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This is great headbanger sci-fi, centering more on philosophy than science. If you read books in this genre, you know that the good ones do that. We have the usual paranoid military versus inquisitive scientists doing all of the battle in this one, which sets up the main question being explored in this film -- why do that? But the logical question the characters want answered is -- what do you want? That one does get answered, but only in quick passing, and it doesn't seem very relevant. The theme is a bit like that of The Day the Earth Stood Still (both versions). In those, the alien message was, get your shit together or be history. In this one its more like, please get your shit together because .... and to finish that is too much of a spoiler.
Language, thought and cultural patterning is the focus of the action, as Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner try to form a common basis for communication. With the aliens.
Interwoven into this scenario is the touching and tragic personal history of Adams, who seemingly is subjected to time-wharping visions by the aliens to sharpen her focus for their mission. There is a huge ah-ha moment at the end of two hours which helps tie the sequences together for viewers. Not too many ah-ha moments any more in films.
In all, a very entertaining film worth the time, providing much to ponder. Although Adams was practically the movie, I thought she played it too understated. Maybe Oscar voters felt the same.
All I know is that I'll never look at a plate of calamari the same again.
Edits: 02/16/17Follow Ups:
$5.99 with 48 hrs to view it.
I have a much more informed understanding of the films' intentions now that I've seen it twice. Maybe that first viewing in the theatre managed to overload my somewhat limited cognitive capabilities. The second viewing in a more confortable environment, and on a smaller and friendlier screen gave much further insight for me to chew on.
When Dr. Louise Banks, in the alien ship, took off her hazmat suit, walked up to the transparent barrier and placed her hand to the glass...and one of the aliens placed one of its "pods" up against the glass opposite her hand, there was a telepathic comunication between that alien and Louise. From that moment forward, Louise began having visions of her dead daughter Hannah. This Louise found to be emotionally overwhelming, yet with each vision came a clue about what the aliens wanted to comunicate.
In the end it was determined that the aliens did not wish to give humanity a 'weapon'. That was miscommunication. The real intent was that the aliens wanted to give humanity a 'gift' with which to help these aliens 3000 years into the future.
The gift, it turns out was the language of the symbols that they had been drawing for Louise. And that this language, when decoded, could be used by all who understood it.....offering a common means of communication between all humans on earth. But it was more than that. It was not only to communicate with one another, but with which to envision future events.
The aliens leave. Happy ending.
That's the short version. Lots of detail not explained here. I think at some point I will likely acquire a blu-ray of the movie to park alongside my other notable sci-fi flics on the rack I keep.
This is a very thoughtful movie. It's tones are somber, but not gloomy. It offers both a sense of loss and a sense of hope for the future.
I liked it and recommend it for those willing take a 2 hr. plunge into the world it renders.
They helped a lot, enjoyed it much better than at the theater. Wife loved it.
"E Burres Stigano?"
I did not like Arrival. It's probably because after talking to some others I didn't get it. Kind of like the ending of the Birds. I'll have to rent it again.
When I was about 12, I'm 60 now, I took a bus trip intown with a friend to see 2001 in about 1967 0r 68. Before the movie started a man came out an announced there would be a meeting for those who wanted to go and discuss the movie and to see if they understood the plot. We never went. I didn't get it and wondered at the time if the apes in the beginning were real or not. The old man in bed at the ending was haunting to me still to this day.
Time went on and I was a freshman at U.R.I. in 75/76 about 18 or 19 years old. It was a Friday night and 2001 was playing at this giant theater. It was jammed to the rafters and pot smoke was everywhere.
It was dead quiet when the movie began and the words came on the screen...(The dawn of mankind).
At that silent critical point a stoner calmly exclaimed Where's Tony Orlando? A small laugh began that spread like a virus thru the crowd and that 2001 movie became like the ending brawl scene in Blazing Saddles.
I still don't know what the monolith meant....Mark Korda
When mankind could reach out and touch it, it was time to keep a closer eye on us. It's like a home security sensor.
The monolith, initially functioned as an intelligence inducer. In the 'Dawn of Mankind' scenes the monolith taught those primitive hominids to build tools. By touching the monolith, the apes become more aware....and eventually evolve into human beings.
Eons later human-kind finds a monolith on the moon. The monolith sends a message to Jupiter. Human-kind travels to Jupiter where the larger monolith was in orbit about that planet. One surviving human comes into contact with that orbiting monolith and begins a journey through some sort of portal (perhaps a wormhole) to a distant planet where the human goes through yet another evolution. This much tells us that the monolith makers were still interested in human development. Or perhaps it is just a program that the monoliths run. We don't know.
Further clues can be found in the movie 2010 and then in Clarke's novels; 2061 and finally 3001. In the novel 2061 human-kind assumes that the monolith makers aren't interested any more in the human specie. Or maybe that the monolith makers just aren't around anymore. But they're not certain, mostly.
Even more answers to be found in the novel 3001, where Dr. Frank Poole is found dead, revived and lives out the rest of his life, one thousand years after his murder by Hal 9000.
Worth a read for those who need to know.
Clarke had a fairly infectious narative style. An easy read.
"E Burres Stigano?"
Yes. I revisit that movie from time to time. More fun. The original movie, 2001...not so much.
Link to synopsis at page bottom
comment: Back in 1968 there was also lots of confusion and dislike with regard to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Oddysey. A film that asked questions and then failed to answer them...mostly. Yet that film lives on in society's collective sci-fi memory.
This is why I will give the film Arrival another careful viewing just to make sure I get the important plot points and then can decide if I like it or not. Competing with that thought is another, however. And that thought is ;I really don't want to pay to sit through it again.
I wanted to add this to my OP, but my ADHD meds ran out. The science themes are focused in 2 fields: space/time/gravity, and comm/language/linguistics.
The relativity stuff we vaguely all get by now, but when incorporated into a movie's theme, it drives us nuts as viewers. Viewing is a linear occupation, so when they bounce around like that, we all lose our minds. Before and now becomes now and later, then we go off into before and later, bypassing now. Driving like that leads to accidents.
I had trouble with the translating efforts. The aliens were using what looked like a logoform type of symbology, like Chinese do. A "letter" is a pictorial representation of a thought, not an arbitrary abstract symbol used within larger symbols representing sounds representing thought. Several layers of abstraction leading to communication of a thought. The effort didn't start with pictorials or illustrations; they went straight for the abstractions, bypassing best chances for establishing common ground, like they were UN translators instead of linguistic scientists. I thought they really screwed this part up, which was the major effort of the movie.
The resulting point did get across -- just how would we go about breaking such a barrier without having someone previously set up for telepathy?
When they showed swifts of smoke that were translated into Complete Sentences, well, way over my head.
What a shocking contrast with the alien from The Day Earth Stood Still, who actually used his travel time to learn perfect American English.
These guys apparently just drank, eat and had generally good time on their way here. I was going to say - had sex too, but one can easily be confused between all those eight... or seven, legs.
How many positions would be there?
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