Saturday, October 7, 2017

What's Next On My List? Arrival

I am going to write a bit of a personal entry instead of the typical review, in case you are looking for that I would much rather have you go to imdb, instead of reading my details and thoughts on the movie. However, if you are interested you are welcome to see what emotions this movie got out of me. Let's then cover:


Dr. Louise Banks is recruited by the army as a linguist specialist to help them communicate with one of the alien vessels that landed on planet Earth. She starts to work alongside a physicist, Ian Donnelly, and together in a matter of long months start to learn the language that the so called 'heptapods' speak. They realize that their written language is different from the spoken, and not only that, but they realize that the written one holds certain elements which enable the mind to travel back and forth in time. However, only those who speak this language are able to see time.

I remember the exact day this movie came out in Hungary last year, it was on the birthday of my teacher, the one who actually made me read the short story on which this movie was based (Ted Chiang's "The Story Of Your Life"). There was a conference at the university and I spent the day with my friend, who that weekend went to see the film. She told me something afterwards that I don't think I will ever forget for as long as I live: she said that she feels 'detached from reality'. I guess me not being able to understand what she meant was one of the reasons why our friendship ended short after. Because of this I have been putting off this movie and have been putting off reading the short story, both of which she recommended to me. Somehow I felt that as long as I haven't read or seen it there was perhaps a chance that her presence in my life had not come to an end. I still don't know what she meant, don't think I ever will find it out, however, I know how I feel after getting acquainted with the story and my words would be 'lost'. Is that the same? Could be. I couldn't tell you for sure. And why do I feel lost? Because our understanding of time is linear, whilst that of the heptapods isn't. It makes me question if we live life right. It makes me question if I personally am living my life right. Is the fact that we are put under pressure by society's understanding of time absolutely necessary for one to survive?

"- Ian?
- Yeah?
- If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?
- Maybe I'd say what I feel more often."

I would say that 'survive' is not the best word, actually. Mostly because it implies that pressure is very much there. But here I would like to turn to the genius of this story. If we could tell what is going to happen, would we change it? I find that Louise's decision to live her life, even if knowing the pain that lay ahead is remarkable. She is capable of reliving some of the most painful things a person could ever face in one life time and she is faced with them daily. But what does she do? She keeps the bad because that means that she can keep the good. I sometimes hold on way too long despite the pain because I love remembering the good things. I have a fear in me that if I let go I'll lose the good too. It might sound dumb to some, but it is essential to me. Seeing this movie was the last promise I made to that friend, and I felt that until I didn't that link would be there. I watched it now because the pain has beaten the good and I need to let go before it becomes completely unbearable. At the end of the movie I was sitting and I had to ask myself: 'would do it all over again even if I knew how it would end'? The answer is yes every time.

Turning to an actual review: all those people telling you that this movie is brilliant were not lying. As far as the actors are concerned it is 10/10, the music and the visuals too are a home run. The short story was changed, slightly, as the movie focuses very much on the outside's world reaction to the arrival of the aliens. And you know what? I loved that. Chaos everywhere. When this story was adapted they grasped the essence of men so well that it was almost terrifying. Let's shoot at it, let's steal, riot, commit unlawful acts because if aliens arrive for some reason we are allowed to be ruled by fear and under fear the first reaction is to rob stores. This sounds far fetched actually written down but we have recorded cases of this! This is how we behave, complete anarchy: in the fear of losing our own lives we have no problem stepping over another person. The addition of the human element I think was wonderfully thought out and written. Not to mention that with it the story had a sort of time travel element that in the short story was only focused on Louise's memories, instead of actual actions. That made it even cooler, I need to say! Truly a marvelously adapted movie, among the top 5 at least.

Watch it? I highly recommend it. I think I personally need about ten years or so before I can rewatch it, I was sobbing pretty hard towards the end. Beautiful story that finally focuses on something other than the appearance of an alien or the apocalyptic world that it is likely to leave behind after first contact.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ 

Louise Banks - Amy Adams
Ian Donnelly - Jeremy Renner
Colonel Weber - Forest Whitaker
Agent Halpern - Michael Stuhlbarg
Captain Marks - Mark O'Brien
General Shang - Tzi Ma

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