Pupil Contributions, Clifton College

Pupil Contributions, Clifton College

Jason Weereawardena: 20/02/17

The movie “Arrival” is a common movie trope of “first contact” in alien films extended to encompass the entire 120 minute movie and in what can be described as one of the most unique looks at extraterrestrial life and ourselves. The entire movie revolves around communication and trying to understand a language which is in no way based off anything currently spoken on Earth.

The movie begins at the end of the movie so to speak.  While this is not done often, this is not a new thing but what is different here though is that at the start, we think it's a flashback instead of a flash forward.  I don’t think this has been done before and would only work in this movie due to the specific abilities of the aliens and their language.

12 ships have landed around the world in different countries which in the beginning brings humanity closer together as they all work to find out why the aliens are here and what their purpose is. However, the countries of China and Russia eventually jump to the conclusion that the aliens (known as “heptapods”)  are here to hurt us and begin preparations to shoot down the vessel.  This causes a breakdown of communication worldwide, bringing humanity close to the verge of war.

What ends up saving them in the end is the aliens’ language itself which causes people who learn the language not to view time as linear but as circular, leading to the protagonist of the movie recalling what she will do in the future to stop the Chinese from launching an assault on the alien vessel.

‘Arrival’ is a movie that I highly recommend you watch at least once as it shows how a potential barrier of language and communication can also bring all of humanity closer together. It also teaches a lesson as to how errors in communication can (and historically have) lead to bloodshed if a misunderstanding occurs.