I’m really blown away by this, feeling much like I did at the conclusion of Europa Report. Some sci-fi films go beyond the stupidity of the Hollywood system and manage to not be dumb vehicles for stars. But it’s a rarity.
Arrival manages to give us something new, in subtle hints that culminate in a big moment and a big ending. Obviously I can’t tell you what that is.
But I can mention another big idea and that is the glaring need for an evolutionary change to move humanity beyond war. Films like Arrival cast light on the real problems seething across the globe and how the age of hydrogen bombs upped the stakes. Since the 1940s it has been a MAD world, where the nuclear powers threaten us all with mutually-assured destruction.
I’ll also mention the obvious move of making Arrival a female-driven story, with Amy Adams providing the missing part of the national security state narrative, the part that keeps us from blowing it all to hell.
If barbaric goons like Trump and Bannon don’t throw the world into complete chaos then we may have a shot. Wind and solar energy have shown people across the globe that fighting over oil is stupid and counterproductive. We are entering an age of energy plenty, a significant turning point to reduce some of the motives for past wars. Cooperation is preferable to most people, and as we evolve to solve the most pressing problems facing us, international cooperation may become easier to justify and to sustain, and to sell.
It shouldn’t take an alien menace to keep us from blowing up the planet.