Arrival Movie – How it stands out from other sci-fi movies


About Arrival : A linguist is recruited by the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecrafts land around the world.

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Writers: Eric Heisserer (screenplay by), Ted Chiang (based on the story “Story of Your Life” written by)

Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

The movie released in 2016 and still holds a special place in my heart. Read on to know why:

The power of a single dialogue!

“If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?” We, as human beings, perceive our lives in a manner we’ve been told is right. More often than not, we consume ourselves in giving meaning to our innate sadness when it’s actually nothing more than a breeze of melancholy. We live for the conflicts that give us an opportunity to resolve them. Defining ourselves by our losses and rub the wounds that follow with our so-called victories. Before anything else, we talk, even if not out loud. We wonder, we hope, and yet we hold ourselves as nothing more than powerless.


The above thought process was induced in my head by a single line. It literally takes Amy Adams 6 seconds (Yes! I counted) to recite the dialogue, and yet it becomes a question that stays with you forever. Well, why wouldn’t it, for its answer is bound to change with every little transition in your life.

It’s an ode to the power of communication

“Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.” – A Book by Louise Banks. During the complete 116-min runtime of Arrival, the theme of communication is subtly contained in the sci-fi themed interactions of the humans with the Heptapods.


Arrival isn’t a movie that assumes the ever-so accepted norm that aliens have nothing better to do than to plot invasions against an inferior species. It clearly defines an agenda for the extraterrestrial objects paying a visit to our little Blue Planet. Instead of relying on guns and explosions to build the necessary tension, the story uses the power of words; words neither we, nor the characters in the movie understand. The whole plot is built on the power of communication.

Minimalism adds an incomparable level of depth to the visuals of the movie

Despite the fact that all the set pieces are meticulously crafted, and an insane amount of detail is visible in every frame of the movie, the visuals aren’t over the top. There are no buildings collapsing under the weight of enormous centipede shaped organisms strolling across New York’s skyline. The day-and-night cycle of the world isn’t interrupted whatsoever. The mouths of the mysterious visitors aren’t oozing with a lethal variant of saliva.

The Heptapods (aliens in the movie) are exactly what the name suggests; creatures with 7 limbs. The spaceships that arrive are oval shells that float. That is it! In fact, all interactions between the aliens and the humans happen across a glass screen that separates the two. (Not a screen made of some plasma-sciency-beam-something). The visual design is minimal, yet fastidious. And guess what, it works! It more than works. It blows your fucking mind!
(Well, some credit needs to be given to Max Richter’s amazing score as well.)


The film doesn’t try to be pseudo-intellectual
“Trust me, you can, uh, understand communication and still end up single.” – Louise Banks
I second the above statement! Not that my relationship status is of any concern to
you, it proves my point. Arrival isn’t excessively entrenched in the ongoing events to completely forget what its characters are i.e. human!

When a scientist and a linguist get the time to talk to each other, they talk about normal stuff. The movie doesn’t throw a discussion about the fragility of time in your face. (Even though it’s a running theme in the movie) There’s humor in bits and parts. There’s drama where it’s needed. Even though the movie tends to slow its pace down at times, it doesn’t
feel like a documentary.

It pushes the idea that life is a palindrome (How fucking cool is that?)

Google defines a palindrome as a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backwards as forwards. Without getting into spoiler territory, all I can say is that in a way, all our lives are like that of Louise. (Or Ian, at the least) Every 5 years or so (or every 5 minutes if you’re someone like me), we live our life backwards and ponder over the fact that we shouldn’t have ordered a freaking pizza for dinner. (Oh! That’s just me.)


Well, I’ll just leave you with a name: Hannah! Watch the movie if you haven’t already, and this crap might make sense to you. It bashes the idea that aliens don’t like visiting any other country other than the US. Well, this might not be a big deal for anyone, but it just adds to the overall realism of the movie (and acts as a blow to the Jupiter-sized ego of Donald Trump). Even though the portrayal of certain countries as blind aggressors is a bit stereotypical, the interpretation of a global threat at a global scale is a fresh change of pace for Hollywood.

It doesn’t end with a deafening explosion

Arrival is a movie about aliens that doesn’t end with a huge kaboom. I like that!
In a nutshell, Arrival is a masterpiece, and you don’t have the right to call yourself a
nerd if you haven’t watched it. (Nerds are cool, okay!)

-Angad Singh



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