I just saw “Arrival”, starring Amy Adams. This is a really great film, and I am going to try and not spoil it.
The basic plot is that Adams is a linguist who is recruited to help communicate with aliens that have landed their very minimalistic ships on earth. This film is based off of a short story.
I loved this movie. I think that as a film its great, and for language learners it’s great. It is nice to see language learning and linguistics be put as the main topic of a major Hollywood movie.
As a movie
As a film, there was a lot right, but some things that I did not like. Let’s start off with the things I didn’t like. There is a discovery that happens about what the aliens are trying to communicate that messes with your mind. It is a major twist/ revelation in the film. Even though I understood what they were getting at, I did not totally buy the thing the aliens communicate to Amy Adams. One redeeming part of that is that the film never over explains. You don’t have to listen to a character explain everything, except a little bit at the end when Adams explains it after you have already seen a lot of scenes that put it together. The movie shows before Amy Adams tells.
The other thing that I didn’t like about this film was the last 2-5 minutes of dialogue. This writing was Lifetime movie or bad love story status. I can forgive a bit because the rest of the writing was so good, but I wish the last bits of writing were better.
Now, what I liked about the movie. The visuals in this film are really stunning. I loved the minimalistic alien ships, the beautiful landscape of where the ship landed. I also like how there is a sense of mystery about the aliens. You see them, but they are almost always in a fog and behind glass. The aliens are also not too scary or gross. They look different and you immediately are made nervous by them, but you can look at them. The film also does a good job at blurring the lines between figuring out if the aliens are just animals or higher intelligence beings.
The sound design in this is amazing. There is silence at the right times, a very unsettling score, and noises that add to the tension.
As a language learner
This is probably one of the best films about language learning that has come out in the last 10 years. I am not a linguist, I am a person who likes learning languages. Everything relating to language learning here is great.
One of the best parts of the film is that Amy Adams is the linguist. I like that the film has a character who loves languages who is a younger female. I think that it is a shame that polyglots, people who like languages, and linguists are often portrayed as old men that seem dull. There are people who love languages that are female, young, and not in the upper echelon of academia. I really appreciated Amy Adams as the linguist in this film.
All of the communication with the aliens in the film makes sense. It is not really a spoiler to say that Adams relies on written language to communicate with the aliens. The written language of the aliens is interesting and looks like it could actually exist somewhere. The best of all of this is that the logic of using language in the film makes sense throughout.
Ratings 1: lowest 10: highest
Scary: 6/10- any kid above the age of 12, I think, would be fine. The aliens are a bit scary.
Film as a whole: 9.3/10-highley recommended
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