Arrival: Trying to Understand Alien’s Language With Louise

Reach aliens through language

Language major may not be the most well-known major in every university. A lot of students put management or engineering as their to priority when applying for university. Language or Literature are in the least. I do not the condition in the other country, but in my country, Language and Literature major are not the favorite. I know that they are good but the fact said so. However, if you think beyond that, learning languages means learning the greatest invention of human being. Wikipedia said it is complex but specific system of communication. Complex because it comes from it developed from time to time and specific because there are between 5,000 and 7,000 in the world. But, how if we want to keep contact with extraterrestrial being? The film Arrival will tell you the answer.

The story revolve around Louise Banks, a Linguist and a lecturer. She had a daughter but she lost her daughter because of cancer. But, she frequently dream of her daughter night by night. Later, she continues her life by lecturing in university until twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft, called “heptapods,” appear across the planet. US Army Colonel, Weber, asks her to join the team in US military camp in Montana. There, she met Ian Donnelly, a physicist, and they and their team has to contact the alien. After series of research, Louise discovers that the aliens (Ian calls them Abbot and Costello) communicate through complex circular symbols.  After analyzing some symbols, Louise got the word “offer weapon”. The other linguist from other country got the similar message, “use weapon”. Army from around the world, translate it as the alien has declared a war against human being but Louise has different opinion.

[/media-credit] Understand alien’s alphabets

Louise thinks Abbot and Costello can differ between a weapon and a tool. Some countries are ready to attack but Louise and Ian chose to contact Abbot and Costello once again. Their message becomes more complex than before. Ian later discovers that the symbol somehow related with the concept of time. He and Louise demand a cooperation instead of a war. However, Chinese military are planning to attack the pod in its coast. Running out of time, Louise come back to the pod but Abbott is dying. Costello told her that her dream reveals “flash-forward.” The aliens come to help humanity to understand time as “a weapon.” Louise returned to the camp, told everything she got from Costello. Her vision told her to reach General Shang in China and convince him to do a fatal mistake.


If you see a film about aliens and humans, almost all of them will lead to a disastrous war. Aliens are the evil and the men are the hero. The film ends with the victory and heroism of human being. However, Arrival does not go in that way. Instead of a war, aliens come in peace and offer a favor to humanity because thousand years later, they will need human’s help in return. For me, this concept is mind-blowing. Human aggressive tendency almost led us into an extinction until Louise’s vision tell the truth. The acting from Amy Adam is just wonderful. She makes me feel nervous but optimistic about the alien’s coming. She successfully opens my mind that warm-hearted always lead to peace. However, I do not know the direction of the film until half of the duration. Arrival “forces” its audience to think very carefully and solve the puzzle. May be it is just me, but I need more references to understand the film. The film is amazing but in the same time, it confuses me very much. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 94% but for me, it just 3.9 out of 5. But, of course, you are free to have different opinion.

Producers : Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder, David Linde
Directors : Denis Villeneuve
Writers : Eric Heisserer
Starring : Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma

Overall Rating: 3.9 of 5

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