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Seen: Arrival, by Denis Villeneuve

Film poster of "Arrival"Being always attracted by original science fiction plots, I wanted to see that movie as early as I learned about it, which was today – better late than never. It was surely visibly and audibly impressive, even in a small theater room, and its aesthetics beyond what I expect in the genre. The cast performed in a very fine way, playing in the style on a theater stage. Settings, camera and cut backed the actors very well, being slow and giving room for their performance.
It is a slow movie, salted by fast, contrasting scenes, when the panic of mankind is shown – triggered by the movie's main topic: The arrival of aliens from outer space, or somewhen else.

But the new guys on earth act slow. Their ships, counting 12, hover above ground, opening just holes for some time every day to make  direct communication possible. Since they refuse to speak English, translation is needed. So a star linguist is brought to the scene to find out what those others are all about. She immedeately starts her work, bringing advance to the welcome-to-earth-project lead by frustrated military personnel.

Like in every movie I like, I found citations of other movies I like, more or less. Same here: I've seen the glass screen dividing fishy mankind and the goody aliens (from The Abyss), the more-than-clever good-looking female scientiest who puzzles together the alien's output and is bound in grief for a deceased family member (from Contact) and the not at the spot detectible and audience-puzzling disarray of time (liked the experience in Memento).

This film touched me as a work of art, on the other hand I was disappointed to some extent by the shallowness of its science and philosophy. The alien language opens a door much much wider than, exempli gratia, Stargate. But both the way how this language is learned and the philosphical implications to epistemology are a bit thin, even when there are a few hints. When the protagonist has the spell-breaking idea to use a little whiteboard to extend communication from audible to visible signals, I was not so much impressed. And when she learned what the language has done to her, we do not learn how she is handling that, only what she had suffered, or not, from this impact on her mind. Well, but that's fine, it is a really good movie, and it is not a story from Stanislav Lem.

 

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