I was looking forward to seeing the film Arrival. It was promoted as an intellectual sort of film about aliens, with little in the way of explosions and death, and more on the level of cerebral discourse.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I came away wondering if something was lost in the adaptation. The screenplay was based on a short story by Ted Chiang, Story of Your Life. Sometimes it is hard to translate the written word into a visual representation onscreen, and I suspected this might have been a problem of translation, in terms of the written word onto the screen.
One screen adaptation I really enjoyed was The Shawshank Redemption. The screenplay was based on a short story by Stephen King called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. I read the story after having seen the film and the screenwriter did an exemplary job translating it to a full-length film. This film was not up to that standard. I am going to read Story of Your Life, and determine for myself how this film could have been better.
Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is selected to travel to a site in Montana where a spaceship has landed in order to hopefully communicate with the aliens. The pod shaped spaceship is just one of twelve that has mysteriously descended upon the earth. She is a linguist, and to me her willingness to face the aliens is never fully explored. What has made her such a daring young woman to go there with no support from anyone she knows?
Also in attendance is a physicist, Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), reporting along with Louise to Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). If someone doesn’t figure out why the aliens have come to earth, war against them will commence.
What I did like was the depiction of the communication by the aliens. They were shooting out what looked like ink from their octopus looking appendages, kind of in a Rorschach inkblot way, and it was Louise’s job as a linguist to interpret or crack their language in order to see what these pod aliens wanted.
I thought that Louise and Ian’s relationship was not fully explored as the days progressed, and I think that was a mistake. It would have added more to the film and helped fill in the blanks. The film has to do with time, how modern society is aware of time passing in a linear fashion, whereas quantum physics postulate that time exists all at once, perhaps inter dimensionally?
The film is rated PG-13 for brief strong language. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Film Editing. It won only Best Achievement in Sound Editing, not that it is a small award, just that it was the only one of eight they were nominated for that won. I’d recommend you watch the other nominated films first and leave this one for last, for when you have the time.