Science Fiction has always been my favourite genre ever since I discovered series like Doctor Who, Blake’s Seven, and Space: 1999 and was sealed when I first saw Star Wars.
I didn’t manage to see Arrival when it first came out last year, but finally managed to watch it this weekend.
I didn’t have high hopes as I’d heard mixed reviews, but found it to be far better than I’d expected and a seriously intriguing film.
The trailer really doesn’t give anything away. Yes, there are huge egg shaped space ships. Yes, there are creepy aliens behind a smokey screen. Yes, there is an attempt to communicate with them and a tension as the world superpowers become terrified the aliens are trying to turn them against each other.
But it’s what the trailer leaves out that makes this movie compelling.
The story is ultimately about language and the question of how do you solve the problem of learning a new language when you’ve no basis for understanding. But there is another aspect to the story that I won’t discuss as the revelation is part of what makes the movie work so well on a human level and also as one of the great science fiction movies.
I spent two years learning the Tajik language when I lived in Tajikistan. On one level, everyone can learn a language – it’s almost automatic that we pick things up just by being in the presence of different words. On another, we can accelerate that process as we choose to put more time in, to research new concepts, to experiment with different ways of learning.
I’ve absorbed so much Sci-Fi over the years that the concept of learning an alien language could seem overdone, but Arrival brings a beauty and intelligence to the process.
I found Arrival to be thrilling, intelligent and heart-breaking. I highly recommend it.
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray now.