Arrival

SPOILER ALERT! Do not read this if you haven’t seen the movie. You have been warned! 😉

I generally like SF movies. I’ve seen War of the Worlds four times (the one with Tom Cruise) (I know, I know). I’ve seen Contact, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Interstellar. Loved them all.

science-fiction
Wacky-world creatures. Why not?
Photo (cc) by Jessica Doyle

I don’t particularly like so-called science-fiction that is portrayed in a comic-book manner, in films such as Star Wars and the entire Star Trek oeuvre. I guess what I’m saying is I like a large dose of realism in my worlds of wonder. I like the thrill of watching something fantastic, while my inner voice is saying, “Yes, yes! That could be!”; or of the female protagonist, “I could be her!” – or at least, “I could know her!”

Much of this verisimilitude comes from great acting by the cast, sensitive writing and directing, and fabulous craftspeople who really know what they’re doing in design, cinematography, costumes and so on. It also helps that the filmmakers consulted with an expert on languages as well as with military personnel.

The movie has verisimilitude in spades. From Amy Adams, perfectly inhabiting the role of a slightly-worse-for-wear linguistics professor like an old sweater, to Forest Whitaker, playing a no-nonsense military type, I was pulled into their world.

Meeting the aliens? Believable for me. No little green (or grey!) men to make me yawn and roll my eyes. I have always said that there’s no reason to think of aliens as looking anything like us earthlings. What’s with the two eyes (illustration above notwithstanding), arms and legs all the time? Happily this film (based on Ted Chiang’s novella) does away with that notion.

But what really intrigued me the most about Arrival was its interpretation of time. Time is not linear, the aliens teach us. Rather, it is – or can be – circular, just like their language’s “logograms.” How full of hope this is. I did not foresee the ending, and I just love not being able to predict something in a film. (In fact, it’s one of the reasons I so adored my favourite science-fiction movie of all time, Alien. It had me terrified!)

I look forward to many more movies like this: speculation on the future, on where we’re going, and when, and how… and who or what else is out there, anyway! I’m ready to buy my ticket – on a spaceship, or for the next-best thing – a well-made movie like Arrival.

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