By MEHER MASALAWALA
April 26, 2017
“Arrival is a measured film that takes its time to unfold but manages to compel the audience into contemplating the connection between time and our seemingly linear lives.”
For a movie about aliens, you sure do learn a lot about humans and the way our perceptions work.
Arrival is a measured film that takes its time to unfold but manages to compel the audience into contemplating the connection between time and our seemingly linear lives. The arrival of aliens and their unique language embed the primary character, Louise, with the ability to see time non-linearly. She is able to live within her past, present and future.
Amy Adams stars as linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks that is recruited to communicate with the aliens that have descended on earth with their spaceships alongside physicist Ian Donelly played by Jeremy Renner. There are 12 of them scattered among different countries that have put their best experts on the task of gleaning the answer of the biggest question of all, why are these aliens here?
Primarily, everyone collaborates on the task of decoding the written language of the “heptapods” (since the aliens are squid-like with seven tentacles) but one incorrect translation brings war to earth’s doorstep since human beings do have a tendency to attack first and then think.
This aspect could be a commentary on human beings’ addiction to war and attacking people they or things they don’t understand. What was meant to be “use gift,” was understood as “use weapon.” This miscommunication lead to the possibility of going to war with the aliens.
This aspect could be a commentary on human beings’ addiction to war and attacking people they or things they don’t understand.
Dr. Banks, however, is unconvinced and has to race to find the true meaning of what was communicated.
Denis Villeneuve’s film puts one in the eerie situation of seeing a world that looks very familiar but slowly starts to become foreign as you start to narrow the distance from the knowledge that it presents.
Arrival is about the importance of language and being able to communicate and understand each other. Human beings are war machines, that are controllable if gifted with understanding.
This is not an invasion or death ray guns firing type of film. It is based on a short story by Ted Chiang called “Story of Your Life” and is truly of the science fiction genre, because it pushes the boundaries of how we see the world and ourselves. The cinematography by Bradford Young captures the foreboding yet exciting mood of the story very well.
Amy Adams has done a marvelous job, she is our guide on this new terrain and as she slowly starts to understand what is being conveyed, so do we. When she has her first encounter with the curved black stone looming out on the field as she is to enter it, she and we are trembling surrounded by its ominous presence.
This film brings us up close and personal to many things, especially our own selves.