		Nothing.
			   (looking at Fisher;
			    hesitates a long
			    beat)
		Okay.  Some of us have been a
		little... not concerned, exactly,
		but...

					DRUMLIN
			   (almost gently)
		Tell me.

					KENT
			   (hesitates again;
			    finally)
		Last week, about 3 A.M., Fish -- Dr.
		Fisher -- was on a late shift, and
		he found her doing laundry.

					DRUMLIN
		So?

					KENT
		So... there wasn't any clothes in
		the machine.  She was just sitting
		there on the floor with her ear
		pressed up against the Maytag.
		Listening.

EXT.  VLA LIVING QUARTERS - ESTABLISHING - DUSK

Across a barren patch of desert lies a weathered
residential outbuilding, something between a dormitory and
a Motel Six.

INT.  ELLIE'S QUARTERS - DUSK

Home.  Painted cinderblock, a single star map up on the
wall.  An old lumpy couch, several monitors along a shelf
on one wall that connects her to the control room.
Headphones, listening equipment.  Ellie is at the fridge.

					ELLIE
		Pepsi?  Tequila?

					DRUMLIN
		No, thanks.

He sits on the corner of the unmade bed.  Ellie pops open
a soda, unselfconscious.

					DRUMLIN
		Peter sends his regards.

					ELLIE
			   (a little too
			    nonchalant)
		Oh?  How's he doing?

					DRUMLIN
		Very well; since my appointment he's
		been made interim director.

					ELLIE
		Really?  Congratulations, by the
		way.

					DRUMLIN
		I'm surprised you even knew it was
		an election year.

					ELLIE
		'President's Science Advisor' -- so
		what, you just spend all your time
		jetting around on Air Force One
		now...?

					DRUMLIN
		Now exactly.  It's... complicated.

					ELLIE
		No doubt.

					DRUMLIN
			   (a beat, then)
		Ellie...

					ELLIE
			   (avoiding the
			    inevitable)
		Did I tell you we've expanded the
		search spectrum?  We're including
		several other possible magic
		frequencies -- not just the hydrogen
		line anymore.  I was trying to get
		inside their heads, y'know?  And I
		started thinking, what other
		constants are there in the Universe
		besides hydrogen, and then suddenly
		it was so obvious -- transcendantals,
		right?  So we've been trying
		variations of pi...

					DRUMLIN
		You know why I'm here.

					ELLIE
		It's not enough having my search
		time systematically cut down -- you
		know I'm down to three hours a week
		now.

					DRUMLIN
		Ellie, I should have done this a
		long time ago, certainly before I
		left the N.S.F., but I wanted to
		give you every benefit of the
		doubt --

					ELLIE
		You can't just pull the plug, David.

					DRUMLIN
		It's not like you've given me much
		choice.

					ELLIE
		Meaning...

					DRUMLIN
		Meaning I have to go defend a budget
		to the President and to Congress and
		you're out here listening to washing
		machines.

					ELLIE
			   (quietly)
		I'm searching for patterns in the
		noise, that's all.  Order in the
		chaos.  I'm practicing listening --

					DRUMLIN
		The point is, this isn't just
		scientific inquiry anymore -- it's
		turned into some kind of personal
		obsession.

					ELLIE
		The difference being what -- that I
		refuse to adopt the standard line,
		that I don't care about the results
		of my work?  Well, I do care.  Of
		course any discovery has to be
		verifiable, of course it must be
		subject to all rigors of scientific
		method, but I refuse to go around
		pretending I'm some kind of
		dispassionate automaton when it's
		obvious to anyone with a brain I'm
		just not.

					DRUMLIN
		No... You're not.  But the price has
		just gotten too high.

					ELLIE
		Goddamnit, they are out there,
		David --

					DRUMLIN
		Then why haven't you detected any
		signals?  If, as you claim, there
		have been thousands, millions of
		advanced civilizations out there for
		millions of years then why hasn't
		one signal gotten through?
			   (rising)
		It'll take a month or two for the
		paperwork to go through; you're
		welcome to stay until then.

					ELLIE
		David --

					DRUMLIN
		It was a worthy experiment -- worthy
		of you; I was wrong about that part.
		But it's over now.

He leaves.  Ellie just stands there in the window,
fighting back the emotion, watching the telescopes in the
falling light...

EXT.  SPACE - MESSAGE

approaches the out regions of our solar system; Neptune --
an austere, deep blue gas world with swirling clouds of
methane.

The message shoots by more worlds at the speed of light.
Saturn.  Jupiter.  Closer.

MESSAGE - TO EARTH - DESCENDING VIEWS

Approaching the big blue and white marble, breathtaking
against a backdrop of stars.

We PLUNGE PAST the outer satellites, the Hubble telescope
-- Space Station Mir.  We ENTER the atmosphere, DESCENDING
THROUGH layers of clouds, DOWN farther and farther, FASTER
AND FASTER --

We RUSH DOWN TOWARD North America, the Southwest U.S.,
SMASHING DOWN TOWARD the tiny dot of the VLA, TOWARD the
westernmost dish and INTO the antenna at its center --

INSERT - TV - LARRY KING LIVE

The famous host's familiar features, pixilated in EXTREME
CLOSEUP.

					LARRY KING (V.O.)
			   (TV)
		My guest tonight is author and
		theologian Palmer Joss, 'God's
		diplomat' according to the New York
		Times.  His new book -- Losing Faith
		-- is currently number one on that
		publication's bestseller list.
		Thanks for being with us, Reverend.
		Okay -- who's losing faith -- and
		why?

Our first glimpse of Palmer Joss.  He has a rumpled,
rugged charm that has become just the slightest bit
polished.  No bullshit, agreeably ironic, he's ridden the
wave of the New Spiritualism farther than even he ever
imagined.

					JOSS (V.O.)
		Well, let me start this way, Larry.
		What has science done for you
		lately?

					LARRY KING (V.O.)
		Besides letting me broadcast this
		program all over the world?

					JOSS (V.O.)
			   (smiles)
		Besides that.  Or better, I'll give
		you that, but tell me this:  Are
		you happier?  Are we happier?  Is
		our would fundamentally a better
		place?

WIDEN SLOWLY to reveal:

INT.  VLA CONTROL ROOM - NIGHT

Willie and Fisher sit at the command console, battling the
ennui of their watch.  BOB MARLEY plays on a battered
BOOMBOX; Fisher watches Joss on a Watchman.

					JOSS (V.O.)
			   (TV)
		Don't get me wrong -- we're smart,
		Larry.  We shop at home, we surf the
		net... and we feel emptier and
		lonelier and more cut off from each
		other than at any other time in
		human history...

Fisher eats a Baby Ruth and sips a Coke as he watches.
Willie, heavy into his Gameboy, has a sudden epiphany.

					WILLIE
		Y'know who'd make great astronomers?
		Vampires.  Think about it; the
		perfect synthesis of career and
		lifestyle.

					FISHER
			   (engrossed in TV)
		Shut up, Willie.

INT.  ELLIE'S ROOM - NIGHT

Ellie lies crashed out on the couch, headphones on.  All
we hear is STATIC...

... and then, beneath the static, we begin to hear another
sound, barely audible but definitely there...

A faint irregular PULSING, FADING IN AND OUT of reception.

Ellie slowly swims up to consciousness.  After a moment
her eyes open.  She sits up --

TIGHT ON BOOMBOX

still playing REGGAE.  A hand reaches in and turns it OFF.

INT.  VLA CONTROL - ROOM

Willie and Fisher look up in surprise as Ellie goes to the
main console, starts checking instrument readings.

					WILLIE
		Got a bogey, boss?

					ELLIE
		I'm not sure.  You mind checking
		right ascension 18 hours, 34
		minutes; declination plus 38 degrees
		41 minutes?

					FISHER
		What's the frequency?

					ELLIE
		4458.8 gigahertz.

Fisher and Willie look at each other significantly.

					ELLIE
		It's probably nothing.

They start typing in coordinates.

THROUGH WINDOW - GIANT RADIO TELESCOPES

turn one by one, fixing on the same point in the sky.

INT.  VLA CONTROL - CONTINUOUS ACTION

Willie puts on headsets, flips a switch, twists a dial.

					WILLIE
			   (in wonder)
		Hydrogen times pi...
			   (calling to Ellie)
		Got it.  Strong sucker.

					ELLIE
		Put it on speakers.

He punches a button.  An eerie, PULSING METALLIC SOUND.
Willie and Fisher run their routine checks with a
practiced calm --

		 WILLIE				   FISHER
   Could be AWACS from		 Glitch in number
   Kirtland; verifying		 seventeen.
   intensity.  Wasn't		  Monochromatic, strong
   seventeen where we found	 too.  That was twenty-
   that owl's nest last		three, besides I got
   month?				    signal across the
						   board.

Around the room a few night owls are watching with growing
interest.  Ellie types rapidly on a keyboard, watching a
monitor above her:  SEARCH)STAR FIELD ORIGIN OF SIGNAL)

					FISHER
		Checking interferometric position.
		Somewhere in Lyra, I think...

					ELLIE
		Vega...?

					WILLIE
		That can't be right; it's only
		twenty-six light years away.

					ELLIE
		I scanned it at Arecibo; negative
		results, always.

					FISHER
		Linearly polarized; a set of moving
		pulses restricted to two different
		amplitudes --

					WILLIE
		Air Force isn't supposed to be on
		this frequency.

					ELLIE
		That's what they always say; punch
		up the darks.

Another display shows all satellites and major debris in
orbit; "darks" glow in red.

					ELLIE
			   (murmurs)
		How's the spying tonight, guys?

					WILLIE
		NORAD's not tracking any spacecraft
		in our vector including snoops;
		shuttle Endeavor's in sleep mode.

					FISHER
		Interferometry now rules out a
		Molniya-type orbit.

					WILLIE
		Confirming sidereal motion; whatever
		it is, it ain't local.

Ellie fights to stay calm -- but the excitement rippling
through the gathered is palpable --

					ELLIE
		Display absolute intensity.

On another monitor a sound spike leaps with each pulse.

					WILLIE
		Reading over a hundred janskys --

Ellie puts on headsets, shuts her eyes in fierce
concentration as she listens -- for a moment only a signal
echoes through the control room --

					ELLIE
		Numbers.  Those are numbers, each
		pulse is a set -- break it down --

Now with each pulse, long strings of zeros and ones
appear.  On the monitor:  PROMPT:  CONVERTING TO BASE 10)
OPERATION COMPLETED

MAIN DISPLAY

With each pulse a number appears:  59  61  67  71  79  83
89  91  --

					ELLIE
		79 -- 83 -- 91 -- they're all
		primes, no way that's a natural
		phenomenon -- !

The room ignites.  Ellie shouts over the din --

					ELLIE
		Okay, let's just slow down.  Pull up
		the starfield signal origin.

					KENT (O.S.)
		It can't be coming from Vega, the
		system's too young.

Kent stands sleepily in the doorway, wearing Kermit the
Frog pajamas and an old robe.  Willie punches up a screen:

		   ELLIE					 WILLIE
   Maybe they didn't grow up	  Constellation Lyra,
   there, maybe they're just	  brightest star Vega,
   visiting.				   A-zero main sequence
							dwarf, estimate several
		   KENT			   million years old.
   The system's full of debris	Distance 26 light years
   -- any spacecraft that		accretion disk, no
   stayed for long would get	  known planets.
   clobbered.

					NEARBY SKEPTIC
		Not if they took evasive action and
		used their photon torpedoes.

					ELLIE
		Or if they're in polar orbit -- but
		no, you're right.  If we go public
		and we're wrong, that's it -- it is
		over for us.
			   (the room grows
			    quiet)
		Vega will set in a couple of hours;
		it's probably already risen in
		Australia.  Let's call Ian and see
		if we can get some verification on
		this.

Willie picks up the phone and dials.  All eyes on Ellie.

					ELLIE
		Okay.  We have an intense, not very
		monochromatic signal, linearly
		polarized as if coming from an
		antenna, source moving with the
		stars so it can't be an airplane or
		spacecraft; on and only on a
		frequency whose only significance
		would be to an intelligence that
		wanted to be directed.  If anyone
		can come up with any plausible or
		even implausible explanation besides
		ETI I want to hear it, now.

Silence.  Willie on the phone --

					WILLIE
		Yeah -- yeah, just a sec --

He looks up at Ellie.  She looks back --

EXT.  CSCIRO RADIO TELESCOPE (AUSTRALIA) - DAY

					IAN (V.O.)
			   (phone)
		... We put it smack in the middle --

INT.  CSCIRO CONTROL ROOM - CONTINUOUS ACTION

IAN BRODERICK, head of SETI down under, reaches across a
star map surrounded by other excited technicians --

					IAN
		Vega.

As his finger hits the map --

INT.  VLA CONTROL ROOM - SAME TIME

					ELLIE
			   (pausing)
		Thanks, Ian.  Can you just keep
		tracking it as long as you can and
		we'll get back to you.
			   (slowly puts down
			    the phone, then)
		Get this out to every observatory
		and radio array on the planet.
		Um... and get me the President's
		Science Advisor.

Outside the sun is coming up.  They all look to the
windows.  The telescopes are silhouetted against the pale
light.

Ellie goes.  They watch her -- then turn to look out at
the rows of mechanical flowers pointing up at the new
dawn.

INT.  ELLIE'S ROOM

Ellie shuts the door behind her.  She sinks to the
floor, looks up, breathless --

					ELLIE
		Hello, Pensacola...

ELLIE'S E-MAIL

as it types out on various screens at radio telescopes in
exotic locations around the world; various teams gather
round --

	ANOMALOUS INTERMITTENT RADIO SOURCE AT RIGHT
	ASCENSION 18 34m, DECLINATION PLUS 38 DEGREES 41
	MINUTES, DISCOVERED BY VLA SYSTEMATIC SKY SURVEY.
	FREQUENCY 4458.8 GIGAHERTZ, LYRA/VEGA SYSTEM.
	174 AND 179 JANSKYS.  EVIDENCE AMPLITUDES
	ENCODE SEQUENCE OF PRIME NUMBERS.  FULL
	LONGITUDE COVERAGE URGENTLY NEEDED.  E. ARROWAY,
	DIRECTOR, PROJECT ARGUS, SOCORRO, NEW MEXICO, U.S.A.

Sound upcut:  a JET ENGINE ROARS --

EXT.  WHITE SANDS AFB - DAY

AIR FORCE 2 lands with a SCREECH as Government Motor Pool
cars speed toward it across the tarmac.

National Security Advisor MICHAEL KITZ -- very sharp and
serious as death -- steps out of the plane... followed
momentarily by David Drumlin.  He doesn't look happy.

EXT.  VLA - MAIN ENTRANCE - DAY

Security guards stonewall two mobile TV news trucks.  A
handful of protesters picket the entrance carrying signs;
"JUSTICE," "STOP THE COVERUP," "ROSWELL."

					PROTESTERS
			   (chanting)
		U-F-O-s -- We want to know --

As Kitz, Drumlin and a small VIP delegation make their way
in, Local News Reporters thrust microphones in their faces
-- "Mr. Kitz, Dr. Drumlin --"

					KITZ
		The President will be making a
		statement in due time; until then we
		have no comment.

INT.  CONTROL CENTER - DAY

Fisher leads Kitz, Drumlin and the rest of the delegation
around the room.  Coffee cups and cigarettes abound.
Drumlin crosses over to Willie's console, studies the
display.  In the b.g. we hear the constant BEEPING of the
MESSAGE.

					DRUMLIN
		What's the latest?

					WILLIE
		Forty-four stations worldwide now
		confirming the signal, sir.

					DRUMLIN
			   (to an aide)
		Let's get some decryption people
		here, now.  Dr. Lunacharsky's
		visiting at the University of New
		Mexico --

Kitz and others look at the main display as the primes
continue to scroll.

					KITZ
		I don't get it.  If this
		civilization is so advanced why the
		remedial math?

					SENATE DELEGATE
		Why don't they just speak English?

					ELLIE (O.S.)
		Maybe because seventy percent of the
		planet speaks other languages.

All eyes turn to Ellie; she hasn't slept but you'd hardly
notice.

					ELLIE
		Mathematics is the only truly
		universal language, Senator.  We
		think this may be a beacon -- an
		announcement to get our attention.

					DRUMLIN
		If it's attention you want I'd say
		you've got it.
			   (as Ellie turns to
			    him)
		Just one thing:  Why Vega?
		Everyone's looked at Vega for years
		with no results, and now, yesterday,
		they start broadcasting primes.
		Why?

					ELLIE
		It's hardly yesterday; the signal's
		been traveling for over twenty-six
		years.  As for why...
			   (meeting his gaze)
		I'm hoping your own expertise in
		decryption algorithms will help us
		find out -- to see if there's
		another message buried deeper in the
		signal.

Drumlin frowns, effectively neutralized for the moment.

					KITZ
		Dr. Arroway --

					DRUMLIN
		Michael Kitz, National Security
		Advisor.

					KITZ
		Dr. Arroway, let me first say --

					ELLIE
		Before you do could you please ask
		the gentlemen with the firearms to
		wait outside?  This is a civilian
		facility.

Kitz pauses -- then gives a signal to dismiss the Berets.

					ELLIE
		Oh, and if you could ask them not to
		use their radios -- interference.
		Thanks so much.

Drumlin warns her with a look, which she conveniently
avoids.

					KITZ
		I'll come right to the point,
		Doctor.  Your sending this message
		all over the world may well be a
		breach of National Security.

					ELLIE
		This isn't a person to person call,
		Mr. Kitz.  I don't really think the
		civilization sending the message
		intended it just for Americans.

					KITZ
		I'm saying you might have consulted
		us; the contents of this message
		could be extremely sensitive...

					ELLIE
		You want to classify prime numbers?

					DRUMLIN
		Mike, because of the Earth's
		rotation we're only in line with
		Vega so many hours a day; the only
		way to get the whole message is to
		cooperate with other stations.  If
		Dr. Arroway hadn't moved quickly we
		could have lost key elements.

					KITZ
		Okay, fine, they've got the primes
		-- but if you're right about there
		being another more significant
		transmission still to come --

					ELLIE
		-- which we'll also need the
		network's help to receive and
		decode!

					KITZ
		You don't seem to understand that
		it's your interests I'm trying to
		protect -- !

Suddenly the steady BEEPING of the MESSAGE STOPS, replaced
by terrible STATIC.  On the various displays the prime
numbers start to scramble.

					FISHER
		Oh shit.

					ELLIE
		Interference -- we're losing the
		signal.

EXT.  VLA CONTINUOUS ACTION - DAY

Media choppers circle like buzzards:  CNN, ABC, WGH Santa
Fe, freelance weather choppers on the lookout for "Hard
Copy" --

INT.  VLA - CONTINUOUS ACTION - DAY

The DRONE of the CHOPPERS continues in the b.g.

					KENT
		Can't we get rid of them?

					ELLIE
			   (looks up at Kitz;
			    slowly)
		It's a civilian facility.

Kitz allows himself the barest hint of a smile -- then
switches on his radio and speaks calmly into it.

					KITZ
		Colonel Jarrod, I'd like a twenty
		mile radio-silent perimeter put
		around this installation
		immediately.

					ELLIE
		And a hundred mile airspace.

					KITZ
		And a hundred mile airspace.

EXT.  VLA PERIMETER - DUSK

In the extreme f.g. a heavy-duty aluminum post is thrust
into the earth -- a fence is being erected.

INT.  VLA ROOM - DUSK

Kitz stands in the former lounge/cafeteria; an improvised
command center has been set up on the ping-pong table.
Aides continue to hook up equipment as he talks on a red
phone:

					KITZ
		... under control for the moment but
		the longer we wait the more unstable
		the situation could become.  I think
		you should consider coming here...

INT.  CONTROL ROOM - DUSK

STEPHEN LUNACHARSKY, a high-strung Russian scientist,
chain smokes as he types.  Ellie and Drumlin stand over
him, Kent next to him, others nearby.

					ELLIE
		... could it be a nested code of
		some sort?

					DRUMLIN
		You must have checked the signal for
		polarization modulation already...

Ellie hesitates.  Drumlin looks at her.  Whoops.

					ELLIE
		Dr. Lunacharsky...?

					LUNACHARSKY
			   (takes a drag)
		Analyzing signal polarization
		shifts.

He type in a series of commands.  Something begins to
happen on the main display --

					LUNACHARSKY
		Bingo.

POV - THROUGH WINDOW

Kitz, on the phone, sees the activity around the console.

BACK TO SCENE

Lunacharsky types in commands as he talks.

					LUNACHARSKY
		A second layer, nested within the
		main signal; possibly... a picture?
		Product of three primes...

					KITZ
			   (joining them)
		What.

					LUNACHARSKY
		... definitely three dimensions,
		either a hologram or a two-
		dimensional picture that moves in
		time; a movie.

					DRUMLIN
			   (dryly)
		Hope there's a cartoon.

					KITZ
		How is that possible?  How could all
		that information be encoded in --

					KENT
		Well, sir, some bits of the signal
		are bits that tell us how to
		interpret the other bits.
		Technically speaking.

JURYRIGGED 35-INCH MONITOR

Strings of zeros and ones fill the screen as the group
assembles around it.

					ELLIE
		Enlarge.

Willie types.  Ellie moves closer, studying it.
Intuitively:

					ELLIE
		Try plotting values in a three
		dimensional coordinate system.

A pattern begins to emerge.

					DRUMLIN
		Throw a gray scale on it; standard
		interpolation.

					ELLIE
		Rotate 90 degrees counterclock wise.

Willie enters commands.  All are mesmerized by the shadows
taking form on the screen.

					ELLIE
		It has to be an image.  Stack it up,
		string-breaks every 60th character.

On the screen a distinct black and white moving image
forms; grays define it even further.  The group is
transfixed.  Kitz whispers to an aide who makes a call in
a hand radio.

					KENT
		Um... I've got an auxiliary sideband
		channel here.  I think it's audio.

An otherworldly RUMBLING GLISSANDO of sounds joins the
image, sliding up and down the spectrum... and then the
faint SWELLING MUSIC is heard.  Ellie reaches over Willie
and type more commands.  The picture rotates, rectifies,
focuses --

					KITZ
		What in the hell...?

					DRUMLIN
		It's a hoax.  I knew it!

					KENT
		Um, excuse me, but would someone
		mind telling me what the hell is
		going on?

Other reactions range from astonishment to nervous
laughter.  Ellie and Peter stare in utter amazement.

ON SCREEN

A grainy black and white image of a massive reviewing
stand adorned with an immense Art Deco eagle.

Clutched in the eagle's concrete talons is a swastika.

Adolph Hitler salutes a rhythmically chanting crowd.

The deep baritone voice of an ANNOUNCER, scratchy but
unmistakably GERMAN, BOOMS through the room.  The dark
absurdity of the moment plays over Ellie's face; helpless:

					ELLIE
		Anybody know German?

Kent tilts his head, closes his eyes.

					KENT
		The Fuhrer... welcomes the world to
		the German Fatherland... for the
		opening of the 1936 Olympic Games.

Hitler's face fills the screen.  The crowd roars its
approval.

									 CUT TO:

TELEVISED RIOT

in Berlin.  Police with hoses try to keep a mob of
skinheads under control.

					GERMAN ANNOUNCER (V.O.)
			   (in German)
		... the signal from the American
		observatory depicting Adolph Hitler
		has brought about chaos in the
		streets of Berlin, where hundreds of
		neo-Nazis gathered to swear eternal
		fealty...

Slowly WIDEN to reveal a monitor wall.

A kaleidoscopic display of global news coverage of the
event.  Demonstrations in a dozen cities, commentary from
pundits, Aryan leaders and Auschwitz survivors.  A single
figure sits before the monitors, taking in the cacophony.

INT.  VLA CORRIDOR - DAY

A huddle of figures sweeps down a dark corridor, charged
with power and purpose.

					FEMALE VOICE (O.S.)
		Forty million people die defeating
		that sonofabitch and he becomes our
		first ambassador to another
		civilization?  It makes me sick.

					DRUMLIN (O.S.)
		With all due respect, the Hitler
		broadcast from the '36 Olympics was
		the first television transmission of
		any power that went into space.
		That they recorded it and sent it
		back is simply a way of saying
		'Hello, we heard you --'

					KITZ (O.S.)
		-- Or 'you're our kind of people --'

					DRUMLIN (O.S.)
		-- It's extremely unlikely that they
		had any idea what they were looking
		at.

					FEMALE VOICE (O.S.)
		I can't believe that everything on
		TV is automatically broadcast all
		over the universe.  'Hard Copy'...
		Rickie Lake'...
			   (paling)
		Oh God, the '60 Minutes' interview.

The huddle bursts through a door and out into the dazzling
New Mexico morning, revealing the PRESIDENT and her
entourage:  Drumlin, Kitz, Secret Service, and fighting to
keep up, Ellie.

A sea of press awaits them as they move toward the podium,
which has been set up with the 31 enormous radio antennas
in the b.g.  As the CHIEF OF STAFF takes the podium Ellie
looks over her note cards, then nervously out at the
crowd.

					CHIEF OF STAFF
		Ladies and gentlemen, the President
		of the United States.

President Helen Lasker addresses the crowd.  She's an
American version of Margaret Thatcher.

					PRESIDENT LASKER (FEMALE VOICE)
		My fellow Americans, citizens of the
		world, ladies and gentlemen of the
		press.  At 7:09 A.M. Eastern
		Standard Time yesterday morning,
		American scientists detected a radio
		signal from space.  This message was
		largely mathematical, and in spite
		of some of the headlines I've seen
		today, so far seems to be completely
		benign in nature.  To better explain
		the extraordinary events of the last
		24 hours, I'm turning you over to...
		Doctor David Drumlin.

Ellie looks up in surprise.  Drumlin doesn't miss a beat
as he strides to the podium.

					DRUMLIN
		Good morning.  In 1936 a very faint
		television signal transmitted the
		opening ceremonies of the Olympic
		games as a show of German superior
		technology.  That signal left Earth
		at the speed of light and twenty-six
		years later arrived on Vega, which
		they then sent back to us hugely
		amplified.  As evidence of
		intelligence this is indisputable --

As Drumlin continues we see Fisher ease onto the dais from
behind, approach Ellie and surreptitiously hand her a
note.

					DRUMLIN
		Whoever or whatever they are,
		they're clearly move advanced than
		we...

Ellie reads it, looks up at Fisher in surprise -- then
quietly slips away.  A murmur among the press as they
notice; the President and then Drumlin as well --

					DRUMLIN
		... maybe only decades or centuries,
		maybe much further along than
		that...

INT.  VLA CONTROL ROOM - DAY

Ellie hurries into the control room -- then stops dead.

POV - MAIN MONITOR

The incredibly complex geometric pattern we see flashing
on the screen will be referred to as hieroglyphics -- but
they are like no hieroglyphics ever seen before;
chillingly otherworldly, they are the first visual
artifact of an alien civilization.  The scientists stand
stunned and silent.

BACK TO SCENE

					ELLIE
		What...

					LUNACHARSKY
			   (softly)
		In ancient times when parchment was
		in short supply people would write
		over old writing... it was called a
		palimpsest.

					ELLIE
		A third layer.

A phalanx of officials led by Drumlin, Kitz and the
President hurry in... and also stop at the sight of the
hieroglyphs.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		Oh my God...

					KITZ
		What is it?

					ELLIE
		I think we just hit the cosmic
		jackpot.

					KENT
		It's incredibly rich.  We've been
		cataloging it in frames or 'pages';
		right now we're on 10,413.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		What does it say?

					ELLIE
		It could be anything.  The first
		volume of some Encyclopedia
		Galactica...

					KITZ
		... instructions to acquaint us with
		their colonization procedures.

					KENT
		Moses with a few billion new
		commandments...

					KITZ
		Ms. President, in the interest of
		national security, I strongly
		recommend we militarize this project
		immediately --

					ELLIE
		Pardon me, but you can't do -- !

					KITZ
		If at some later date the message
		proves harmless, we can discuss
		sharing it with the rest of the
		world, but until then --

					ELLIE
		That's terrific, but there's one
		problem:  we don't have the means to
		receive all the data on our own.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		Is that true?

					DRUMLIN
		The only way would be if we had a
		radio telescope in orbit.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		We don't?  Why don't we?

					ELLIE
		Because you cut it from the budget
		three years running.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		How soon will you be able to decode
		it?

					LUNACHARSKY
		There's no way of knowing.  Without
		a key -- a primer, to help us, maybe
		never.

					ELLIE
		Maybe it'll be at the end of the
		data when the message recycles.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		Well.  That would seem to decide it.
		Like it or not, for the moment,
		anyway, it looks like we're all in
		this together.

					KITZ
		But --

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		That's it, Mike.  Last time I
		checked, I was still running the
		country.  Although it seems that for
		the moment, Dr. Arroway is running
		the planet.

The President looks up at the screen and involuntarily
shivers.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		Let's get out of here.

									 CUT TO:

MONITOR WALL (LOCATION UNKNOWN) - DAY

More global news coverage, private surveillance camera
feeds; also some disturbing pornographic images.

On one monitor, a moment from the President's VLA press
conference plays over and over -- the moment when Drumlin
stepped up to the podium in front of Ellie.  A gnarled
hand pushes a button on a console and the image enlarges
-- we see Ellie's expression of shock and hurt, over and
over.  Over and over.

On the next monitor over is live CNN coverage of the scene
outside the VLA -- we begin to PUSH IN ON it --

					WOLF BLITZER (V.O.)
		... There had been speculation on
		the part of psychologists that the
		proliferation of depictions of
		aliens in movies and on television
		in recent years might make for an
		almost blase acceptance of the news.

								    MATCH CUT TO:

EXT.  DESERT (NEW MEXICO) - DAY

The road leading to the VLA is jammed with vehicles, RVs,
vans, busses, as far as the eye can see.  More people walk
on the side of the road.

					WOLF BLITZER (V.O.)
		But the truth is, it turns out, is
		far stranger than anything Hollywood
		might have dreamed up -- and here,
		today, the prospect of
		extraterrestrial intelligence if no
		longer science fiction -- it's the
		best show in town.

The VIEW CLIMBS, REVEALING campfires, BBQs, tents of all
shapes and sizes littering the plains surrounding the
telescope array.  Signs and banners reading "Watch the
Skies" and "There are Aliens Among Us."  Woodstock 1998.

					VOICE (O.S.)
		... I know you're angry -- we're all
		angry.  About the lies.  The
		corruption.  About the cancer of
		despair spreading through every
		aspect of our lives.  But Rome will
		fall, my friends; everywhere now are
		the signs of closure.  Even now the
		end begins.

EXT.  VLA ENTRANCE - CONTINUOUS ACTION

Various preachers and new age gurus speak to gatherings
all along the new cyclone fence surrounding the VLA.  We
become aware of a crowd concentrated around a young man
speaking on a small stage:  JOSEPH.  He has the appeal of
a rock star, albeit a compelling well-spoken one.  His
AMPLIFIED VOICE RINGS OUT:

					JOSEPH
		The millennium is upon us.  God has
		fulfilled his promise, sending us
		this herald to warn the faithless --
		the scientists who tell us He
		doesn't even exist -- and to promise
		us, the faithful, we will be saved.

Beyond Joseph we can see through the shiny new cyclone
fence to the VLA building, now surrounded by tents and
temporary structures.

					JOSEPH (O.S.)
		I don't know what this voice from
		the sky says -- but I do know that
		if history has taught us anything,
		it's that the politicians and the
		scientists are lying to us, right
		now, for their own good!  Are these
		the kind of people you want talking
		to your God for you -- ?

INT.  VLA CONTROL ROOM - DAY

Outside, the panorama window searchlights fan, CROWDS
CHANT frightening rhythms.  Inside, the numbing, never-
ending pulses of the signal and scrolling numbers.

The former lounge/cafeteria has been turned into
decryption central:  dozens of personal workstations,
populated with Silicon Valley's finest assortment of
techno-wizards, crashed out on cots in a 'round-the-clock
effort to break the code.

Ellie sips her coffee as she walks briskly through the
chaos; Drumlin matches her stride for stride.

					DRUMLIN
		... Arrangements also have to be
		made for the V.I.P.s coming in,
		mostly religious leaders...

					ELLIE
		What?  Why?

					DRUMLIN
		The theological ramifications of all
		this are obvious; the President
		feels we need to include religious
		interests rather than alienate them.
		She's also named Palmer Joss as
		their liaison; he's requested a
		meeting with you.

					ELLIE
		With me.

					DRUMLIN
		Apparently he's genuinely interested
		in science.  This could be a chance
		to win him over.

					ELLIE
		I'm going to convert Mr. Science-is-
		the-root-of-all-evil?  This is
		absurd, David.  We have work to do
		here, I don't have time to play
		babysitter to the God Squad.

					DRUMLIN
			   (low and dangerous)
		Ellie --

Ellie looks at him in surprise as he grabs her by the
elbow.

					DRUMLIN
		I want you to listen to me,
		carefully.  The minute the
		implications of this message became
		clear, this stopped being simply a
		scientific matter and became a
		political one -- an extremely
		complex, extremely volatile one.
		There are forces at work here you
		don't understand; I can help you up
		to a point, but only up to a point.

					ELLIE
			   (in innocent wonder)
		Are you threatening me?

					DRUMLIN
		It's not a threat, Ellie, it's a
		fact -- if you're not careful, you
		may find yourself out in the cold
		very quickly.  Play ball.  Really.
		It's good advice.

Ellie stops as she notices through the windows,
Lunacharsky stepping out of the decryption area.  He's
looking right at her.

					ELLIE
		Excuse me.

ANGLE

As Ellie approaches Lunacharsky, something in his eyes
tells her there's more to his weary look than just
fatigue.

					ELLIE
		What?

					LUNACHARSKY
		We've repeated.  A few minutes ago
		the message cycled back to page one.

					ELLIE
		And?

					LUNACHARSKY
		No primer.

					ELLIE
			   (incredulous)
		How can that be?

					LUNACHARSKY
		I don't know.  Maybe there is a
		fourth layer in there somewhere, but
		if there is, I sure as hell can't
		find it.

Ellie stares at him -- turns to look at Drumlin -- then
walks out of the room.

INT.  ELLIE'S ROOM - NIGHT

Bleary-eyed, three days with no sleep, Ellie sits at her
terminal, staring at the hieroglyphics, more impenetrable
then ever.  In the corner, the TV DRONES.

					BERNIE SHAW (V.O.)
		... And with church attendance at
		record highs, a coalition of
		religious leaders are using their
		increased political capital to
		challenge the very legality of radio
		astronomy itself, claiming the
		message and its contents subvert the
		moral climate of their
		constituencies.  More after this...

A CNN special report logo -- "The Message," dazzlingly
vulgar with its own graphics and there.

A COMMERCIAL CONTINUES in the b.g.:

					COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER (V.O.)
		In the air, under the sea, in the
		depths of D.N.A. itself, Hadden
		Industries is at the frontier...

Ellie, chin on forearms, stares at her screen, willing
herself to find a pattern.

Suddenly she blinks -- something is changing.  A dot
appears in the middle of the screen.  It begins to grow,
revealing a complex fractal shape.  It splits, enlarges,
splits again, the shapes finally revealing themselves
as... English letters.  Which read:

"TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER"

Ellie stares --

					ELLIE
		Someone's broken into the system,
		someone's compromised the
		fucking -- !

She quickly type in:  "Who are you?"

The fractals reform"  "I'VE GOT A SECRET."

Ellie types again:  "WHO ARE YOU?"

The fractals reform:  "YOUR PLACE OR MINE?"

Ellie stares -- more fractals form as she grabs a pen and
paper --

EXT.  VLA - NIGHT

National Guardsmen have established a perimeter around the
compound; soldiers are posted on the main road as well.
As Ellie ROARS through the gate in her 1967 T-BIRD, our
VIEW RISES:  the new Woodstock nation is, for the moment,
asleep.

EXT.  HIGHWAY (NEW MEXICO) - NIGHT

Ellie's tense face lit by the dash.  She picks up a piece
of paper with scribbled directions on it.  Turns onto a
dirt road.

EXT.  HIGHWAY (NEW MEXICO) - LOW ANGLE POV - NIGHT

of Ellie's CAR ROARING by SWINGS to reveal a jackrabbit
sitting at the side of the road, its nose twitching.

EXT.  DESERT - NIGHT

Ellie's car approaches a small, private airstrip; a black,
unmarked helicopter is waiting.

HIGH ABOVE UTAH - DAWN

The strange rock formations of southeastern Utah almost
resemble another planet.

EXT.  LARGER AIRSTRIP (UTAH)

As the helicopter sets down, we see two Lear jets and
another Helicopter... service vehicles for the enormous
Russian transport plane that sits beyond them.

A dark-suited Japanese MAJOR DOMO helps Ellie out of the
helicopter.

					MAJOR DOMO
		You should be flattered.  He hardly
		lands for anyone.

INT.  TRANSPORT PLANE

The Major Domo leads Ellie down a corridor of the plane's
custom interior.  Through one door we can see into a room
where several very beautiful, very young women sit
watching TV with vacant eyes.  Ellie only catches a
glimpse before the Major Domo nods for her to enter the
main room and takes his post outside.

Ellie cautiously enters the interior of what appears to be
a flying Dascha; dark, heavy on the chintz.  Bookshelves,
an exercise machine... and a wall of monitors, filled top
to bottom with scrolling hieroglyphics.  Ellie reaches out
to them --

					HADDEN (O.S.)
		Dr. Arroway, I presume.

Ellie turns to see S.R. HADDEN.  Thick glasses, wearing a
cardigan, he stands by a silver samovar.

					ELLIE
		S.R. Hadden...
			   (beat)
		You compromised our security codes.

					HADDEN
		Once upon a time I was a hell of an
		engineer.  Please, sit, Doctor.  I
		have guests so rarely, it's
		important to me they feel welcome in
		my home.
			   (turns to the
			    samovar)
		Did you know this was once Yeltsin's
		flying dascha?  That dent is where
		he threw a bottle of vodka at the
		pilot.  At least that's what the
		people who sold me the plane said...

As he speaks, he slowly and with great effort raises a
glass to the samovar, fills it with tea.

					ELLIE
		You live here.

					HADDEN
		I find it convenient to keep my
		interests... mobile.  Anyway, I've
		had my fill of life on the ground.
		After spending much of this century
		pursuing the evils and pleasures the
		world has to offer -- after
		outliving three wives and two
		children...
			   (a bare flicker of
			    emotion)
		I find I've had quite enough of
		planet Earth.

					ELLIE
		Why am I here, Mr. Hadden?

					HADDEN
			   (smiles)
		The infamous, unfashionable
		bluntness.
			   (turning)
		You're here so we can do business.
		I want to make a deal.

					ELLIE
		What kind of deal?

					HADDEN
		The powers that be have been quite
		busy lately, falling over each other
		to position themselves for the game
		of the century, if not the
		millennium.  Perhaps you've noticed.
			   (as Ellie reacts,
			    Hadden smiles)
		Perhaps I could help deal you back
		in.

					ELLIE
		I didn't realize I was out.

					HADDEN
		Oh, maybe not out -- but definitely
		looking for you coat.
			   (beat)
		I understand you've had some
		difficulty locating the -- what are
		you calling it?  The 'primer' that
		will make decryption possible...
			   (he turns to her,
			    simply)
		I've found it.

					ELLIE
		You've... found it.
			   (catching her breath)
		What could I possibly have that you
		would want, Mr. Hadden?

					HADDEN
		I've had a long time to make
		enemies, Dr. Arroway.  There are
		many governments, business
		interests, even religious leaders
		who would like to see me disappear.
		And I will grant them their wish
		soon enough... But before I do, I
		wish to make a small contribution --
		a final gesture of goodwill toward
		the people of this little planet
		who've given -- from whom I've taken
		so much.

					ELLIE
		If I knew you any better I'd say
		that doesn't sound like you.

					HADDEN
			   (a dazzling smile)
		That's my girl...
			   (then)
		Lights.

The lights dim.  The wall monitors take center stage.

					HADDEN
		Forgive the theatrics, it's a
		weakness.

Hadden pulls on a pair of gloves for an imaginary VR
keyboard.  He gestures for Ellie to sit beside him, facing
the monitors.  He begins to type as the monitors scroll
hieroglyphics --

					HADDEN
		Page after page of data -- over
		sixty-three thousand in all, if I'm
		not mistaken... and at the end of
		each...

					ELLIE
		A page-break signal.  A period.

					HADDEN
		Not if you think like a Vegan.

					ELLIE
		You're saying... there is no
		separate primer in the message --
		because it's on every page so the
		recipient can decipher it wherever
		he is --

					HADDEN
		-- even if he doesn't receive the
		entire transmission.  Heaven is the
		mustard seed.

Hadden ghost-types a series of commands.  The monitor wall
syncs into a giant vidscreen --

The hieroglyphics begin to enlarge.  An almost invisible
dot in the lower right corner of the screen -- the page-
break signal -- grows larger and larger, until it reveals
a level of complexity and detail greater than that of the
hieroglyphics themselves.

					ELLIE
			   (breathless)
		Holy shit...

These new symbols begin to mutate change... something is
happening, Hadden leans in to Ellie.

					HADDEN
		You'll like this part.  A little
		flashy...

ON SCREEN

The symbols metamorphose into strange, fractal shapes;
like crystals, they begin to grow and shift, interacting
in a stunningly beautiful and intricate ballet --

					ELLIE
		Some kind of circuitry...?

					HADDEN
		Very good, Doctor.  I've also
		detected structural elements, back
		references, a general movement from
		the simple to the complex -- all of
		which would seem to indicate
		instructions -- an enormously
		complicated set of instructions --
		for building something.

					ELLIE
		A machine.
			   (off Hadden's nod)
		But a machine that does what?

					HADDEN
			   (smiles)
		That would seem to be the question
		of the hour.
			   (turning to her)
		I want to build it, Doctor.  Of
		course I'm already lobbying through
		the usual channels of influence and
		corruption -- but as I said, my
		colorful past has made many of those
		channels... difficult to navigate.
		I need someone on the inside.

					ELLIE
		And in return?

					HADDEN
		In return... you get the primer --
		and with it the power to stay in the
		game.  Do we have a deal?

Ellie pulls herself away from the hypnotic display.

					ELLIE
		Mr. Hadden, I'm a scientist; I don't
		make deals... But.  If you wish to
		give me, in good faith, access to
		your information, I can assure you
		that I will exert all reasonable
		efforts to promote your cause
		wherever it doesn't conflict with
		the best interests of science... or
		my better judgment.

					HADDEN
			   (delighted)
		That's my girl.  Done.

Ellie turns to watch the screens as the fractals continue
to coalesce.  Dazzled --

								    CUT TO:

EXT.  CAMP DAVID - AERIAL SHOT - DAY

The snow-covered Presidential retreat in its forest
setting.

INT.  CAMP DAVID - BRIEFING ROOM - DAY

Charts display a decoded periodic table, the slice of
circuitry; monitors scroll through hundreds of decoded
pages.

					ELLIE
		... And while its function remains,
		for the moment, a mystery, my best
		guess is that it represents a
		transport of some kind.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		A transport.  So are they coming or
		are we going?

					KITZ
			   (interrupting)
		The transport theory is only one
		hypothesis, Ms. President, and in my
		view a rather naive one.  It could
		just as easily be some kind of
		Trojan Horse.  We build it and out
		pours the entire Vegan army.

					CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS
		Why even bother to risk personnel?
		Why not send some kind of doomsday
		machine?  Every time an emerging
		technological civilization announces
		itself by broadcasting radio waves
		into space they reply with a
		message.  The civilization builds it
		and blows itself up.  No
		expeditionary force needed.

					ELLIE
		Ms. President, this is communist
		paranoia right out of War of the
		Worlds.  There is no reason
		whatsoever to believe the ETIs
		intentions are hostile.  We pose no
		threat to them -- it would be like
		us going out of our way to destroy
		microbes on a beach in Africa.

					DRUMLIN
		Interesting analogy.  And how guilty
		would we feel if we happened to
		destroy some microbes on a beach in
		Africa?

					KITZ
			   (turning to Ellie)
		I hope you're right, Doctor.  But
		right now my job is to protect
		American lives from any plausible
		threat, and in that regard I have to
		assume the worst.

					RICHARD RANK
		From a non-secular perspective, I'm
		forced to agree.

All heads turn to RICHARD RANK, a surprisingly young and
well-spoken spokesman for the religious right.

					RANK
		My coalition's phone lines have been
		flooded with calls from concerned
		families, wondering if this message
		signifies the end of the world or
		the advent of the rapture.
			   (smiles)
		We feel that U.S. policy in this
		matter wants to be extremely
		conservative -- if there's any
		chance of danger or threat to our
		way of life perhaps the message and
		its contents should simply be
		disregarded.

					ELLIE
		This is absurd.

Drumlin shoots her a warning look; Rank ignores her.

					RANK
		The Bible states that God made man
		in His own image.  From everything
		I've been told it's highly unlikely
		the creatures who sent this message
		resemble human beings in any way,
		shape or form, ergo, they are not of
		God; and therefore by definition
		evil.  My constituents simply want
		to know what their government plans
		to do to protect them --

					ELLIE
		Ms. President, forgive me but I
		thought this was to be a serious
		discussion of policy and technical
		issues, not a war council against
		Satan's minions --

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		Mr. Rank's organization represents
		the point of view of tens of
		millions of families, Dr. Arroway.
		Feel free to disagree, but there
		won't be any suppressing of opinions
		here today.

					ELLIE
		Yes -- of course -- all I'm saying
		is, this message was written in the
		language of science -- mathematics
		-- and was clearly intended to be
		received by scientists.  If it had
		been religious in nature it should
		have taken the form of a burning
		bush, or a booming voice from the
		sky...

					JOSS (O.S.)
		But a voice from the sky is just
		what you say you've found.

Palmer Joss sits forward in his chair.

					JOSS
		I agree with Mr. Rank that there are
		unavoidable religious implications
		here -- but I don't think it
		justifies taking an alarmist
		position.  Dr. Arroway is right --
		their chosen means of communication
		was a scientific one, and a
		scientific approach is probably
		appropriate, at least until the
		theological dimensions of the
		problem become more apparent.

					ELLIE
		And where exactly does that put your
		position...?

					JOSS
		I'd have to say I don't know enough
		to have one yet.  For the moment I
		don't believe the two approaches
		have to be mutually exclusive.

Ellie looks at him, impressed in spite of herself.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		What's the status of the decryption
		effort?

					ELLIE
		Well --

					DRUMLIN
		We're continuing around the clock,
		but the amount of data is enormous.
		It's difficult to tell when we'll
		find the key that will tell us the
		machine's purpose -- maybe tomorrow,
		maybe next year, maybe never.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		I want to know the minute you find
		anything.

					DRUMLIN
		Of course, Ms. President.  We'll
		keep you fully informed.

That's the cue; most of the gathered begin to rise, make
their way to the door.  As Ellie collects her things
Drumlin accompanies her out -- then starts to shut the
door behind her --

					DRUMLIN
		The President wants to discuss a few
		matters in private.

As Ellie looks beyond she sees that Kitz, the Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs and Joss still remain.

					ELLIE
		But --

But it's too late.  The door closes on the inner circle.

INT.  NATIONAL SCIENCE MUSEUM - RECEPTION - NIGHT

Captains of industry, social editors, minority leaders.
At least for tonight, scientists are the hottest show in
town.

Ellie stands with a group of dignitaries, straining to
make small talk.  As she glances up a familiar face
catches her eye:  Peter Valerian.

He looks up, sees her too.  A beat... he whispers
something to the young woman he's standing with; she looks
up too.  They excuse themselves to Drumlin, make their way
over.

					PETER
		Ellie.

					ELLIE
		Peter.

Peter extends his hand.  They shake.

					PETER
		My wife Laura...

					ELLIE/LAURA
		Nice to meet you.

					PETER
			   (an awkward pause,
			    then)
		You look wonderful.

					ELLIE
		You dress up pretty good yourself.
			   (another awkward
			    silence)
		How's... the baby?

					LAURA
		Wonderful.  She's almost four now.

					ELLIE
		Really.  Well.  That's wonderful...
			   (a really horrible
			    silence)
		Well.  If you'll excuse me -- I'm
		paid to mingle... I don't believe I
		just said that.

Peter and Laura laugh.  Some of the tension is diffused.
Some.

					PETER
		It's good to see you, Ellie.

					ELLIE
		You too.

She manages a smile, quickly hurries away.

AT THE BAR

Ellie has never needed a drink more in her life.

					ELLIE
		Champagne please.

					JOSS (O.S.)
		Make that two.

Ellie turns to find Joss, looking terrific in his tux.

					JOSS
		Want to fight some more?

A long, extremely complex pause, then --

					ELLIE
		Yes.

INT.  ANOTHER PART OF MUSEUM - NIGHT

Their voices and FOOTSTEPS ECHO as they walk past old
spacecraft.  They sip their champagne.

					JOSS
		... What I'm curious about are the
		wilderness years.  You're out there
		all alone, no money, mocked by the
		skeptics.  It must have taken
		tremendous faith.

					ELLIE
		I'd say logic more than faith.  The
		odds were on my side.

					JOSS
		And what would you have done if the
		odds had gone against you?

					ELLIE
		I guess I would've felt sorry for
		the universe.

					JOSS
		Spoken like a true believer.

					ELLIE
		What about you?  Doesn't all of this
		shake your faith at all?

					JOSS
		How do you mean?

					ELLIE
		Well it's been a while, but I don't
		recall the Bible saying too much
		about alien civilizations.

					JOSS
			   (thinks, then)
		'My father's house has many
		mansions.'

					ELLIE
		Very smooth.  It's Palmer, right?
		Where I came from a palmer was a
		person who cheated at cards.
			   (as Joss laughs)
		Really though... the Bible describes
		a God who watches over one tiny
		world a few thousand years old.  I
		look out there and see a universe of
		hundreds of billions of galaxies,
		each with hundreds of billions of
		stars... I mean burn me for a
		heretic, but your God seems awfully
		small.

Joss looks at her -- challenged, intrigued.  Slowly:

					JOSS
		Who was it who said -- it was a
		scientist I think -- that one's
		sophistication is determined by the
		ability to tolerate paradox -- to
		hold contradictory ideas at the same
		time...

They approach a circular brass railing surrounding a
circular mosaic below; at its center is a Foucault
pendulum; a basketball-sized iron sphere suspended from
the ceiling.  They lean on the railing.

					JOSS
		... which I suppose is as good a
		definition of faith as any.
			   (getting an idea;
			    smiles)
		Care to test yours?

He takes her champagne glass, sets it down on the floor
alongside his, then climbs under the rail.  At her
surprise --

					JOSS
		It's okay.  I'm a preacher.

He offers her his hand.  She takes it, climbs under the
railing.  Joss helps her down into the circular space
below.

					JOSS
		Your 'faith' tells you that the
		distance a pendulum swings from the
		vertical can never get bigger, only
		smaller.

					ELLIE
		That's not faith, it's physics.  The
		second law of thermodynamics.

Joss places his arms around the metal ball and walks it
over to the outer rim of the circle, right in front of
Ellie's nose.

					JOSS
		And you believe this law with all
		your heart and soul.

					ELLIE
		And mind, yes.  What are you --

					JOSS
		So if I let the pendulum go, when it
		swings back you wouldn't flinch.

Ellie pauses.  Then, almost curiously.

					ELLIE
		No.

Joss lets go.  We see the ball fall away and reach the
opposite railing.  As it slows and then reverses direction
it appears to approach much faster than we expected.

					JOSS
		Don't lean forward.  Not even a
		hair.

As it careens towards her, the ball grows alarmingly in
size.  We understand completely when the pendulum almost
reaches her and she instinctively moves.  But Ellie can't
believe it.

					ELLIE
		I flinched.

					JOSS
		Only a tiny bit.  Even the most
		devout believer is allowed a little
		doubt.

					ELLIE
		That's not doubt.  That's four
		hundred years of science fighting a
		billion years of instinct.
			   (studying him)
		I always wondered what you religious
		types did with your free time.

					JOSS
		Now you know.

EXT.  NATIONAL SCIENCE MUSEUM - NIGHT

Stars shine down as Ellie and Joss walk along the portico.
The party continues inside.  The mood is subdued,
intimate.

					JOSS
		... It's an old story.  I grew up in
		South Boston, more or less on the
		streets.  By the time I was thirteen
		I'd tried my first hit of heroin, by
		fifteen I'd stopped using but I was
		dealing full-time.  By the time I
		was nineteen I decided I didn't want
		to live any more, at least not in a
		world like that.  One day I got on a
		bus; I got as far as Ohio before my
		money ran out, and after that I just
		kept walking.  Didn't eat, didn't
		sleep... just walked.  I ended up
		collapsing in a wheat field.  There
		was a storm... I woke up...
			   (beat)
		And that's about as far as words'll
		go.

					ELLIE
		Can you try?

					JOSS
		I had... an experience.  Of
		belonging.  Of unconditional love.
		And for the first time in my life I
		wasn't terrified, and I wasn't
		alone.

					ELLIE
			   (delicately)
		And there's no chance you had this
		experience simply because some part
		of you needed to have it?

					JOSS
		Look, I'm a reasonable person, and
		reasonably intelligent.  But this
		experience went beyond both.  For
		the first time I had to consider the
		possibility that intellect, as
		wonderful as it is, is not the only
		way of comprehending the universe.
		That it was too small and inadequate
		a tool to deal with what it was
		faced with.

					ELLIE
			   (a beat, then
			    softly)
		You may not believe this... but
		there's a part of me that wants more
		than anything to believe in your
		God.  To believe that we're all here
		for a purpose, that all this...
		means something.  But it's because
		that part of me wants it so badly
		that I'm so stubborn about making
		sure it isn't just self-delusion.
		Of course I want to know God if
		there is one... but it has to be
		real.  Unless I have proof how can I
		be sure?

					JOSS
		Do you love your parents?

					ELLIE
			   (startled)
		I never knew my mother.  My father
		died when I was nine.

					JOSS
		Did you love him?

					ELLIE
			   (softly)
		Yes.  Very much.

					JOSS
		Prove it.

Ellie stops and looks at him, truly disarmed.

And then, inside, a COMMOTION is heard.

INT.  NATIONAL SCIENCE MUSEUM - NIGHT

The party is suddenly and dramatically breaking up;
Senators on cell-phones, getting their coats.  Something
has happened.  Ellie finds Drumlin in the chaos, also on a
cell-phone; he hangs up as she approaches.

					ELLIE
		What is it?  What's happened?

					DRUMLIN
		We've cracked it.  Lunacharsky found
		it.

					ELLIE
		You mean --

					DRUMLIN
		You were right, Ellie.  You were
		right all along.

As Ellie stares at him --

								    CUT TO:

EXT.  U.N. PLAZA - DAY

Media, onlookers, crowd control -- and delegates from over
100 countries swarm as the World Machine Consortium is
called to session.  TV lights and demonstrations.  Huge
banners read "DON'T BUILD SATAN'S CHARIOT!" and "WHO WILL
SPEAK FOR EARTH?"

INT.  U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY HALL

Full house.  From various HEADSETS and MONITORS we hear
the POLYPHONY of a hundred simultaneous TRANSLATIONS.  On
a large screen behind the SECRETARY GENERAL'S podium and
on monitors all over the darkened room we see a single,
striking image:  A human figure inside a rotating
dodecahedron.

					SECRETARY GENERAL
		A human has been summoned.

In the darkened hall we FIND the U.S. delegation:  Kitz,
Joss, Drumlin -- and Ellie.  We begin to PUSH IN ON her --

					SECRETARY GENERAL
		Who will that person be?  How will
		this ambassador be chosen?

We see it in her eyes -- she wants to go, more than
anything.

INT.  U.N. - LATER

An INDIAN DELEGATE concludes her remarks.  In the audience
Ellie, deep in thought, isn't paying attention.

					INDIAN DELEGATE
		... of course none of us would be
		here if it weren't for the scientist
		who first discovered the history-
		making message and who has led this
		effort from the very beginning --
		Dr. Eleanor Arroway --

ELLIE

looks up in surprise.  The applause grows, becoming
deafening.  People motion for her to stand.  Dazed, she
does so.  The ovation continues.  Ellie leans over to
speak into her mike.

					ELLIE
		Um... thanks... Thanks very much.
		I'm not sure what I did to earn that
		response; I just happened to pick up
		the phone when they called.

A big laugh, more applause.  Ellie squints into the
lights.

EXT.  U.N. PLAZA - DUSK

Floodlights illuminate the building; if anything, there
are now more onlookers and media.  The woman BBC Reporter
and her camera crew try to shoot their report amid the
noise and chaos.

					BBC REPORTER
		... and as the curtain falls on the
		first day of the symposium the
		question remains:  who will build
		this machine, if it indeed will be
		built -- and if it is, who will be
		selected as the Earth's first
		ambassador to another world.  This
		is Marjorie Blake, B.B.C.3, at the
		U.N.

She holds --

					VOICE (O.S.)
		We're clear.

And the Reporter instantly sags.

INT.  U.N. LOBBY - SAME TIME

The event is breaking up; people making their way out.
Ellie waits for Drumlin to come out; goes after him --

					ELLIE
		David --

					DRUMLIN
		Ellie.

					ELLIE
		Do you have a minute -- ?

					DRUMLIN
		Actually I'm running late --

					ELLIE
		It'll just take a moment.

Drumlin reluctantly stops; Ellie takes a deep breath.

					ELLIE
		David... I know we've had our
		differences... but I've always
		thought of you as a fair man, even
		when we've disagreed -- and It's in
		that light I'm hoping you'll
		consider my request...

					DRUMLIN
		I don't understand.

					ELLIE
		I'm asking for your help, David.  I
		want to go.
			   (quickly)
		They'll need someone relatively
		young, unattached -- and probably a
		scientist.  As the President's
		Science Advisor you have enormous
		weight... I'm asking if you'll
		support my candidacy.

					DRUMLIN
			   (slowly)
		Ellie... you should know that I'm no
		longer the President's Science
		Advisor.

					ELLIE
		What?

					DRUMLIN
		As of three o'clock this afternoon.
		I submitted my resignation.

Ellie's eyes open wide as the depth of his betrayal dawns.

					ELLIE
		You...

					DRUMLIN
			   (hesitates, then)
		Excuse me, I'm late for a meeting.

He turns and walks away, leaving Ellie to stare after him.

					PRESIDENT LASKER (V.O.)
		... And as our parents did a
		generation before us...

INT.  U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY HALL

Packed to the rafters.  President Lasker makes the speech
of her lifetime, her booming, amplified voice going out to
the world.

					PRESIDENT LASKER
		... I believe we should dedicate
		ourselves, by the end of this decade
		-- to build this machine that our
		brothers from across the vastness of
		time and space have asked us to
		build -- !

In the darkened hall the American delegation sits
watching.  PUSH IN ON Ellie.  Drumlin.  The crowd roars.

THREE APACHE HELICOPTERS

fly low over the endless Texas landscape, blue-gray in the
light of pre-dawn.  Below a convoy of military vehicles
moves down an empty road.

					PRESIDENT LASKER (V.O.)
		To meet with courage and
		determination the challenges of this
		new day -- !

The CROWD ROARS LOUDER in VOICE OVER.

MOVING WITH the convoy...

AFS Berets sit stone-faced, barely visible.  UP ahead the
twinkling lights of an installation becomes visible.

The convoy passes through a security gate in the first
perimeter.  AFS officers check I.D. and cargo.  As the
convoy continues our VIEW begins to RISE, REVEALING three
more checkpoints beyond --

					PRESIDENT LASKER (V.O.)
		To greet with hope the dawn of this
		new Century!

Out VIEW continues to CLIMB, REVEALING an immense sprawl
of lights and buildings.  Concentric electric fences
surround the rambling facility; new roads are still being
added to old ones.  Encircling the installation is a vast
graveyard of discarded aircraft -- the detritus of
Twentieth Century war-making.  And in the center of it all
lies an enormous open area, its very emptiness full of
danger and promise.  Orange surveying FLAGS RUFFLE in the
BREEZE.

					PRESIDENT LASKER (V.O.)
		And to raise our voices to the
		heavens as one world, one people, in
		one ringing, defiant declaration --
		bring on the millennium!

The ROAR of the CROWD is deafening.

The sun begins to rise over the new Los Alamos.

								    HARD CUT TO:

INT.  OBSERVATION FACILITY (MACHINE, TEXAS) - DAY

An enormous multi-tiered room bustling with activity.  The
main floor consists of tables devoted to various
constituents of the international selection committee;
each area devoted to a different discipline:  medical,
psychological, philosophical, religious,
diplomatic/political, and military/communications.

The room is dominated by ten enormous overhead
viewscreens, each monitoring the activity of one of the
ten machine candidates while also displaying telemetry
readouts of their vital signs.  One candidate is
undergoing a psychological evaluation, another is visible
via infrared camera in a sensory deprivation tank; another
on a treadmill, another sleeping (EEG displayed); we also
catch brief glimpses of Ellie and Drumlin.  All are
watched with great interest by the committee members
swarming on the floor.

A level above the floor and looking out over it THROUGH
large floor to ceiling windows is the pool media area; a
group of REPORTERS and camera crews allowed limited
access, with blue-badged MACHINE SECURITY carefully
monitoring their every word.  As we MOVE THROUGH the
maelstrom we COME ACROSS a familiar face...

					REPORTER
		I'm here with Peter Valerian,
		recently named David Drumlin's
		replacement as Science Advisor to
		the President.  Doctor, there were
		loud complaints from the
		international community last week
		when it was announced that three of
		the ten candidates -- were to be
		Americans.  How do you defend that
		decision?

					PETER
			   (a bit nervous)
		I believe the response was somewhat
		disingenuous; when it was determined
		that national interests would be
		represented on a pay for play basis
		it was understood that the U.S., by
		shouldering close to one third of
		the financial burden, would be
		entitled to commensurate
		representation.

INSERT - TV MONITOR

					REPORTER (V.O.)
		You've addressed the political side
		of the coin but what about the
		larger issues?  On what basis do you
		choose a human being to represent
		humanity?

We begin to WIDEN REVEALING our location in the back of a
news van, crammed with broadcasting equipment.  An
engineer monitors the signal.

					PETER (V.O.)
		It's a good question.  Who do you
		send?  An athlete?  A religious
		leader?  A philosopher?  A soldier?
		If you don't know what the Olympic
		event will be, you send a decathlon
		champion --

					REPORTER (V.O.)
		And if the event turns out to be
		chess?

					PETER (V.O.)
		Yes... well, ultimately it was
		decided that the representative
		should be somebody fluent in the
		language the message was sent in --
		science.  If you'll excuse me --   

We have continued to WIDEN, finally PULLING OUT the back
of the van and CRANING UP to reveal --

EXT.  MEDIA CITY (MACHINE, TEXAS) - DAY

A vast encampment of vans, tents, reporters and satellite
dishes; print and video journalists from every nation.

Competing twenty-foot high skyboxes from various networks
overlook the action.  Our VIEW continues to CLIMB until
finally in the distance, wavy and hard to make out THROUGH
the LONG LENS, we can see a structure beginning to rise.
Our first glimpse of the machine.

					CNN REPORTER
		... and if you look closely you can
		just see the superstructure
		beginning to take shape.
		Construction on this trillion dollar
		plus effort has been complicated by
		the nearly unprecedented scale...

INT.  OVAL OFFICE - CONTINUOUS ACTION - DAY

President Lasker leans back, watching the same wavy image
on the television.  Also visible are a number of closed-
circuit monitors showing candidates.  Kitz standing behind
her, also watching.

								    CUT TO:

EXT.  MACHINE, TEXAS - SERIES OF SHOTS - DAWN

Bulldozers break earth as the human-designed support
structure continues to rise.

Trucks emerge from huge transport planes, carrying
enormous curved reflectors.

INT.  LAB (MACHINE, TEXAS)

Two robotic arms holding flasks of liquid are maneuvered
over a petri dish.  Scientists watch THROUGH the safe-
chamber window as a drop from each flask is carefully
placed in the dish.  Another robot arm takes the dish and
slides it under an electron microscope.

ELECTRON MICROSCOPE VIEW

Tiny crystals are forming in familiar, unearthly fractal
patterns.  Something is growing.

EXT.  MACHINE SITE - DAY

An enormous high-tech crucible has been erected; gantries
and support structures rise above it.

From behind a series of protective plastic veils we see
the same chemicals we saw in the lab again being carefully
mixed together, this time in much larger proportions.

WIDE SHOT - MACHINE SUPERSTRUCTURE - DAY

PULL BACK to reveal Ellie standing at the window of her
quarters, wearing a white jumpsuit.  She slowly folds her
street clothes as she looks out at the machine.

INT.  CENTRIFUGE ROOM - DAY

One by one the candidates are whipped around the
centrifuge, subjected to higher and higher G-forces.  A
hard-eyed NASA COMMANDER watches carefully, checks the
control panel.

INT.  OBSERVATION FACILITY - DAY

The two hundred members of the ISC watch each of the
candidates' reactions.  FEATURE Joss, studying the screens
intently --

For CAPTAIN JOHN RUSSELL, a classic chiseled Astronaut
type, this is as easy as breathing.

For Drumlin it's not quite that, but he takes it,
stoically.

A flaxen-haired male candidate -- the French semioticist
(JEAN-CLAUDE) -- looks like he's about to throw up.

Ellie seems to be enjoying her self tremendously.

INT.  CORRIDOR - DAY

Ellie, Drumlin and the eight other candidates, several
still a bit wobbly, follow the Commander down a corridor.
Jean-Claude wipes his face with a towel as he sounds off.

					JEAN-CLAUDE
		You realize how absurd this is.
		There are no precedents here; all
		training models are useless.  Trying
		to turn us all into astronauts is a
		pathetic waste of time.

The Commander turns to him.

					COMMANDER
		You know what, sir?  You're right.
		We have no idea whatsoever what one
		of you may encounter.  That leaves
		us with two options:  we can sit
		around and do nothing and hope for
		the best, even if that includes a
		few things that feel a little silly.
		And if one of these 'silly'
		exercises ends up saving your life
		I'll have done my job.

Jean-Claude raises an amused eyebrow, smokes his Gauloise.

HUGE MULTI-TENTACLED BEING

flashes on the screen, followed immediately by another and
another -- a rapid series of images of creatures waving
grotesque stalked appendages, horrific and bizarre.

ANGLE ON ELLIE

sitting alone in a single chair, watching the images flash
on an enormous screen.  Hardened.

INT.  OBSERVATION FACILITY - CONTINUOUS ACTION - DAY

A panel of PSYCHOLOGISTS closely monitor Ellie's reaction
on the monitors.  A PROJECT OFFICIAL approaches, watches
the monitors as he sips from a Styrofoam cup.

					PROJECT OFFICIAL
		How long now?

					PSYCHOLOGIST
		Going on five hours.

					PROJECT OFFICIAL
		Ugly little suckers.

					PSYCHOLOGIST
		Yeah.  And those are only the ones
		that live on the human body.

We MOVE AWAY FROM them to find another figure, standing
silently watching the screens.  Joss.

INT.  CONFERENCE ROOM - SERIES OF DISSOLVES - DAY/NIGHT

as we CIRCLE the table, CONDENSING MONTHS of arguments and
discussions.  Trays of uneated food pile up, whiteboards
become colored with scribbled questions --

					NIGERIAN CANDIDATE
		... but even if somehow it has
		faster than light capacity it is
		still twenty-six years to get to
		Vega --

					ELLIE
		That's from the point of view of
		someone on Earth -- from the
		traveler's point of view it'll only
		seem like two years...

					RUSSELL
		... the fact is, nobody here knows
		what's gonna happen when one of us
		enters that thing.  We can guess all
		we want, but in the end... we just
		don't know...

INTERCUT WITH:

INT.  OBSERVATION FACILITY - SERIES OF DISSOLVES

The members of the philosophical committee watch, make
notes, argue passionately.  The discussion continue on
screen:

					DRUMLIN (V.O.)
			   (on screen)
		... Two years is still a hell of a
		long time -- and as far as we can
		tell there aren't any provisions in
		the machine design for storing food,
		water, even air...

					ELLIE
		... I can't believe they wouldn't
		take something as basic as our
		biological needs into account...

					RUSSIAN CANDIDATE
		Based on what evidence?  As far as
		we know all they know about us is
		what they've learned from watching
		three minutes of German
		television... even if they do not
		mean to do damage they may do so
		inadvertently.  Look at the impact
		they've had on the world by simply
		sending the message...

					ELLIE (V.O.)
			   (on screen)
		... we're not looking at this from
		their point of view.  It's the first
		time this has happened to us but
		it's highly unlikely that's true for
		them as well.  Chances are they've
		been doing this for thousands if not
		millions of years...

								    CUT TO:

SAME - REAL TIME

					DRUMLIN
		They knew our level of development.
		If, as you say, they've done this
		many times they'd be well aware of
		the implications.

					ELLIE
		Maybe they are.  Maybe this is all
		part of the package.  The building
		of the machine has demanded
		international cooperation on an
		unprecedented scale.  Maybe
		requiring us to come together in
		this way was, in effect, part of the
		plan.

					JEAN-CLAUDE
		Very well.  Assume this is true.
		Assume they have only the best of
		intentions.  Suppose they decide to
		just step in and solve all our
		problems for us.  You have no
		objection to them so flagrantly
		intervening in human affairs?

					ELLIE
		We've just lived through a century
		of incredible violence and self-
		destruction.  Do you call it
		'interventionist' when you stop a
		toddler from walking in front of a
		truck?

Before anyone can reply an out-of-breath ASSISTANT enters.

					ASSISTANT
		Sorry to bother you but they just
		got some tape in from Japan -- I
		think you're gonna want to see this.

INT.  MAIN TESTING HANGER (MACHINE, TEXAS) - DAY

The vast hanger serves as home for a series of new labs
and testing areas -- state of the art, gleaming and high-
tech.  Engineers, scientists, security, and technicians
wearing blue jumpsuits and security badges are everywhere.

					FEMALE P.A. VOICE (V.O.)
		Component test C-4-90 commencing in
		T-minus three minutes.  All
		personnel clear bay twelve; repeat,
		clear bay twelve --

We FIND Ellie.  Drumlin and the rest huddled around a
large monitor.  Also present is TEAM LEADER -- cool,
level-headed, solid.  The ultimate line producer.

					TEAM LEADER
		This just came in from systems
		integrations in Hokkaido.

He presses play.  The monitor shows a large, apparently
empty lucite chamber.  A clock showing tenths and
hundredths of a second is inset into the screen.

					TEAM LEADER
		The chamber contains an exotic
		substance manufactured according to
		message specifications.  In its
		normal state it appears as you see
		it, a transparent gas which is
		apparently breathable.  As you'll
		see, it also has some other...
		unusual properties.

A Japanese technician places his hand inside a waldo,
picks up a REVOLVER.  He aims it into the chamber,
FIRES --

-- as then we see the bullet slow, coming to a dead stop
in mid-air.  We see the same thing again, this time in
slow motion.  As we watch, the air in the chamber seems to
thicken around the bullet, changing from a gas to liquid,
from gel-like colloidal to diamond-hard solid in a tenth
of a second.

					TEAM LEADER
		The substance appears to have
		intelligent multiphasic properties;
		able to shift states at will.  We
		believe it may function as some sort
		of transport medium.

					DRUMLIN
		Now I know why the Japanese gave up
		having a candidate in exchange for
		licensing rights...

					ELLIE
		How does it work?

					TEAM LEADER
		We have no idea.  According to all
		known physical laws it shouldn't.

					ELLIE
			   (murmurs)
		Magic...

					TEAM LEADER
			   (looks at her, then)
		What you haven't seen is what
		occurred when a technician went into
		the chamber to retrieve the
		bullet... As I said, the substance
		had already been deemed breathable
		after extensive tests on laboratory
		animals.

					DRUMLIN
		What happened?

The Team Leader pushes play.  We see the action as he
describes it:

					TEAM LEADER
		There was apparently an aqueous
		residue covering part of the chamber
		floor.  The technician slips.  As he
		falls the substance hardens around
		him, breaking his fall...

We see the technician as his fall slows -- and then he
suddenly convulses -- and then stops, suspended at an odd
angle slightly above the ground.  He doesn't move.  Ellie,
Drumlin and the other candidates watch in horror.

					TEAM LEADER
		... and solidifying in his lungs and
		bloodstream, killing him instantly.

					ELLIE
			   (shaken)
		Maybe... maybe it was an anomalous
		reaction.  Maybe when it's correctly
		integrated with other components of
		the machine...

She looks again to the eerie sight of the suspended dead
technician.  Team Leader snaps off the monitor.

					TEAM LEADER
		Maybe.  Unfortunately that's all we
		have is maybes, increasing
		exponentially every day.  This
		machine is now building itself as
		much as we're building it.  Almost
		as if it's growing, evolving...

They all take this in... then instinctively look out the
hanger doors at the structure taking shape in the field
beyond, now rising to a height of twelve stories.  We PUSH
IN ON it...

					TEAM LEADER (O.S.)
		It's scary, folks.  We're like
		cavemen building a nuclear warhead.
		We are constructing the most
		advanced, dangerously powerful...
		whateveritis in the history of the
		planet and we don't have a fucking
		clue how we're doing it.

CLOSE ON WHITE TABLETOP

A very sleek, low profile helmet is set down; four tiny
lenses visible near the temples.

					PROJECT LEADER (V.O.)
		Personal recording unit.

INT.  CLEAN ROOM - DAY

Ellie, Drumlin sit around a table with other candidates.

					PROJECT LEADER
		Normal, infrared, ultraviolet,
		stereoscopic lenses, digital
		microchip good for thousands of
		hours of recording, state of the
		art, very tough, casting good to
		15,000 degrees plus or minus.

					DRUMLIN
		15,000 degrees... isn't that a
		little excessive?

					PROJECT LEADER
			   (hesitates)
		Well, sir... the thinking was...

A Project Official at the back of the room steps forward.

					PROJECT LEADER
		The thinking was that even if the
		passenger were to encounter
		conditions that were... extreme...
		there still might be a chance to
		retrieve the helmet.

INT.  OBSERVATION FACILITY

The members of the committee intently study the
candidate's reaction on the monitors; Drumlin, Ellie.
Captain Russell frowns.

EXT.  AMMUNITION RANGE - DAY

A hand holds a small, unassuming object.  It looks a
little like a car alarm beeper you'd find on a key chain.

					PROJECT LEADER
		Lightweight, easily concealable...

Project Leader points the DEVICE at a six-inch thick steel
target five hundred yards away.  FIRES.

The target is instantly and efficiently vaporized.
Project Leader turns to the assembled candidates.

					PROJECT LEADER
		... and good for approximately one
		thousand uses.

					ELLIE
		Does it dice and make julienne
		fries?

					PROJECT OFFICIAL
		You have a question, Dr. Arroway?

					ELLIE
		I question the thinking behind
		sending the first ambassador to
		another civilization in armed --
		basically announcing our intentions
		are hostile.

					PROJECT OFFICIAL
		It's designed purely as a defensive
		device.  Call it a reasonable
		precaution.

					ELLIE
		Call it xenophobic paranoia.  Don't
		you see the absolute absurdity of
		this?  This isn't about them, it's
		about us -- our violence, our fear
		and mistrust --

					PROJECT OFFICIAL
		Dr. Arroway, you are entitled to
		your opinion.  But we feel quite
		strongly that it would by both
		irresponsible and naive to send a
		human being into a completely
		unknown, completely uncontrollable
		situation absolutely defenseless.

					ELLIE
		Y'know what?  Fine.  I guess if we
		want them to know the truth about
		who we are there's no quicker way to
		show them.

INT.  ELLIE'S QUARTERS - PRE-DAWN

Ellie walks out of the bathroom in her robe, brushing her
teeth.  She sees an envelope slipped under the door.  She
picks it up and opens it, glances over the typed agenda.
Her eye comes to something that stops her.

INT.  SMALL BRIEFING ROOM

Dark, windowless, a single lamp on.  Ellie waits at a
small table, not sure what to expect.

After a moment the door opens as a PHYSICIAN enters, 50's,
paternal.

					PHYSICIAN
		Good morning, Dr. Arroway.

					ELLIE
		Good morning.

He sits down opposite her.  Looks her over for a moment...
then carefully removes a small pillbox from his jacket
pocket.  He opens it, removes a small red pill and sets it
down on the table.  Ellie looks up at him.

					PHYSICIAN
		We've been giving them to the
		astronauts since the first days of
		the Mercury program; of course it's
		never been made public.  It's fast
		and painless.  As soon as it hits
		the oral mucosa it starts to work --
		a matter of seconds, really.

INT.  MONITORING ROOM - DAY

Joss and the other members of the committee all study
Ellie's reaction intently on the monitor.  The same scene
is playing out simultaneously with the other nine
candidates on other monitors.

					ELLIE (V.O.)
			   (on monitor, dryly)
		You want me to travel all the way to
		Vega to commit suicide?

					PHYSICIAN (V.O.)
			   (on monitor)
		Doctor, despite your enduring faith
		that the civilization in question
		has only our best interests at
		heart, even you have to admit
		there's a possibility they might
		turn out to be... less than benign.

BACK TO ROOM

					PHYSICIAN
		And even if they aren't, something
		else may go wrong.  There may be an
		unforeseen mechanical failure.  You
		may be marooned, unable to return.
		There are a thousand reasons we can
		think of for the occupant of the
		machine to have this with them --
		but mostly it's for the reasons we
		can't think of.

BACK TO MONITORS

Joss.  Watching.  We LEAVE him and onscreen Ellie and MOVE
TO Captain Russell's monitor.  He is also looking at the
pill --

EXT.  HOUSTON SUBURBAN HOME - BACK YARD - DAY

Scores of REPORTERS around a back yard swingset where
Russell holds his LITTLE GIRL.

					REPORTER
			   (mike in her face)
		Say it again?  What did you tell
		your daddy?

					RUSSELL'S LITTLE GIRL
		I don't want you to go.

					RUSSELL
		Nothing would give me more pride
		than to represent my country and my
		world.  But what do you say to that?

INT.  ELLIE'S QUARTERS - NIGHT

Ellie sits on her bed watching the replay of the Russell
interview on TV.  Studies the Little Girl's smiling face
as she hugs her dad.

EXT.  MACHINE - RESIDENTIAL AREA - DAY

Ellie pulls out in her T-Bird.  As she drives toward the
perimeter she sees a figure walking toward her.  Joss.  He
sticks out a thumb.

EXT.  TEXAS COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Ellie tears down the highway, wind whipping her hair.
Joss is pushed back in his seat, enjoying himself
immensely.  He yells over the WIND'S ROAR:

					JOSS
		You like to drive fast.

Ellie nods.  Floors it.

EXT.  MOUNTAINS - DAY

A beautiful meadow, a trickling stream.  Ellie and Joss
walk.

					ELLIE
		So.  Is this kosher fraternizing
		with the enemy like this?

					JOSS
		Some of my best friends are
		scientists.

					ELLIE
		I was referring to the selectees
		mingling with the selectors.

					JOSS
			   (pausing)
		Some of my best friends are
		scientists.
			   (as Ellie smiles)
		They're saying the machine is alive.

					ELLIE
		Not exactly.  It has organic
		qualities, but we don't really
		understand how they're integrated
		with the mechanical systems.

					JOSS
		Maybe you're creating a monster.

					ELLIE
		I don't think so.

					JOSS
		Why?

					ELLIE
		It's too... elegant.  The degree of
		economy is extraordinary; it's
		really the next logical step... Even
		on Earth technology has always
		aspired to a condition of nature.
		D.N.A. outclasses any computer we
		can come up with; the human body is
		the most exquisitely designed
		machine imaginable.

					JOSS
		In other words, God is one hell of
		an engineer.

					ELLIE
			   (sideways smile)
		In other words.

They sit under a tree, pick at the grass.

					JOSS
		Relativity.  Explain this to me one
		more time... even if you traveled
		near the speed of light, when you
		came back --

					ELLIE
		If you came back.

					JOSS
			   (after a beat)
		If you came back... you'd only be
		four years older -- but over 50
		years would have passed on Earth.

					ELLIE
		Something like that.

					JOSS
		And everybody you care about would
		be dead and buried.

Ellie looks up at him.

					ELLIE
		If you came back.  If you survived
		at all.  Which it's pretty certain
		you wouldn't.

					JOSS
		You're willing to die for this.

					ELLIE
		It's what my whole life's been...
		aimed at; the only thing that's
		given it a sense of purpose.

She looks away.  A beat, then:

					ELLIE
		I read your book.

					JOSS
		Really.

					ELLIE
		Losing Faith:  The Search For
		Meaning In the Age of Reason.
		Catchy.

					JOSS
		What'd you think?

					ELLIE
		I'm more interested in the story
		behind the story... How a young man
		goes from living on the streets of
		South Boston to being the best-
		selling media figure rubbing elbows
		with the President.

					JOSS
			   (after a pause)
		I won't deny I was ambitious.  When
		I had my... experience... I wanted
		to tell my story to as many people
		as possible.  I'm the first to admit
		that process included making some
		compromises.
			   (still seems
			    troubled; then)
		You didn't answer my question.

					ELLIE
		I thought it was well-written.
		Heart-felt.  And a little bit
		naive... But that's just the enemy's
		perspective.

					JOSS
		I don't consider you the enemy,
		Ellie.  I'm not 'out to get'
		technology.  I only ask the
		question:  Does it have to have all
		the answers?  I look out there and I
		see so much emptiness... People are
		so starved for meaning, and it's
		something they just don't seem to be
		getting from science.

					ELLIE
		Did you ever stop to think that
		maybe that isn't science's fault,
		but meaning's?

					JOSS
		I don't follow.

					ELLIE
			   (quietly)
		Maybe the reason people are having
		trouble finding meaning isn't
		because science has obscured it...
		maybe it's just revealed it isn't
		there.

Now it's Joss' turn to be disarmed.  He looks at her;
softly:

					JOSS
		Do you really believe your life is
		meaningless?

					ELLIE
			   (looking away)
		I don't know.  But as a scientist I
		have to consider that possibility.

					JOSS
		And yet you're willing to die for
		this cause, the one thing that's
		given your life a sense of purpose.
		Don't you see the contradiction
		here -- ?

					ELLIE
		It's getting late...

					JOSS
		What are you so afraid of, Ellie?

					JOSS
		You're shaking.
			   (fascinated)
		You're the paradox here, Ellie.  So
		incredibly brilliant, and yet...
			   (softly)
		What does it feel like to understand
		everything in the universe except
		yourself?

She stares at him -- Joss, instantly regretting his
words --

					JOSS
		Ellie --

					ELLIE
		It's late.  We should go back.

She stands and starts walking briskly down the hill.

EXT.  MEDIA CITY - NIGHT

The skyboxes lit up, the satellite dishes aimed at the
stars.  Grips smoke, play cards.  Up in a skybox a
reporter vamps.

					REPORTER (V.O.)
		... With the machine nearing
		completion and final testing
		beginning next week, tomorrow's
		round of closed-door I.S.C.
		candidate interviews would bring to
		a close this long chapter of the
		machine drama...

INT.  MAIN AUDITORIUM (MACHINE, TEXAS) - DAY

Ellie is seated alone at a long table, opposite the entire
ISC.  The atmosphere is formal and tense.

					ELLIE
			   (reading from her
			    notes)
		... Another question I would ask
		would be a very simple one.  How did
		you do it?  How did you evolve as
		far as you have and not destroy
		yourselves?

					JOSS
		An excellent question, Doctor.  But
		what if we don't like the answer?

					ELLIE
		How do you mean?

					JOSS
		What if their answer is, 'Oh, that's
		easy.  A thousand years ago our
		world was in terrible shape, our
		population out of control, violent
		crime, no food... so we called a
		general council and decided to
		eliminate the anit-social.  The
		weak.  The sick.  The unwanted.  And
		ever since we've been doing great.'

					PROJECT OFFICIAL
		I think Reverend Joss raises an
		excellent point.  I believe we
		should discuss the formation of a
		panel to review any potentially
		delicate communications before... am
		I amusing you, Dr. Arroway?

Ellie is smiling grimly to herself, shaking her head.

					ELLIE
		You kill me, you really do.  The
		first truly global, a-political
		event in history and you can't wait
		to spin it.

					PROJECT OFFICIAL
		How would you propose we handle it,
		Doctor?

					ELLIE
		I guess I'd say I trust us enough to
		believe our response would be
		something to the effect of, thanks
		for the advice, but no thanks.  But
		to dilute or censor the truth, for
		whatever reason --

					PROJECT OFFICIAL
		Nobody is proposing we censor the
		truth here, Doctor.  We're simply
		talking about putting a mechanism in
		place --

					ELLIE
		For managing the truth.  But the
		truth won't be managed, sir.  It
		stops being the truth the moment you
		try.

OFF Joss --

SAME SCENE - LATER

Ellie is making her final, prepared remarks to the
committee.

					ELLIE
		I don't claim to be a perfect
		example of the human species... far
		from it.  But I think, paradoxically,
		that's my strength as a candidate.
		Because I think we need to share the
		truth of who we are with them -- our
		strengths --

Her eyes suddenly fall on Joss, looking at her from his
seat on the panel.  A timeless beat --

					ELLIE
		-- and our weaknesses.  To go to
		them openly, nakedly, and say these
		are our dreams, these are our fears.
		What I'm saying, ladies and
		gentlemen, is that I believe we
		should make this journey with
		honesty and integrity or not at all.

The words are spoken with passion and conviction, but
something tells us this isn't playing in Peoria.  Ellie
looks uncertain.

SAME SCENE - LATER

Drumlin in the chair.  Reassuring, smooth -- statesman-
like.

					DRUMLIN
		Ladies and gentlemen, I come to you
		today not only as a scientist, but
		as a politician -- an occupation
		for which I make no apologies.
		With all due respect to Doctor
		Arroway's talk of naked honesty and
		integrity -- high ideals, to be
		sure -- I believe it would be
		foolish and, in fact, dangerous to
		ignore the fact that what we are
		dealing with here is a political
		situation -- the most political of
		situations -- and one that must be
		examined in that context.

INT.  AIR FORCE ONE (40,000 FEET) - DAY

The President, watching Drumlin on closed circuit.  An
aide hands her a cup of coffee.  She sips it, her eyes
never leaving the screen.

					DRUMLIN (V.O.)
			   (on screen)
		The image we put forth, the
		impressions we give may determine
		precedent for decades if not
		millennia to come.

BACK TO AUDITORIUM - TIGHT ON DRUMLIN

					DRUMLIN
		We must be optimistic enough to hope
		for the best -- and wise and
		experienced enough to prepare for
		the worst.

A murmur of assent from the ISC.  Drumlin continues.

					DRUMLIN
		Ladies and gentlemen.  I'm proud of
		what we've achieved as a species and
		a civilization.  I would hate to see
		all that we stand for, all that
		we've fought for for a thousand
		generations, slighted, taken
		advantage of, or God forbid, done in
		by the fact that at the final hour
		we chose to send a representative
		who didn't put our best interests
		first.

EXT.  MACHINE, TEXAS - DUSK

Ellie walks out.  She stands looking at the machine in the
distance.  It is almost complete; the enormous gantries
partly obscuring the gigantic sphere that is the machine's
outer benzel.  Another figure stands nearby, smoking in
the shadows.

					JEAN-CLAUDE
		I am become death; the destroyer of
		worlds.
			   (takes a puff)
		I wonder if this is how Oppenheimer
		felt on the eve of the first A-bomb
		test.

Ellie steps closer.  The Frenchman smiles at Ellie, offers
her a cigarette.  She shakes her head.

					ELLIE
		I'd say this is slightly different.

					JEAN-CLAUDE
		Perhaps.  But on the off-chance that
		it is a 'doomsday device' of some
		kind, I plan to be very far away
		from your lovely Texas when it is
		activated.

					ELLIE
		I thought you were here because you
		want to go.

					JEAN-CLAUDE
		I do.  More than anything.  But I am
		also a realist.  Soon this... what
		is your charming term -- ?  Dog and
		pony show will finally be over, and
		I will go home.

					ELLIE
		You're implying that the whole
		selection process is a sham?

					JEAN-CLAUDE
			   (smiles)
		I think it is your naivete I like
		best about you, Eleanor.  Oh,
		there'll be a worldwide protest, but
		we all knew it from the very
		beginning.  You Americans discovered
		the signal, you led the decryption
		effort.  The machine is being built
		on your home soil... Of course the
		passenger will be an American,
		chosen by Americans.
			   (expansively)
		Anyway, it is what the whole world
		wants, no?  This is the big show.
		The sort you put on better than
		anyone.  It's good marketing.  It's
		good casting.  It's the American way.

EXT.  LANDING STRIP (MACHINE, TEXAS) - NIGHT

Air Force One sits on the tarmac.  The lights inside are
burning.

INT.  AIR FORCE ONE - NIGHT

President Lasker, Kitz, Joss and Valerian sit around a
table.

					KITZ
		It's not even close.  Arroway may be
		a good, even great scientist, but
		she's politically tone-deaf and a
		loose cannon.  She leaked the
		message without so much as a nod to
		the D.O.D. or N.S.C., and I don't
		think anybody here would say
		diplomacy's her strong suit.
		Drumlin may not be as glamorous a
		choice, but he's reliable,
		patriotic, sound.  He has impeccable
		scientific credentials.  And I think
		he'd be perceived by the public as
		the safer choice.

The President taps her cigarette, turns to Peter.

					PETER
		It's her discovery, Ms. President.
		She deserves to go.

The President frowns.  Turns to Joss.  Slowly.

					JOSS
		I've been watching and getting to
		know Eleanor Arroway for some time
		now... and I can say unequivocally,
		that I have never before met a human
		being with such extraordinary faith.
		In humanity... and in our right to a
		place of importance in the cosmos.

Peter watches Joss as he speaks, and as he listens, we
hear too:  There's more than simple admiration for Ellie
in Joss' voice.

					JOSS
		I believe that the person we're
		selecting will play a crucial role
		in humanity's future.  I believe
		that when this person comes back --
		if they come back -- they will be
		seen as being anointed by a higher
		intelligence, and may well emerge as
		one of the most important people on
		Earth.  It may be true that Eleanor
		Arroway is not a perfect human being
		-- but I believe her honesty, her
		purity, and her integrity to be
		unimpeachable.  Ms. President --
		aren't those qualities that this
		representative should embody?  Are
		we seriously considering choosing a
		man who openly claims that he stands
		for nothing more than political
		self-interest to be the one person
		to represent the human race?

The President.  Unreadable.

INT.  MAIN AUDITORIUM (MACHINE, TEXAS)

The SRO press conference/media event -- the Superbowl,
Olympics and Oscar night all rolled into one.  Government
officials, diplomats, ISC.  The seven remaining candidates
(the Frenchman conspicuously absent) sit in the front row.
Ellie.  Drumlin.

The SECRETARY GENERAL of the U.N. at the podium.

					SECRETARY GENERAL
		The International Selection
		Committee has come to a decision,
		ladies and gentlemen, and may I say,
		I think it has been a great
		oversight on the part of the Vegans
		not to build a few more seats on the
		boat...
			   (off polite laughter)
		But only one human being can go, and
		that person, the person we feel best
		represents the world, is the
		candidate from the United States of
		America, Doctor David Drumlin.

Drumlin closes his eyes in triumph, a long, deep breath.

Ellie.  Expressionless.

Joss.

								    CUT TO:

INT.  ELLIE'S ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON

Ellie is packing.  A discreet KNOCK at the door.  Drumlin
enters.  An awkward beat.  He notices the suitcase.

					DRUMLIN
		You aren't staying?

					ELLIE
		This... seemed best.

					DRUMLIN
		Right.  Well.

					ELLIE
			   (after a beat)
		Good luck, David.

Drumlin pauses.  Nods, starts to go... then stops at the
door.

					DRUMLIN
		Ellie... we both know that if I was
		any kind of a man, I never would've
		entered this race.  That I would
		have told the President straight
		out:  Helen, Eleanor Arroway is
		naive and strident and an enormous
		pain in the ass... but she's got
		more courage and intelligence than
		the rest of us put together.  That
		more then anyone else on the planet,
		she's earned this.  And that she
		should be the one to go because
		she's the best we have.
			   (beat)
		But that's not who I am.  I like to
		think it's who I might've been if
		things had gone a different way;
		that I might have been worthy,
		really worthy of what I've been
		given...
			   (shrugs)
		You do what you have to do.  And in
		the end, as with everything, it
		comes down to power.  And it isn't
		fair...

					ELLIE
			   (quietly)
		What would you have me say, David?

					DRUMLIN
		Nothing.  I guess I just wanted to
		thank you.

					ELLIE
		Thank you?

					DRUMLIN
			   (nods)
		For giving me a chance, just for a
		moment, to feel what it must be like
		to be you.

And he turns and goes, closing the door behind him.

								    CUT TO:

EXT.  SMALL TOWN (TEXAS) - DAWN

Local residents and children watch in awe as a huge convoy
of super-human scale passes through the one-street town.

EXT.  MACHINE SITE - DAY

The convoy heads through the gates and arrives at the
machine site.  Enormous winches are wheeled in place;
cables attached.

EXT.  RESIDENTIAL COMPLEX (MACHINE) - DAY

Ellie packs the last of her things in the back of her
T-Bird.  She notices the activity at the machine site,
keeps packing.

INT.  MACHINE CONTROL ROOM - DAY

Large windows, monitors look out on the machine
superstructure.  Drumlin is surrounded by technicians;
Team Leader is at the main console; several of the ex-
candidates chat, smoke in back.  Kent sucking on a
lollipop.

EXT.  HIGHWAY - DAY

Ellie ROARS down the deserted highway, her hair blowing.
She floors it.

EXT.  MACHINE SITE - SERIES OF SHOTS - DAY

The enormous erbium dowels are hoisted into place.

Positioned at the side of the outer benzel and aligned for
insertion.

Finally in place, an ALARM SOUNDS; all workers begin to
leave the area of the superstructure.

INT.  CONTROL ROOM - DAY

The technicians fit Drumlin with a high-tech video
headset.

EXT.  ROADSIDE BAR - DAY

Somewhere in West Texas.  Ellie pulls up in cloud a of
dust.

EXT.  MACHINE SITE - DAY

We see a technician in a hard-hat walking towards one of
the superstructure's elevators.  As he approaches, we
recognize Joseph, now clean-shaven, wearing spectacles.

INT.  ROADSIDE BAR - DAY

HANK WILLIAMS ON the JUKEBOX.  Ellie sits on a barstool.
The BARTENDER approaches, recognizes her -- she sees he
sees -- and then he nods, treats her like any other
customer.

					BARTENDER
		What can I get you, pretty lady?

					ELLIE
		Beer, please.

EXT.  MACHINE SITE - DAY

Joseph rides the elevator up the gantry.  Under his vest
we can see his body wrapped with plastic explosives.

EXT.  MEDIA CITY - DAY

Business as usual.  Reporters nap under flapping tents.

INT.  CONTROL ROOM - DAY

Everyone watches as the enormous dowel is positioned
beside a giant sphere of the machine and prepared for
insertion.  Then Team Leader spots something on one of the
monitors -- he enlarges the image -- Joseph climbing onto
one of the dowels.  Team Leader pushes the abort button.
ALARMS SOUND as the controllers panic -- Drumlin looks
around in confusion --

JOSEPH

stands next to the sphere, puts a hand out to touch it.  A
last look up to heaven -- and then he EXPLODES in a BALL
of FLAME --

INT.  CONTROL ROOM - DAY

Everyone freezes -- a timeless moment... and then, as the
smoke begins to clear, we see the damage to the machine is
minimal.  Drumlin exhales.  Everyone breathes a nervous
sigh of relief --

-- and then one of the MONITORS begins to RATTLE.

EXT.  MACHINE SITE - DAY

The entire SUPERSTRUCTURE begins to RUMBLE.  A giant
erbium dowel shudders downwards, crashing into the sphere
and ripping a hole in the machine.  The controllers stare
as another EXPLOSION rents the bottom of the machine,
weakening the support structure.  Gantries begin to
collapse around it as the giant sphere falls off its
support --

EXT.  MACHINE OUTER PERIMETER - DAY

Workers stare in amazement -- and then start running --

EXT.  MEDIA CITY - DAY

Reporters look up at the SOUNDS of DESTRUCTION --

EXT.  MACHINE SITE

The SPHERE IMPLODES in a blinding flash of light.  Time
and gravity seem suspended as debris gets sucked into an
eerily vacuole of nothingness -- as if for a moment, the
space around the machine is turning inside out -- and then
the VACUOLE EXPLODES in a unearthly FIREBALL of nuclear
proportions.

WIDE SHOT

The fireball begins to expand, the shockwave spreading out
to envelop the entire facility.  Bodies are tossed through
the air like rag dolls.  The blast wave approaches the
control tower --

INT.  CONTROL TOWER - DAY

The occupants stare in horror as the shock wave approaches
-- Team Leader -- Drumlin -- it hits --

INT.  ROADSIDE BAR - LATE AFTERNOON

A TV above the bar plays an afternoon talk show
("Intergalactic Fashions -- today on Geraldo") as Ellie
nurses her second beer.

Suddenly a LOW RUMBLE is heard, barely on the threshold of
sound.  GLASSES RATTLE in their racks -- and then the TV
GOES OFF, followed by the lights and the JUKEBOX.  PUSH IN
ON Ellie as she looks up at the frightened Bartender --

					ELLIE
		How far away are we from --

					BARTENDER
		Two hundred miles.

SERIES OF SHOTS - AFTERMATH

An eerie silence.  The remains of the superstructure burns
quietly.

Media city lays in ruins; the toppled skyboxes blaze.
Dozens of flaming satellite dishes point impotently at the
sky.

... And, nearby, Drumlin's video headset, quietly
smoldering.

								    FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

EXT.  ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY - DAY

A light drizzle falls.  President Lasker reaches down to a
large marble slab and ignites an eternal flame that wavers
in the wind and drizzle before burning fiercely.

ANGLE

MUFFLED DRUMS ROLL.  A state funeral for all who perished
in the machine disaster.  Peter, his wife beside him;
Joss, quietly praying.  Ellie stands alone.

HADDEN'S MONITOR WALL (LOCATION UNKNOWN)

CNN coverage of the funeral continues.  As we SLOWLY
WIDEN, the next monitor over shows footage of the
destruction at Machine, Texas; FBI sharpshooters and
police firing into a run-down motel; an amateur video of
Joseph's suicide note.  He is spookily well-spoken, calm:

					JOSEPH (V.O.)
			   (on monitor)
		What we do, we do for the good of
		all mankind.  This will not be
		understood, not now, but the
		apocalypse to come will vindicate
		our faith...

We CONTINUE TO WIDEN as a pair of familiar glasses float
INTO VIEW; a gnarled hand plucks them from mid-air as
Hadden turns to look out a panorama window showing a
breathtaking view of Earth from 250 miles out in space.

EXT.  EARTH ORBIT - 250 MILES UP

A privatized space shuttle breaks through the atmosphere
and heads towards the Russian space station Mir -- which
now bears the Hadden Industries logo.

INT.  MIR DOCKING BAY (SPACE)

The shuttle nestles with a CLANK against the station.  Air
floods the chamber and the locked door opens.

The Japanese Major Domo we saw at Hadden's plane appears
in the hatchway; Ellie a moment later.  He points toward
the other end of the airlock.  Ellie starts to glide-walk
through, glancing back to see the Major Domo gesturing to
three, very young, very beautiful women with empty eyes.
Ellie keeps moving...

INT.  MIR SPACE STATION - STATEROOM/STUDY

Compact but luxurious.  Earth is visible through a
panorama window.  Hadden floats before it, curled up with
arthritis like a dying insect.  Ellie moves beside him.

					HADDEN
		A sunrise and a sunset every forty-
		five minutes.

					ELLIE
		It's so... small.

					HADDEN
		Poor, tired, spinning girl... How we
		feasted on her.  And now that we've
		had our fill and given her a giant
		dose of the clap... we're pulling
		out.
			   (points)
		That's Paris, where my daughter was
		born.  Moscow, where gangsters rule
		the night and I gave up smoking.  So
		many battles, so many lives... all
		that sturm, and drang.  As if it
		never happened.  If it weren't for a
		few power grids, you wouldn't know
		we existed.

The sun begins to set.  They watch the stunning transition
as night comes on.  The Boston-New York corridor appears
as a glittering necklace of light; a tropical storm brews
in the Caribbean.  Ellie points to a sparkling glow in the
Pacific.

					ELLIE
		What's that?

					HADDEN
		Japanese squid fleet.  They use
		lights to attract them to the
		surface... then turn them into
		sushi.

Ellie traces the magical glow with her finger on the
window.

					ELLIE
		It looks like pixie dust...
			   (beat)
		Kent would've given anything to see
		this.  David, too.

					HADDEN
		Yes.  A shame.  Still... it'd be
		worse if they died for nothing.

					ELLIE
		What are you talking about?  It's
		over.

					HADDEN
		Oh, not quite yet.  At least for
		their sake...
			   (indicates the Earth)
		... I hope it's not.  Because
		they're running out of time.

					ELLIE
		You sound like Joseph.  You think
		the world ends with the millennium?

					HADDEN
		I think whoever sent the message did
		it because they're worried about us.

					ELLIE
		The gods sent us the machine because
		they took pity on us.

					HADDEN
		Wouldn't you if you saw Hitler on
		TV?
			   (then)
		Come; I want to show you something.

He reaches up to the ceiling, punches a button.  A large
display appears, showing the Earth.  He enlarges the
display until only Japan is visible, then only a large
island to the north --

					HADDEN
		Hokkaido Island.

					ELLIE
		The systems integration site.

					HADDEN
		Mmm.  Look closer.

The display enlarges still further, revealing more and
more detail -- until it comes to rest on a familiar
gantry-enveloped sphere, surrounded by hundreds of ant-
like technicians...

A second machine.

					HADDEN
		As each component was tested and
		shipped off to Texas a duplicate was
		maintained and assembled in Hokkaido
		-- for backup purposes, of course.
		We've been right behind you the
		entire time.
			   (as Ellie is stunned)
		You see my problem:  I couldn't
		appear to control too large a
		percentage; my enemies wouldn't
		stand for it.  So I simply made sure
		the Japanese consortium received the
		systems integration contract.  Of
		course no one had to know the
		corporations involved were recently
		acquired, wholly-owned
		subsidiaries --

					ELLIE
		-- of Hadden Industries.

Ellie is nonplused.  Hadden smiles dazzlingly.

					HADDEN
		Want to take a ride?

EXT.  SPACE STATION MIR

The sun rises over the Earth like a dazzling jewel.

INT.  DOCKING BAY

Hadden glide-walks Ellie to the airlock.  They share one
last look at the magnificent view of Earth -- then she
turns to him:

					ELLIE
		Why don't you come back with me?

					HADDEN
		Can't.  Doctor's orders.
			   (pausing)
		The low oxygen/zero gravity
		environment is the only thing
		keeping the cancer from eating me
		alive.
			   (laughs at Ellie's
			    shock)
		It's all right -- I like it here.
		Ever try sex in zero-G?

He raises an eyebrow.  Ellie smiles, then steps into the
airlock.  They face each other.  Hadden pauses before
closing it.

					HADDEN
		One more thing, Doctor.  If you do
		meet these Vegans...?  Ask them if
		we have to die.

ELLIE'S POV FROM SHUTTLE - MINUTES LATER

The umbilicals release; the shuttle drifts away.  Hadden
watches from his panorama window, small, motionless, as
Mir recedes and the shuttle retros back towards Earth.

EXT.  SEA OF JAPAN - AERIAL POV - DAY

We RUSH DOWN THROUGH the clouds to Hokkaido Island,
DESCENDING PAST the snow-covered peaks of Saporro TO...

EXT.  OBIHIRO VILLAGE (HOKKAIDO ISLAND) - DUSK

A shimmering vision of the machine sits in the middle of
the square; after a moment we realize it is made of ice.
Japanese artisans chip and grind, putting the finishing
touches on the enormous sculpture.

					REPORTER (O.S.)
		... it would be fair to say an
		upbeat atmosphere prevails here; the
		Japanese playing their role of host
		impeccably.

The promenade, decorated with colorful banners for the
Winter Festival, is alive with activity; street vendors
and film crews abound.  We BOOM DOWN to include the
REPORTER in the f.g.:

					REPORTER
		And there is reason for optimism:
		the way the machine consortium has
		bounced back in these last few
		months is nothing short of
		miraculous, and that restored sense
		of hope and purpose is clearly in
		evidence here today.

INT.  HOKKAIDO COMPOUND - PRESS CONFERENCE/PHOTO OP (MOS)

Madhouse.  CAMERA WHIR and CLICK, REPORTERS shout
questions.  Ellie squints in the glare of the lights,
overwhelmed.

					REPORTER (V.O.)
		But look beneath the surface and you
		can clearly sense a darker mood here
		-- an undercurrent of apprehension
		and fear as tomorrow approaches.
		And questions:  What awaits the
		world at the end of the long road to
		Hokkaido?  What will happen when the
		machine is finally activated?  And
		what must Eleanor Arroway be feeling
		on this, what may well be her last
		night on Planet Earth...?

EXT.  JAPANESE INN - ESTABLISHING SHOT - NIGHT

An ancient, elegant structure.  Security posted outside.

INT.  ELLIE'S QUARTERS - NIGHT

Cherry wood and rice paper; candles, orchids... and a
jumpsuit hanging in the corner.

Ellie paces restlessly.

Tries to read a book.

Tries to write a letter... crumples it up.

Ellie lays down on the bed.  A goldfish bowl sits on the
nightstand.  Ellie peers at it THROUGH the glass.

And then she hears a sound; the CRUNCHING of FOOTSTEPS on
PEBBLES.  Ellie sits up:  a silhouette is visible THROUGH
the rice paper wall.  She goes to the door, slides it
open --

-- revealing Palmer Joss, rumpled and jetlagged, holding a
sorry-looking bouquet of airport flowers.

					JOSS
		You didn't think I was going to let
		you leave without saying good-bye...

A long moment... and then she embraces him.

					JOSS
		Ellie... the last time we spoke... I
		said some things...

					ELLIE
		I remember.  You were indelicate,
		indiscreet and entirely less than
		tactful... Sound like anyone you
		know?

He smiles, grateful.  A moment.

					JOSS
		So.  The final countdown.

					ELLIE
		The final countdown.

					JOSS
			   (remembering)
		Oh.  I brought you something.

From his jacket he produces a small palm frond, presents
it to her.  She takes it, looks at him quizzically.

					JOSS
		During the crusades -- pilgrims who
		made the journey to the holy land
		brought back a palm frond to show
		they'd actually been there.  I
		thought it sort of made sense that
		Earth is now your holy land, so...

					ELLIE
			   (visibly moved)
		Thank you.

Joss takes her hand.

					JOSS
		You're trembling.

					ELLIE
		I do seem to be... Maybe because I'm
		just a little bit terrified about
		tomorrow.

					JOSS
			   (softly)
		Maybe that's okay.

She looks up at him, utterly vulnerable.  He raises his
hand to her cheek... then leans in and kisses her.

It's a very good kiss.

They kiss again, more passionately... and then Ellie pulls
away.

					JOSS
			   (softly)
		What...?

					ELLIE
		I'm sorry.

					JOSS
		What is it?

And suddenly she's crying, trying desperately to stop --
Joss puts his hands on her shoulders --

					JOSS
		Ellie, what is it?

					ELLIE
		I'm sorry -- I can't --

					JOSS
		What?

					ELLIE
		I can't do this --

					JOSS
		What are you so afraid of?

					ELLIE
		Please, Palmer -- if you care for me
		at all, don't push this now --

					JOSS
		What are my other options?  In fifty
		years?  Never?

					ELLIE
		Please --

					JOSS
		I'm in love with you, Ellie.

					ELLIE
			   (stares, then)
		Don't you understand?  I just have
		to hold it together -- just until
		tomorrow --

					JOSS
		And then what?  Then you'll be safe?

					ELLIE
		-- I don't know --

					JOSS
			   (intensely)
		Do you really think your life is
		meaningless, Eleanor?  Is that why
		you're so quick to risk it --
		because if your life means nothing
		then you have nothing to lose?

					ELLIE
		I can't hear this now --

					JOSS
		Ellie, there is no reason you have
		to be alone.

					ELLIE
			   (looking up;
			    helpless)
		And yet that's always how I seem to
		end up, isn't it?
			   (a moment)
		If you really do love me, Palmer,
		you'll leave.  Now.  Please.

She pulls away from him, leaving the room.  Joss stands
looking after her... then goes to the door... exits.
Ellie watches from the doorway...

INT.  ELLIE'S QUARTERS - DAY

The bed is made.  The jumpsuit is gone.  PUSH IN ON the
palm frond, sitting on the nightstand, next to the
goldfish bowl.

					FEMALE COMPUTER VOICE (V.O.)
			   (on P.A.)
		Activation T-minus O-seven hundred
		and counting --

EXT.  MACHINE - DUSK

Floodlights illuminate the machine superstructure with
intense light.  Technicians in blue jumpsuits, many of
them Japanese, swarm around the instrument/camera
bleachers.

While the Hokkaido machine differs somewhat from the one
in Texas in the details of its human-designed
superstructure, the eerie uniformity of the giant sphere,
here bathed in soft lavender light, is the same.

Elaborate instrument and camera bleachers surround it; in
the distance we can make out a control tower similar to
the one we saw vaporized in Texas.

INT.  CONTROL ROOM - DUSK

The Female Assistant Team Leader from Texas runs the
console, more technicians at their various stations.
Peter hovers nearby.  Standing in the back we notice a
number of poker-faced officials, some wearing U.S.
military uniforms.  Joss stands at the window looking out;
he puts his hand to the glass.

					REPORTER #1 (V.O.)
		-- The security here in Hokkaido has
		been incredibly tight; for obvious
		reasons only a single pool feed has
		been allowed at the machine site.
		Through the eye of the camera
		world...

EXT.  PLAZA (SINGAPORE)

A sea of Asian faces transfixed by a giant outdoor screen.

					REPORTER #2
			   (overlapping)
		... watches, holding its breath for
		that moment, now less than ten
		minutes away, when a single human
		being --

EXT.  MACHINE - DUSK

A van pulls up.  Out steps Ellie, composed, wearing her
jumpsuit and holding her video helmet.  Two Japanese
technicians accompany her as she heads toward the main
gantry elevator.

					REPORTER #2 (V.O.)
		-- boarding a machine of unknown
		origin and unknown function, will
		step into history...

					REPORTER #3 (V.O.)
			   (overlapping on
			    "history")
		... the question that's on
		everyone's mind:  will history
		repeat itself?

EXT.  FIFTH AVENUE (NEW YORK) - DAY

The street is deserted.  Televisions glow in every window.

					REPORTER #3 (V.O.)
		With a piece of engineering this
		complex, this unprecedented --

INT.  CHICAGO FUTURES EXCHANGE - DAY

The receipt-strewn floor lies deserted.

					REPORTER #3 (V.O.)
		-- with so many unknown variables --

EXT.  MACHINE - MAIN GANTRY ELEVATOR

The elevator gates open; Ellie and the technicians step
in.

					REPORTER #3 (V.O.)
		-- could the unthinkable occur?
		Could what happened in Texas happen
		again?

					FEMALE COMPUTER VOICE (V.O.)
		T-minus five minutes and counting.

EXT.  HOKKAIDO MACHINE SITE - OUTER PERIMETER - DUSK

Hundreds of reporters doing stand-ups.  A cacophony of
voices.

					REPORTER #3 (V.O.)
		Cutting to the feed now.

INSERT TELEVISION

The elevator rises, finally arriving in position halfway
up the great sphere.

ANGLE - LASKER AND KITZ

watch from Camp David.

ELEVATOR GATES

open, revealing Ellie flanked by the two technicians.

She looks down the long narrow walkway that leads to the
machine.

She puts on her helmet.

She begins her long walk.

WIDE SHOT - MACHINE

Ellie's tiny figure approaches the blazingly lit sphere.

INT.  GRAND CENTRAL STATION - DAY

Commuters stand stock still, watching the big screen.


EXT.  BEIJING STREET - DAY

Chinese peasants crowd the front of an appliance store;
jockeying to see the televisions.

INT.  CONTROL ROOM

On the monitors Ellie walks toward the machine.

					ELLIE (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		Someone tell me this is really
		happening.

					PETER
			   (into chin mic)
		It's really happening.

					ELLIE (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		That you, Valerian?

					PETER
		Like it or not.

					ELLIE (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		Like it.  Almost there.

ELLIE

approaches the alien fractal-embossed surface of the
machine.

She pauses.  Looks around -- her last glimpse of Earth...?

She takes a step -- and as she does the panel before her
loses its solidity, becoming an opaque gray mist.
Darkness beyond.

Ellis is on the threshold.

EXT.  PLAZA (SINGAPORE)

A million people hold their breath --

INT.  CONTROL ROOM

Peter.  Joss --

TIGHT ON ELLIE'S FACE

as she steps into the unknown.

WIDE SHOT - MACHINE

Tiny Ellie disappears into the machine.

INT.  MACHINE

As Ellie enters, the panel silently resolidifies behind
her.

					ELLIE
			   (murmurs)
		That's one small step for a woman...

Darkness.  A dim glow ahead shows through similar openings
in two more spherical benzels.  The surface beneath
Ellie's feet seems almost liquid.  She continues...

INT.  OUTER DODECAHEDRON

The enormous chamber is webbed with delicate
organosilicate implanted pattern.  An inner dodecahedron
marks the core of the machine.  Ellie steps through,
staring in wonder.

					A.T.L.  (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		Arroway, this is command control;
		do you copy?

					ELLIE
		Arroway to control; reading you five
		by five.

INTERCUT WITH:

INT.  COMMAND BRIDGE

					A.T.L.
		Showing green across the board.  All
		systems go...

Hesitates...

					PETER
		What?

					A.T.L.
		I'm not sure.  We have no launch
		protocol; the entry of the passenger
		is supposed to initiate activation.

					PETER
			   (into chin mic)
		Anything happening in there, El?

					ELLIE (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		Not so far -- but --

A deep RUMBLING is heard -- everyone jumps --

					A.T.L.
		What the hell --

					ELLIE
		Did you get that?

					JOSS
		Look.

They all look out the windows.

FULL SHOT - MACHINE - DUSK

The mighty benzels slowly begin to move.  It is an awesome
sight.

INT.  CONTROL ROOM

					A.T.L.
		We have benzel activation, repeat,
		we have benzel activation.  Control
		to Arroway, you okay in there?
			   (off silence)
		Repeat, Control to Arroway, come
		back.

					PETER
			   (into chin mic)
		Ellie?

INT.  MACHINE

					ELLIE
		Arroway to Control, come in.
			   (off nothing, willing
			    herself to calm)
		Arroway to Control, do you copy?

INT.  COMMAND BRIDGE

The BENZELS have begun to generate a HARMONIC HUM, each
generating a DIFFERENT TONE.  It grows LOUDER as they
continue to pick up speed --

					A.T.L.
		We've lost contact.

					PETER
		Pull the plug.  Get her out of
		there.

					A.T.L.
		There's no plug to pull.

					PETER
		What?

					A.T.L.
		There is no abort procedure -- we
		don't know how we turned the damn
		thing on, let alone how to turn it
		off.

Peter stares at the spinning benzels, rapidly gaining
speed.  Palmer Joss closes his eyes and quietly starts to
pray.

INT.  MACHINE

Something is happening inside the machine; a shimmering,
almost as if the air itself was changing...

					ELLIE
		Control, I'm going to continue
		broadcasting on the assumption...
		hope... that you can hear me.  The
		atmosphere within the chamber seems
		to be undergoing some sort of
		spontaneous state conversion...

The shimmering amber-lit gas surrounds Ellie, in some
places remaining gaseous (for breathing); in others
aqueous, in others a gel-like colloidal, supporting her.
Nervously:

					ELLIE
		My breathing seems normal...

The MACHINE SHUDDERS.

					ELLIE
		What was that -- ?

FROM TWO MILES OUT AT SEA

We see clouds gather; an ominous microclimate forming over
Hokkaido.  Strange violet-hued lights in the sky --

INT.  CONTROL ROOM

The HUM of BENZELS is deafening, like a galactic choir --

INT.  VLA - SAME TIME

Fisher, Willie and the team are glued to the set.

INT.  CAMP DAVID - SAME TIME

President Lasker and Kitz watch the same coverage.

INT.  MIR - SAME TIME

Hadden floating, silhouetted against his TV wall.

EXT.  MACHINE

The lower support structure begins to withdraw but the
enormous sphere remains spinning freely in space -- the
clouds part --

ELLIE

whirls around in terror as the light grows dazzlingly
bright.

FULL SHOT - MACHINE

Suddenly the benzels flicker -- go transparent --
everything is visible for a millisecond as a blinding
flash of light illuminates the superstructure and
surrounding countryside brighter than the brightest day --

INT.  CONTROL ROOM - SAME MOMENT

Monitors whiteout in a blaze of blinding light.

INT.  MIR STATION

Hadden's TV wall whites out as he dies smiling --

								    CUT TO:

INT.  MACHINE

The sense of acceleration is tremendous, as if dropping
through the center of the earth.  The fluid has become
more gel-like solid, supporting Ellie's body.  The front
panel is now opaque, the left and right panels semi-
transparent.

A bright blue-white light up ahead, illuminating what
seems not so much to be a tunnel as a sense of space
warping around us; like being inside a fisheye lens as it
dolly/zooms.  Ellie speaks breathlessly into her mike...

					ELLIE
		I'm falling... sense of enormous
		acceleration.  It's a wormhole, it's
		got to be, but how do they keep it
		stable?  The energy required --

Now the front panel becomes transparent:  Ahead is a
dazzlingly bright blue-white object with dimmer copies of
it surrounding it.

As speed increases the subsidiary images become fainter,
moving in a transverse circle.  Behind Ellie, though she
doesn't see it, the panels show similar images of the
launch site at Hokkaido.  The blue-white light from up
ahead becomes blinding as the Dodec erupts into space.

					ELLIE
		It's a star, I'm in orbit around a
		star, spectral type A, maybe early
		F.  Getting weird multiple images
		here; relativity effects?
		Accretion disk... gotta be Vega,
		only... oh my God...

A great mass passing above eclipses Vega's light, throwing
the Dodec into shadow.  The immense polyhedron construct
from the opening of the film, dappled with its millions of
transmitters, drifts overhead.  It's easily 100 miles
across.  Staring in awe:

					ELLIE
		They're talking to the whole
		universe... Okay, okay, clearly
		artificial, some sort of relay
		station but the scale is just...
		tens of thousands of receivers,
		hundreds... some sort of
		biotechnology, like the machine
		but... don't see anything like a
		docking port...

The machine suddenly makes a hard left; an object appears
ahead, an impossible inside-out sphere in space; four
dazzling lights seem to be embedded within it.

					ELLIE
		Another wormhole?  Bigger this time
		-- oh God --

The Dodec plunges down it as Ellie struggles to contain
her wildly fluctuating emotions.  The surrounding gas
begins to shift color, modulate --

					ELLIE
		Okay.  Okay.  A series of wormholes,
		linked together, artificially
		created, but why would...?
			   (then)
		Jesus, it's a subway system.

The Dodec erupts into a quadruple star system.  A pair of
red and blue stars orbit each other while a pair of
yellow-green dwarfs orbit them.

Ellie swallows hard, hyperventilating --

					ELLIE
		Quadruple system... incredible...
		don't recognize any background
		constellations... hundreds, possibly
		thousands of light years from Earth
		now.  So beautiful.  So...

Ellie growing woozy; trying to snap out of it.

					ELLIE
		The physics must be a thousand, ten
		thousand years beyond us but... oh
		God... oh God something's...
		happening...

Ellie is overwhelmed with emotion -- we think she's about
to cry but then she bursts out laughing --

					ELLIE
		It's beautiful.  It's beautiful.  I
		keep saying that but I can't... my
		mind can't... words... should've
		sent a poet.  I'm a poet and don't
		know it...
			   (sings)
		Ground control to Major Tom...
			   (struggling)
		Relativitistic side-effect?  Or --
		induced by the transport medium?
		The gas...

Now Ellie is crying, sobbing uncontrollably.

					ELLIE
		Oh, Palmer, I wish I'd had a baby.

The Dodec plunges into another inside-out sphere, this one
larger and glowing blood red --


SERIES OF SHOTS

A)  A GIANT RED STAR

    As it engulfs an Earthlike planet.  We watch the
    planet's oceans boil away; the surface chars, sears
    dead --

B)  SUPERNOVA

    Tidal waves of gas clouds rush away from the exploding
    sun -- shock waves tumble debris AT us.  At the center
    of the cataclysm a rapidly rotating neutron star
    flashes like a lighthouse, ten times a second.

C)  LARGE BLUE GAS GIANT

    Circling an emerald green star.  On the night side of
    the planet are huge glowing jellyfish-like shapes, the
    floating cites of an alien civilization.  Millions of
    glowing gold particles connect them in elaborate
    swirling patterns, a dance of golden glitter...

D)  LAST WORMHOLE

    choked with multicolored pinprick flares -- a sense of
    tremendous acceleration, finally erupting into --

CENTER OF GALAXY

So many dazzling multicolored stars they almost touch.
Millions more stars than are visible from Earth on the
clearest night.

An immense, spiraling river of gas and dust, millions of
miles long, pours into the maw of a black hole of
staggering dimensions.  Flashes of radiation leap from the
center like summer lightning --

					ELLIE
		The center of the galaxy...

The Dodec suddenly rotates.  Swimming INTO OUR FIELD OF
VIEW...

GALACTIC GRAND CENTER STATION

It fills half the sky.  A vast vast artificial planet;
immeasurably immense liquid clouds drift in its
atmosphere, punctuated by planet-size holes, columns of
mist thousands of mile high.

The Dodec gently plunges into an atmosphere of blue night;
below we can make out thousands of yellow-lit openings in
the gel-like surface, each a different geometric shape.

					ELLIE
		Docking ports... those are docking
		ports for other machines... hi,
		everybody...

As the Dodec continues to lower toward a hexagonal
receptor the panels grow opaque, blocking out all light.
Ellie fights to remain conscious as it grows dimmer and
dimmer:

					ELLIE
		Now arriving Grand Central
		Station... floating down...
		floating...
			   (like a little girl)
		Twinkle twinkle... little star...
		how I wonder... ellemenopee...
			   (shaking her head)
		... have to stay awake... stay
		awake...
			   (slipping)
		Please... please...

She passes out.

								    FADE TO BLACK.

IN BLACK

Nothing.  Still nothing.  Finally, a gentle, familiar
SOUND...

FADE IN:

ELLIE

lies in a fetal position.  After a long moment she opens
her eyes.  The familiar RHYTHMIC sound is LOUDER.  Her
eyes widen...

EXT.  BEACH - DAWN

Ellie sits up on a pristine white beach.  Huge ranges of
cumulus lit red/gold by the dawn silhouette clusters of
palm trees; the sound of gently ROLLING SURF, SQUAWKING
GULLS.

Ellie stands.  The Dodec is nowhere to be seen.  She looks
around in disbelief.

She takes a few halting steps, like a child learning to
walk.  She kneels, scoops up some sand.  Frowns in
confusion...

Ellie digs her hand into the sea, almost loses her balance
again.  She tastes the water.  Normal.  Her confusion
grows...

					ELLIE
		I... remember this...

She steps further into the water; letting its warmth
soothe her, wipes the furrows from her brow.  Closes her
eyes as she lets the water take her.

EXT.  BEACH - LATER

The sun is higher now.  The SURF CRASHES.

					ELLIE (O.S.)
		Recording... check, check.
		Recording, is this on?  I think this
		is on.

Ellie sits against a palm tree, looking out at the sea.
She seems a little more cogent.

					ELLIE
		Okay.  I've traveled thirty thousand
		light years, give or take a few
		parsecs, to go to the beach.  So...
		Either they've created this
		environment... or the illusion of
		this environment, to make me feel at
		home... or else somehow I am at home
		-- or else this is my cage at the
		intergalactic zoo and the tour bus
		will be along any minute...

A distant figure becomes visible down the beach.  As it
approaches Ellie continues, unaware:

					ELLIE
		Or else, of course, I'm completely
		insane.  This should not be
		discounted as a possibility --
		although the fact that I'm
		questioning my sanity should be a
		pretty good indication that I am in
		fact sane... unless of course...
		unless...

Ellie stops, as if sensing something.  The figure grows
closer, now clearly humanoid.  Ellie turns to look --

-- and stares in utter disbelief.  She rises to her
feet...

ELLIE'S POV

Ted Arroway is walking easily toward her.  He smiles.

					TED
		Morning, Captain.

ELLIE

Tears come to her eyes... she approaches, staring... He
takes her hand --

					TED
		I've missed you.

It's too much.  Ellie throws herself into his arms, holds
him tight.

					ELLIE
		Dad...

She sobs.  He holds her.

					TED
		It's okay...

Ellie recovers a bit, wiping away her tears --

					ELLIE
		I used... I used to dream you were
		alive... and then I'd wake up and
		lose you all over again.

					TED
		I'm sorry I couldn't be there for
		you, sweetheart.

					ELLIE
		Dad... But tell me, how did... I
		mean how can...?

Reality returns like a cloud passing over the sun.
Softly:

					ELLIE
		You're not real.  None of this is.

					TED
			   (smiles sadly)
		That's my scientist.

					ELLIE
			   (struggling to
			    breathe)
		So.  Are you an hallucination?  Or
		are little gear trains and circuit
		boards under your skin?

					TED
		Am I artifact or dream?  You might
		ask that about anything.

					ELLIE
		But you're so... I mean how could
		you possibly...?
			   (realizing)
		When I was unconscious.  You...
		downloaded... my thoughts, my
		memories, even...
			   (realizing)
		This beach.  I've never been here
		but I remember... it's how I always
		imagined...
			   (softly)
		Pensacola.

					TED
		We thought this might make things a
		little easier.

And in the blink of an eye they are no longer standing on
a beach but on the rim of the Grand Canyon, looking out at
a spectacular sunset.

					TED
		... although this is nice too.

Ellie tries hard to swallow her amazement as Ted begins to
stroll along the rim; she walks with him.

					ELLIE
		So who -- what -- are you?

					TED
		Originally just another species like
		yourselves.  Well, not like you at
		all actually, but...

					ELLIE
		Can you show me?

					TED
		Small moves, Captain, small moves.

					ELLIE
		Why did you contact us?

					TED
		You contacted us.  We were simply
		listening.  We've been listening for
		millions of years.

					ELLIE
		And those other docking ports I
		saw... I mean... there are others?

					TED
		Many others.

					ELLIE
		And they all travel here through
		this wormhole subway system you
		built.

					TED
		Oh, we didn't build it.  The transit
		system has been in place for
		billions of years; we're just its...
		caretakers.

					ELLIE
		So who...?

					TED
		We don't know.  Whoever they were,
		they were gone long before we ever
		got here.

					ELLIE
		The scale... it's just...
			   (catching her breath)
		So all the civilizations you detect;
		they all end up coming here?

					TED
		Not all.  Some choose to stay at
		home and dream their dreams.
			   (sadly)
		Some never make it this far.

					ELLIE
		So we passed some kind of test?

					TED
		You have your mother's hands...
			   (beat)
		There are no tests, Ellie.  We don't
		sit in judgment.  Think of us more
		as... librarians.  Curators of the
		Universe's rarest and most valuable
		creation...

And now they are walking through a familiar forest.
Sunlight streams through the tall trees.

					TED
		As many civilizations as we've
		found, compared to the vastness of
		space...

He seems momentarily overcome with a terrible sadness...
and then he recovers, smiles.

					TED
		... life is unspeakably rare.  So
		whenever we do find another
		civilization, especially one
		that's... struggling... We send a
		message.  Sometimes we can offer
		help.  Sometimes we can't.  But we
		always try.  Life is simply too
		precious not to.

					ELLIE
		Can you help us?

Ted hesitates.  They are now standing in the middle of a
vast alien desert, stretching to the horizon.  The dome of
the sky darkens revealing a view from outside the galaxy;
the Milky Way hangs like a pinwheel in the blackness of
intergalactic night.

					TED
		You're an interesting species; an
		interesting mix.  Capable of such
		exquisite dreams; such horrifying
		nightmares.  Technologically you've
		advanced very quickly -- some think
		too quickly... and yet...

CLOSE ON TED

He turns to Ellie, puts a loving hand to her face.
Softly:

					TED
		You're so lost.  So cut off... and
		so sad.

And suddenly Ellie is standing on the sun-dappled Cal Tech
campus.  She turns to find herself standing opposite David
Drumlin.

					DRUMLIN
		What is it that makes you so lonely,
		Miss Arroway?

Ellie stares at him -- instinctively backs away, turning
around --

-- to find herself high atop the radio dish at Arecibo
looking into Peter Valerian's face --

					PETER
		Be honest, El.  The truth is you
		really don't want the company.

Peter shakes his head -- then begins to melt, morph into
Palmer Joss --

					JOSS
		What does it feel like to understand
		everything in the universe except
		yourself?

-- the Texas meadow instantly dissolves behind him to
become the darkness of the Hokkaido night --

					JOSS
		Ellie, there is no reason you have
		to be alone.

Ellie stares at him; he slowly morphs back into Ted as he
and the space around them become infused with an unearthly
golden light; his voice ECHOING and resonating into
infinity --

					TED
		We are alone.  For millions of years
		we've searched the cosmos... and
		after all the suffering, after all
		the chaos and desolation of the void
		-- the one thing we've found that
		makes the emptiness bearable is each
		other.  That's why I sent the
		message.  That's why I made contact.

Ellie moves closer, staring into his eyes... and catches a
glimpse of infinity.  She holds her breath --

					ELLIE
			   (whispers)
		Who are you?

We begin to MOVE THROUGH them, INTO --

ANOTHER DIMENSION

					TED
			   (reading her mind)
		Am I one... or many?

					ELLIE
		The librarian... or the library...?

We are lost inside an unimaginable realm, an infinity of
nested realities turning inside and within each other in a
staggering visual paradox that dazzles and overwhelms,
that builds and soars until --

-- the soft CRASHING of the SURF...

Ellie is back, standing with her father on a perfect beach
in the glow of twilight.  A gentle breeze blows.  Ellis is
overcome.

					ELLIE
		... all those voices... you gather
		them all together.  Millions of
		intelligences in one consciousness...
		and now we're a part of it.

					TED
		You always have been.  We're all
		descendants of the same stars,
		Ellie.  All made of the same
		primordial atoms.

					ELLIE
			   (overwhelmed)
		So.  What happens now?

					TED
		Now... you go home.

					ELLIE
			   (instinctively; like
			    a child)
		No!
			   (as Ted smiles)
		I mean... why so soon?

					TED
		If we don't engineer a consistent
		causality it'll work itself out on
		its own, and that's almost always
		worse.
			   (seeing her
			    confusion)
		Ellie, according to your physics
		none of this is possible.  A lot of
		it you're simply not capable of
		understanding, not yet.  No offense.

					ELLIE
		None taken... but ... do we get to
		come back?  Others of my kind, I
		mean.

He tenderly brushes a stray lock of hair behind her ear.

					TED
		Eventually you'll get here on your
		own.  This was just the first step;
		in time you'll take another.

					ELLIE
		But -- other people from our planet
		should see what I've seen -- they
		should witness this for themselves.

					TED
		That isn't the way it works.

					ELLIE
		But you said you wanted to help --
		don't you see what it would mean?

					TED
			   (gently)
		No more stalling, Captain.

					ELLIE
			   (intensely)
		Please -- if you... downloaded...
		everything about us you know the
		problems we face, the impact it
		could have -- it could make the
		difference --

					TED
		Ellie... this is the way it's been
		done for billions of years...

She looks at him pleadingly... and as the part of him that
is her father look into his daughter's eyes, he
hesitates --

					TED
		... but we'll consider your request.

A breeze blows, stronger now.

					TED
		It's time to go home now.

					ELLIE
		No.  Please.

					TED
			   (smiles sadly)
		Childhood is over, Ellie.  It's time
		to grow up.

A WHOOSH of AIR -- Ellie spins around --

The Dodec sits incongruously on the beach.

She turns back.  Ted has vanished.

					ELLIE
		No...

And as Ellie finally and fully mourns her lost father, we
leave her, crying, alone on an empty beach, 30,000 light
years from home...

								    FADE TO BLACK.

FADE IN:

EXT.  MACHINE (HOKKAIDO) - NIGHT

The HUM DIES as the benzels slowly come to rest.

Ellie emerges from the machine.  Her expression composed.
The opening solidifies behind her --

-- and then we hear a sudden BURST of STATIC, followed by
a cacophonous BARRAGE of VOICES -- Ellie instinctively
puts her hands to her helmet --

					CONTROLLER (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		-- Got her -- !

					A.T.L.
			   (filtered)
		-- all benzel motion has ceased.
		Repeat, benzels are stopped;
		securing the area --

					PETER (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		Ellie -- are you okay?

					ELLIE
		I'm -- I'm fine.

					PETER (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		Thank God.  When we lost contact, I
		thought -- we thought... but you're
		okay.  We're still trying to
		determine the nature of the
		malfunction.  Did you notice
		anything at all that --

					ELLIE
		Wait -- hold on a minute --

					PETER (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		It's all right, the important thing
		is you're safe --

					ELLIE
		Peter, what are you talking about?
		What malfunction?
			   (looking around)
		What day is this?

					PETER (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		What day?

					ELLIE
		How long was I gone?

INT.  COMMAND CONTROL - CONTINUOUS ACTION

Peter stands at the command console, just as we left him.

					PETER
		Ellie... we saw you enter the
		machine.  The benzels spun up,
		generating some sort of atmospheric
		disturbance.  The benzels spun down.
		And then... just now... you stepped
		out.  We were out of radio contact
		exactly... seven minutes and thirty-
		five seconds.  The machine never
		went anywhere.

INT.  MEDICAL BUNKER - IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING

A team of physicians examine Ellie, hooked up to various
medical equipment --

					DOCTOR
		Are you experiencing any flu-like
		symptoms.  Aching joints?  Fever?

					ELLIE
		I'm fine --

					DOCTOR
		Headaches?  Swollen glands?

					ELLIE
		No -- could somebody please just --

The DOCTOR checks a series of monitors, turns to an
official.

					DOCTOR
		Vitals identical to pre-launch
		stats.

					ANOTHER SCIENTIST
		No sign of radiation or biological
		contamination of any kind.  She's
		clean.

Peter enters the room, briefly confers with the official
-- then approaches Ellie, who sighs in grateful relief.

					ELLIE
		Peter... What is going on?  Has
		everyone gone completely insane?

					PETER
		That's one way of putting it.  Kitz,
		the President, the I.S.C. have shut
		down all official communications;
		there've also been reports of riots
		flaring up across the U.S. and
		Europe.  Until we figure out what
		went wrong things may get rough,
		especially for you --

					ELLIE
		But the machine worked -- that's
		what I've been trying to tell
		everyone!
			   (in utter
			    frustration)
		The tape -- it's all there, if
		they'd just look at...
			   (seeing Peter's grim
			    look)
		... the tape...

And as Ellie realizes with sickening certainty --

								    CUT TO:

STATIC-FILLED MONITOR

Colored snow.  Nothing.


INT.  DEBRIEFING ROOM

Kitz turns off the monitor, turns to Ellie, still in her
hospital gown and robe.  Peter stands nearby, as do a
group of frighteningly expressionless I.S.C. and Pentagon
officials.

					ELLIE
		... I don't understand it.  All I
		can think is that maybe because the
		video gear wasn't accounted for in
		the original plans it somehow
		violated the integrity of the
		design.

					KITZ
		Is that your official response?

					ELLIE
		I don't have an official response,
		Michael.  All I have are the same
		questions you have.

Kitz pauses... and then he turns to her, his intensity
increasing as we PUSH IN ON him --

					KITZ
		I'm afraid that's not a satisfactory
		answer, Doctor.  We spent two
		trillion dollars.  You walked into
		that machine with the hopes and
		prayers of an entire planet with
		you, and you stepped out with
		nothing.  Those people are going to
		want more than idle speculation and
		conjecture -- they're going to want
		answers -- and I hope for all our
		sakes you can come up with them.

EXT.  MACHINE (HOKKAIDO) - NIGHT

Ellie, surrounded by a phalanx of security, moves quickly
through the nightmarish mob scene.  Disorienting TV lights
glare, illuminating a flurry of drift snow --

As Ellie is hustled toward a van she glimpses a figure --
an oasis of stillness in the mob, watching her -- Joss.
Their eyes meet for the briefest of moments -- and then
Ellie is swept into the van and away.  Joss watches her go
-- looks at the chaos, the madness around him -- then
slowly looks up to the sky ...

								    DISSOLVE TO:

EXT.  WASHINGTON D.C.

A hard rain falls.  We FIND a government sedan, FOLLOW it
THROUGH burned-out slums --

					SECRETARY (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		I have Mr. Kitz for you Ms.
		President.

					PRESIDENT LASKER (V.O.)
		Put him through.
			   (as PHONE CLICKS)
		Well?

					KITZ (V.O.)
			   (filtered)
		Nothing.  Apparently the surface
		began to ossify immediately after
		she emerged; all subsequent attempts
		to re-enter the machine have
		failed...

The sedan approaches the Capitol Building.  The steps are
mobbed with a surreal menagerie of the fanatical and the
dispossessed.  A huge bonfire has been built; images of
Ellie on the cross...

					KITZ (V.O.)
		... as have all attempts at internal
		analysis.  We've tried sonargrams,
		magnetic resonance, gamma rays; it's
		completely impenetrable.

					PRESIDENT LASKER (V.O.)
		Recommendations?

					KITZ (V.O.)
		I don't know.  Maybe we built the
		damn thing wrong.  Maybe it was all
		a hoax...
			   (sighs)
		The safest thing would probably be
		to do a Chernobyl; encase it in
		concrete.

					PRESIDENT LASKER (V.O.)
		Have your department make a full
		report.

INT.  OVAL OFFICE - CONTINUOUS ACTION - DAY

The rain pours down.  The President slowly hangs up the
phone.

INT.  SEDAN - CONTINUOUS ACTION

Ellie looks out the window at the mob descending on the
car, all fighting desperately to catch a glimpse of her --
faces filled with hope, hate, desperation -- Ellie shrinks
back --

INT.  SENATE ANTEROOM - DAY

The CLOCK TICKING on the wall reads five to nine.

Ellie sits alone in the small room.  Waiting.

A KNOCK on the door.  Ellie looks up nervously --

Palmer Joss stands in the doorway.  A moment... and then
Ellie slowly rises and goes to him.  Embraces him.  He
holds her.

					JOSS
		Oh, Ellie...

Ellie finally pulling away, wiping her eyes.

					ELLIE
		Hi.

					JOSS
		Hi.

					ELLIE
		I'm assuming you read my deposition.

					JOSS
		It was quite a page turner.

					ELLIE
		Pretty ironic, huh?  I had to go all
		the way to the center of the
		galaxy... Just to find you.

She takes his hand, kisses it.  He touches her face.

The CLOCK TICKS.

					ELLIE
		So.  I'm assuming they sent you here
		to administer last rites?

					JOSS
		I'm not sure it's come to that.

					ELLIE
		They don't believe me.

					JOSS
		I do.

					ELLIE
		You're sure you want to?  In the
		universe I saw we're not exactly the
		stars of the show.  What happened to
		me makes us all seem pretty damn
		small.

					JOSS
		It also makes God enormous.  I think
		of the scope of your universe,
		Ellie... and it takes my breath
		away.  As it will everyone else's.

					ELLIE
		I don't have any proof, Palmer.

					JOSS
		Ellie, you're the proof.  You tell
		them your story.  Ultimately they'll
		have no choice but to believe you.

					ELLIE
		It's not enough, don't you
		understand?  I know it happened --
		but by every standard of science, by
		every standard I've lived my life by
		that fact is utterly beside the
		point.  It may be true but it
		doesn't matter because I can't prove
		it's real.

					JOSS
		Ellie, the only one holding you to
		that standard is you!  The people
		want to hear your story, they need
		to hear it!

					ELLIE
		But --

					JOSS
		Have you seen what's happening out
		there?  The terror, the despair?
		The world is on fire, Ellie.  People
		need something they can believe in,
		something worthy, and you can give
		it to them!

					ELLIE
		I want to, Palmer -- more than
		anything.  But it has to be real.
		It has to be true.

					JOSS
			   (hesitates)
		Ellie... if you go out there like
		this -- if you admit to even the
		possibility that what you
		experienced didn't actually happen
		-- I'm afraid they really will
		crucify you.  Please.  For your own
		sake, for the sake of the world...
		tell them what you know to be the
		truth.  Tell them it really
		happened.

Ellie looks up at him -- and then the door opens and an
AIDE enters.

					AIDE
		They're ready for you.

INT.  U.S. SENATE

Every corner of the cavernous Senate Chamber is jammed
with media, politicians, onlookers.  The world stage.  The
big show.

The International Committee is composed of eight men and
two women, including Kitz.  Occupying the center seat is
the COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN, An Asian American Senator in his
sixties.

Sitting all by herself at a long table opposite them,
Ellie looks very small and alone.

					SENATOR
		You were in the machine for seven
		minutes, thirty-five seconds, is
		that correct, Doctor?

					ELLIE
		Earth time, yes.

					SENATOR
			   (pausing)
		Earth time.

					ELLIE
			   (a deep breath)
		Senator... I believe I traveled
		through a series of wormholes.
		Wormholes are a phenomenon deduced
		by Einstein; they're essentially
		tears in the fabric of space/time.
		Because of the effects of relativity
		what I experienced as a period of
		approximately eighteen hours passed
		almost instantaneously on Earth.  To
		you I seemed to depart and arrive
		back at the same moment.

					KITZ
		Doctor, isn't it true that wormholes
		are merely predictions of relativity
		theory?  That there's no evidence
		they actually exist?

Ellie hesitates.  Looks up at Joss in the gallery.  Then:

					ELLIE
		There is no direct evidence, no.

					KITZ
		And current theory holds that to
		sustain the sort of wormholes you're
		talking about, even for a fraction
		of a second, would require more
		energy than our sun produces in a
		year, is that correct?

					ELLIE
		I don't have the figures in front of
		me, but yes, that sounds about
		right.

					KITZ
		In fact, by all the laws of physics
		we know what you claim to have
		experienced is simply impossible.

					ELLIE
			   (beat, then, softly)
		By our standards... yes.

Palmer Joss, sitting in the gallery, closes his eyes.

SAME SCENE - LATER

The Chairman flips slowly through a file as he questions
Ellie.

					CHAIRMAN
		... And this is how the
		extraterrestrial presented himself
		to you?  As your father?

					ELLIE
		Yes, sir.

					CHAIRMAN
		He died...
			   (looks at file)
		... in 1972.

					ELLIE
		Yes, sir.

					CHAIRMAN
			   (pausing)
		Dr. Arroway, do you think it's
		possible you had some kind of...
		delusional episode.

Joss leans forward in his chair.

					ELLIE
		Is it possible...?

					CHAIRMAN
		All the elements are there.  A
		woman, orphaned young, under a great
		deal of stress.  The failure of a
		project she's staked her self-worth
		and very sense of identity on --
		induces a fantasy of reuniting with
		her 'father in heaven' as it were.
		Is it possible?

Ellie is silent.

					KITZ
		Please answer the question, Doctor.

					ELLIE
			   (a long silence)
		Is it possible.  Yes.  But --

					KITZ
		Thank you, Doctor.  Now --

					ELLIE
			   (overriding him)
		-- but I don't believe it to be the
		truth.

					CHAIRMAN
			   (peering at her;
			    intrigued)
		You don't believe it to be... tell
		me something, Doctor.  Why do you
		think they would go to all this
		trouble... bring you tens of
		thousands of light years, and then
		send you home without a shred of
		proof?  Sort of bad form, wouldn't
		you say?  What was their intent?

					ELLIE
			   (hesitates)
		I don't know.  Ultimately their
		motives may be as incomprehensible
		as their technology.

The crowd murmurs.  Committee members exchange glances.

					CHAIRMAN
			   (sigh)
		Dr. Arroway, you come before us with
		no evidence.  No records, no
		artifacts -- only a story that -- to
		put I mildly -- strains credibility.
		Over two trillion dollars was spent,
		hundreds of lives were lost, many
		more may be in jeopardy due to the
		almost incalculable worldwide
		psychological impact... Are you
		going to sit there and tell us that
		we should simply take this all on
		faith?

The word rings out like a shot.  Silence.

					KITZ
		Answer the question, Doctor.  As a
		scientist -- can you prove any of
		this?

JOSS

Holding his breath.

ELLIE

Closes her eyes.  Finally, almost inaudibly:

					ELLIE
		No.

The room is silent.  Almost gently:

					KITZ
		So why don't you admit what by your
		own standards must be the truth:
		that this experience simply didn't
		happen.

					ELLIE
			   (pauses, then,
			    simply)
		Because I can't.

The crowd reacts.

Ellie looks up to the gallery... and finds Joss.

As she speaks with great emotion and restraint, she seems
to be talking directly to him.

					ELLIE
		I had... an experience.  I can't
		prove it.  I can't even explain it.
		All I can tell you is that
		everything I know as a human being,
		everything I am -- tells me that it
		was real.

The room grows quiet.

					ELLIE
			   (softly)
		I was given something wonderful.
		Something that changed me.  A vision
		of the universe that made it
		overwhelmingly clear just how tiny
		and insignificant -- and at the same
		time how rare and precious we all
		are.  A vision... that tells us we
		belong to something greater than
		ourselves... that we're not -- that
		none of us -- is alone.

JOSS

Moved beyond words.

ELLIE

looks lovingly at Palmer... then shifts her gaze to
Michael Kitz.  Softly:

					ELLIE
		I wish I could share it.  I wish
		everyone, if only for a moment --
		could feel that sense of awe, and
		humility... and hope.  That
		continues to be my wish.

The emotion in her voice compels the room to silence.

Kitz.

Joss.

Ellie.

INT.  CAPITOL BUILDING - CORRIDOR - NIGHT

Spilling out; reporters closing in.  As Kitz emerges he
sees Ellie -- she meets his gaze.

A moment... and then he nods, walks briskly off.  Ellie
turns -- to find Joss standing by the door, waiting for
her.  A timeless moment...

... and then she silently crosses to him and lets him fold
her into his arms.

EXT.  CAPITOL BUILDING - NIGHT

The rain lashes down unabated.  A sea of press crushing in
on Ellie and Joss as they grimly make their way through,
police clearing the way -- A ZEALOT intones in the b.g. --

					ZEALOT
		'... He dreamed, and behold, a
		ladder was set up on the Earth, and
		the top of it reached to heaven...
		Surely the Lord is in this place,
		and I knew it not.  This is none
		other but the House of God.'

As Ellie moves through the crowd PEOPLE in wheelchairs
fight to approach, people with terrible deformities --
they call to her:

					PEOPLE
		Ellie... Bless me, Ellie... Heal
		me...

Ellie, torn between wanting to help these suffering souls
and not wanting to lie, whispers:

					ELLIE
		I'm sorry... I'm sorry...

And then the reporters descend, shouting out questions --
one in particular rings out --

					REPORTER
		Reverend Joss, do you think the
		failure of the machine is God's
		rebuke to science?

Joss stops.  He turns to the crowd; slowly:

					JOSS
		As a person of faith... I am bound
		by a different covenant than Dr.
		Arroway -- but I believe our goal is
		one and the same:  the pursuit of
		the truth.  I think today Dr.
		Arroway continued that pursuit under
		the most trying of conditions.

He puts his arm around Ellie and hurries away.  The
crowds, the media watch as the Messiah who failed
disappears into the rainy night.

SERIES OF SHOTS

A)  HOKKAIDO

    The entombment of the machine has begun.  Scaffolding
    on all sides, swarming with workers in quarantine
    suits.  Helicopters fly overhead, dumping load after
    load of concrete.

B)  VLA

    boarded up, deserted.  Weeds springing up around the
    now-rusting cyclone fence; the desert moving in to
    reclaim what it had briefly lost.  The radio dishes
    waiting, silent.

C)  SMALL COUNTRY CEMETERY

    a familiar fishpond in the b.g.  Ellie, holding a
    small bunch of wildflowers, kneels to gently place
    them on her father's grave.

EXT.  LAKE TIMOTHY (OREGON) - DUSK (DECEMBER 31, 2001)

The small figures of Ellie and Joss walk along the
beautiful lake under the forested slopes of Mt. Hood.

					ELLIE
		... but it is a good question, and I
		suppose I'll always wonder about the
		answer:  Why would they send me back
		without proof?

					JOSS
		Maybe what you experienced can't be
		reduced to images on a videotape.
		Maybe they still plan to grant your
		request, only in their own way, in
		their own time... Or maybe it's just
		like you said:  ultimately their
		motives may be as incomprehensible
		as their technology.

					ELLIE
		In other words, God works in
		mysterious ways...

					JOSS
			   (smiles)
		In other words.

They stop, look out at the water.

					ELLIE
		I don't know.  If it was a god, it
		was searching for a greater one.  It
		was still searching for meaning...

					JOSS
		Does that mean you think it doesn't
		exist?

					ELLIE
		I'm not sure...
			   (looking up)
		Maybe it simply exists in the search
		for it.  Maybe its something we have
		to make for ourselves.

					JOSS
		Meaning...

					ELLIE
		Something my dad -- they -- said.
		'After all the suffering, after all
		the desolation of the void -- the
		one thing that makes the vastness
		tolerable is each other.'
			   (looking up at Joss)
		The one thing that makes it bearable
		is love.

She takes his hand... and then they look up at the sky,
where the first stars are coming out.

					BBC REPORTER (V.O.)
		... and while the riots here in
		London continue for the fourth night
		in a row, on the other side of the
		Atlantic the news is equally grim...

					REPORTER #1 (V.O.)
			   (overlapping)
		... thousands of starving refugees
		fled the area as the bloody fighting
		continued...

					REPORTER #2 (V.O.)
		... a massive book burning took
		place in downtown Berlin today...

					REPORTER #3 (V.O.)
		... and on this last night of the
		old millennium and the eve of the
		new one, looking back on a past
		racked by violence and chaos, we of
		the human race look ahead to an
		uncertain future -- a future which,
		at least for now, seems to promise
		only more of the same...

The VOICES FADE into oblivion.

								    CUT TO:

EXT.  HOKKAIDO MACHINE - DUSK

The machine stands entombed; silent, inscrutable.

All is still.

Then, the first sign:  small insects crawl from cracks in
the pavement.

A stirring.  A slight breeze.  A subtle HUMMING sound --

A monk stirs in his bed in the nearby monastery; if not
awakened by the strange vibration then by the SHRIEKING
MONKEYS outside.

A vibration.  Something is happening at the core of the
concrete edifice -- it begins to crack --

From inside comes a sound, a terrible, otherworldly
ROAR --

The next transformation has begun.

FROM TWO MILES OUT AT SEA

The island of Hokkaido is shrouded by an ominous
microclimate... a vortex out of which radiates an awful
vibration like the shockwave of a bomb.  A Japanese
fisherman smoking a cigarette on his shrimpboat looks up
in awe.

MACHINE

is lifting, spinning -- dissolving into itself -- leaving
only the vortex of a prodigious wormhole --

DOWNTOWN TOKYO

A thousand neon signs go dark.  New Years revelers look up
in fear.

EXT.  SAN DIEGO ZOO - NIGHT

and the keepers have never known the animals to be so
disturbed.

VIRGINIA SUBURB

Peter Valerian steps out of his front door and stares up
at the sky.  His wife joins him; he silently puts his arm
around her --

WASHINGTON OFFICE

Michael Kitz turns to look out the window at the D.C.
skyline -- fear on his face as he looks down at a picture
of his family, wife and two kids --

BALKANS

Guerrillas look up at the terrifying sky as the GUNFIRE
DIES.

ON SERENGETI

Stampeding wildebeest wheel around seemingly to form a
vast circle.

SOMEWHERE IN PACIFIC

Great swirling pod of dolphin swim in a frenzied circle.

INDIA

A circle of dung beetles in the dust.

EARTH

from Hadden's darkened viewport.  The land obscured by a
rapidly growing cloud that fills the ecosphere.

ELLIE AND JOSS

stand outside a lakeside cabin, transfixed.

A wind picks up.  Grows stronger.

A deep RUMBLING sound, felt more than heard:  a sound too
vast to be any sound at all.  The wind grows stronger.
The LIGHTNING CRACKLES, flushing birds from trees --

And then everything becomes perfectly still -- the
RUMBLING STOPS --

-- a deafening silence -- then --


SOUNDLESS CONCUSSION OF VIOLET LIGHT

high over Times Square -- Kitz's office -- a solitary
farmhouse under the Nebraska sky -- downtown Tokyo -- a
lonely freighter in the middle of the Pacific --
EVERYWHERE --

EXT.  EARTH ORBIT - 250 MILES UP

Looking toward the Earth past the deserted Mir Station --
the brilliant violet flash --

EGYPT

The Valley of the Kings.  The faces of the long dead
Pharaohs bathed in the violet light.

SAHARA

Children stare up in wonder at the same light.

TIME SQUARE/PICCADILLY CIRCUS

People stand frozen in awe.

WASHINGTON D.C.

At the Lincoln Memorial the great man looks down as the
homeless crawl out from their cardboard shelters, bathed
in the brilliant light...

ELLIE AND JOSS

stare up at the sky at an impossible view.

It is the view from the center of the galaxy.  THROUGH the
mouth of the enormous wormhole, we can see the machine
returning to Grand Central Station as a dazzling Aurora
Borealis fills the sky --

VARIOUS SHOTS - ALL OVER THE WORLD

All over the world faces of every race and ethnicity stare
up at a billion blazing multicolored suns lighting up the
heavens, brighter than the brightest day.

The citizens of the Earth look up and wonder as the CHIMES
of MIDNIGHT RING OUT all over the world --

ELLIE

Her eyes filled with tears of wonder and joy, smiles.
She's found what she's been searching for.

								    CUT TO:

BLACK CARD

			   BRING ON THE MILLENNIUM

								    FADE TO BLACK.

					 THE END


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