Arrival: How Communication can Save the World
One of the most interesting American movies of the last year is the Oscar-nominated Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve.
One of the most interesting American movies of the last year is the Oscar-nominated Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve. It is based on the book Story of Your Life, written by Ted Chiang, and is a science fiction film about the arrival on Earth of twelve alien spacecrafts.
Louise Banks (Amy Adms), a renowned linguist who had lost her little daughter to cancer, is hired by the U.S. Government to communicate with these aliens. Nobody knows what these “space strangers” want from Earth and many nations are preparing to attack them. The fear of the unknown drives humanity to violence and the only way to avoid war is to communicate with these “others”.
The entire movie is a reflection on language, and its power to explain differences to the world. The first word that Louise manages to express to the aliens is “HUMAN”, and this becomes the first step of a mutual comprehension between “us” and “them”.
It is not the first time that cinema explores the theme of communication between humans and extra-terrestrial life. In 1977, Steven Spielberg, with his movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, uses music as a way for humans and aliens to understand each other. Five years later, with E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Spielberg shows the friendship between a human child and an alien, called “E.T.”, who learns human language to speak with the child. Arrival elaborates on this theme. The focal point of this movie is that the aliens come to the Earth to teach humans a universal language.
Louise Banks will discover that this language is not only a way to describe the world, but also to see beyond the boundaries of time, removing divisions between past and future. This awareness will drive her to understand the value of life, which she reveals with these words: “despite knowing the journey and where it leads, I embrace and I welcome every moment”.
Ted Chiang believes that science fiction, by creating paradoxical situations, has the ability to explain reality. The arrival of the aliens is essentially an opportunity to explore human nature and how we interact with others. Without comprehension, there is fear, and fear drives us to violence. When we understand others, we achieve a wider view of the world, and this drives the ability to love.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Screenplay: Eric Heisserer (based on the novel Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang)
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma, Abigail Pniowsky, Julia Scarlett Dan, Jadyn Malone