‘Arrival’ explores themes of space and time
The space-themed thriller, “Arrival,” tackles the sci-fi genre with a surprising side story — world peace.
“Arrival,” which hit theaters Nov. 11, offers a poignant message about finding interconnectedness in a world divided by oceans, languages and opposite political atmospheres.
The sci-fi thriller explores the complex ideas of space and time while centering around the life of Dr. Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams), a brilliant linguist who is called into action when 12 mysterious pods from space touch down on Earth’s surface.
Banks’s job is to attempt communication with the aliens as she teams up with a bright physicist, Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner), and a team of scientists and military personnel to monitor their behavior in an attempt to find out many questions, but most of all: What is their purpose on Earth?
As Banks spends many days establishing a dialogue with the aliens, which Donnelly names Heptapods in light of their seven large tentacles, her journey to understand quickly becomes internal, causing her to experience vivid dreams and hallucinations of a life she has not lived.
What the viewer learns from Dr. Banks and her team is that, when a person studies and understands another language, it can alter the way that person thinks. The Heptapods communicate in a language that’s non-linear. For them, time passes differently because the future is already known.
Rather than focusing on the life of the aliens and the danger they possess, “Arrival” focuses on the alien’s impact on life on Earth and in the way that humans interact with one another.
Tensions become high when major world powers are handling the presence of the Heptapods in different ways. After the Heptapods send a message to “use weapon,” many nations, including unhappy protestors in the U.S., want to turn to lethal force. This causes nations to enforce radio silence in an effort to keep their intelligence secret.
Later, the viewer learns the Heptapods’ purpose on Earth is to give us the gift of their language, and to force our divided planet to work together in order to obtain it. By using their gift of future insight, Banks gets visions from the future to help her stop a war of worlds and learn of her future with Donnelly that includes both immense happiness and despair.
Once the battle is said and done, the alien pods disappear into a mist, leaving Banks with the final question: If you were to know all the details of your life, both beautiful and painful, would you go on to live it and accept the beauty, or choose another path to avoid the pain?