Carl Sagan’s final project was the film “Contact”. Unfortunately, Sagan never got to see the end results. He died a few months before the premiere as a result of cancer he’d been fighting for two years. Contact was a Warner Bros. production starring Jodie Foster and directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film is based on the novel of the same name written by Carl Sagan and published in 1985. Sagan wrote the film script together with his wife Ann Druyan.

On this panel, you can see the illustration created in 1985 by Jon Lomberg for the front cover of the novel. Also seen are the storyboards used to create some of the film’s scenes.

The first two storyboards, ‘Leaving the Earth’ and ‘Leaving the Galaxy’, make up the first scene of the film. The third, ‘the wormhole cometh’ has an interesting story behind it. It was designed with the scientific advice of Kip Thorne, recently awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for the discovery of gravitational waves. In the film, Jodie Foster’s character travels through a series of wormholes, almost as though they were underground stations. After reaching the star Vega during the first trip, she sees appearing before her the entry to a second wormhole which connects to the centre of the galaxy. Kip Thorne insisted on departing from the typical representation of a tunnel through space or a vortex like those used to depict black holes. Rather, he proposed that what should be seen be a distorted image of space at the other side. The image appears convex to us, as though seen through the peephole of a door. Perhaps given the scene was already fairly complicated for viewers to follow, the director decided to forego these scenes and use the allegorical tunnel, disregarding Thorne’s advice.

In the display case you can see a first edition signed personally by Carl Sagan and Jon Lomberg. There is also a letter sent by Carl Sagan, his last message to Lomberg before he died:

6 de Julio de 1995

Querido Jon,

   Gracias por tu carta del mes pasado, y por favor perdóname por ser tan lento en responder. Me dicen que estoy haciendo buenos progresos hacia la recuperación, aunque tengo algunos días buenos y otros malos. Nos alegró mucho recibir las buenas noticias sobre tu familia, y en cuanto al trabajo, Annie y yo hemos estado peleándonos con los re-escritores del guión. Espero que este proceso alcance pronto una conclusión asintótica, para poder volver a otros asuntos de la película incluyendo el arte. Me gusta tu “playa y ola”, pero puede que sea un poco demasiado cerebral para el estudio – aunque puede que no. Tendremos ocasión de hablar.

Con mis mejores deseos,

Carl Sagan