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Adolf Hitler, Bill Clinton and CNN reporters in Contact

by Critical Commons Manager

The blurring of fact and fiction on television and in cinema has become a trope of contemporary media, whereby real-world television reporters and political personalities are woven into a fictional narrative scenario. These two sequences from Contact exemplify cinematic extremes of this practice, positioning no fewer than 13 CNN reporters including Larry King and Bernard Shaw alongside fictional actors. Interestingly, this multi-screen televisual montage literalizes its bridging of the fact/fiction binary within a single aerial tracking shot which transitions from a visual effects filter simulating re-scanned video footage to full resolution, progressive frame live action cinema.

Ultimately, press conference footage of then President Bill Clinton's 1996 "Mars rock" speech is recut to appear as if the President is talking about receipt of an alien television broadcast featuring Adolf Hitler opening the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. Upon the film's release, the White House protested Warner Brothers' use of Clinton's image in the film. CNN, likewise apparently had second thoughts about the extent to which its reporters were implicated in the fictional narrative of Contact, perhaps due to its incidental foregrounding of corporate connections between CNN and Warner Brothers via their shared ownership by Time Warner. Subsequent to Contact, CNN revised its policies to limit such exposure of their on-air personalities.

TV fiction and reality in Contact

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The appearance of CNN reporters in Contact blurred boundaries of fact and fiction

from Contact (1997)
Creator: Robert Zemeckis
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Posted by Critical Commons Manager