This is the idea behind Contact, that moments of joy will eventually break down when exterior forces exert themselves. In this case, a couple are having a lovely day out in the gently rolling hills, well in a simulcrum of gorgeous gently rolling hills, and then one blinks out of scene. This is the beginning of a cataclysm, it appears. A cataclysm that is befalling the group of pods that are heading out to a new world.
Let's not beat around the bush, this is a science fiction story about first contact. It's a science fiction story about first contact where the contact is only a tiny part of the story. The real story is what matters in those moments, what we want to know, how we process the existential threats and the little things that we need to know, what to discover, wish we could have more of. That's Contact, a film about the end of the world, for varying values of the World, that deals with the immediate, the small, the emotional, the moment of watching a massive disaster that we never see, that we don't need to see.
The script here is ideal for the kind of acting we get. There's the couple, loving men who manage to make us care about them with so little time together, who have a layered interaction which makes the rest of the short that much more painful. There's the computer voice, and it's incredible voice-acting. She manages to infuse the film with a sort of painfully cold, calculation that makes the emotional responses, nuanced and at times perfectly measured, all the more impressive.
A wonderful film, one with so much power in all the details, as well as the absolute chutzpah it takes to make a film about first contact where we never see the contact, but we realise that this sort of event is not merely the massive effect on the pods, but on those who live, love, and lose along the path.
You can see Contact as a part of the Mindbenders showing at 3Below on FRI 3/2; 11:30PM and FRI 3/9; 9:00PM, and at the Century Redwood City on MON 3/5; 5:30PM and SAT 3/10; 10:20PM (RWC 10)