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Filmspotting Message Boards => Movie Talk (Spoiler Edition) => Topic started by: Bondo on November 11, 2016, 01:35:16 PM

Title: Arrival
Post by: Bondo on November 11, 2016, 01:35:16 PM
I reckon pretty much all discussion of this film will need to happen here instead of in the main review thread.

I'd count myself as extremely intellectually impressed by the film but not fully on board overall. While I'd say it deals with time issues far better than Interstellar, the way that is woven in feels a bit heavy handed, both at the moment, and in hindsight when you know why these "memories" were being interspersed.

But this is definitely a movie for the era, with its focus on linguistics and how the use and varying interpretations of language can have profound effects on how we think and act. One thing that struck me was how Louise discusses that if our language is introduced in the form of chess or mah jongg, some game or contest that has a winner and a loser and is thus zero-sum, that will change the use of language learned by the aliens, and thus how it is reflected back to us and might be interpreted differently. I think about how we talk about the election in almost purely horse-race terms, who won or lost. And granted, having all these individual districts where one person wins and one person loses spurs that. Imagine though if we had a nationwide proportional representation system electing a coalition government based on shares of the vote. Ultimately some views will end up advantaged and others not, but it isn't as immediate. Would this change how we approach politics, would this allow for less zero-sum thinking (which leads to obstructionism) and more non-zero-sum thinking (which the film directly cites), where we can try to find common links. Obviously, the countries that have these systems are far from free of problems, but they do seem to function better (see Patterns of Democracy by Arend Lijphart).

The time concepts feel a bit more abstract and is a bit where the film loses me. I see the benefit of the kind of long vision shaping our ability to relate, but it is taken to a purely supernatural kind of level (which is maybe a weird thing to critique in a film with aliens). Ultimately, this kind of acts as a very good linguistics lecture snuck through to the masses (well, to the degree that this film gets watched) by a slickly designed movie guise. And I couldn't be happier about that, I love interesting lectures.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Beavermoose on November 11, 2016, 07:51:39 PM
It's follows a disproven theory that the way our language functions forms our perception of space-time so obviously once it reaches the point where we understand what the "flashbacks" are we've moved into heavy sci-fi territory. It's definitely a movie that will benefit from multiple viewings.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on November 12, 2016, 07:53:45 AM
I only grasped one thin edge of the whole before the end. Adams was too young to have a fully grown child die on her. I am bowled over that what you see in the first five minutes is much more than the set of memories, because its natural to assume thats what they are. Gorgeous. Then Renner says I didn't know you were married. Wow.

This is so spoilery that I feel bad not putting it in spoiler tags even in here DONT READ IT!

Adams knows her daughter who is Renner's daughter is going to die as a teenager. She even tells her daughter that is the reason dad/Renner leaves them....in the future....because she knows her daughter has an incurable illness from birth and she only tells Renner long after the daughter is born. She knows then, she knows when Renner suggests they have a baby, she knows she will die....BLOODY HELL! No wonder people wanna go straight back in and watch it again! Now did she contract the disease that kills her daughter in the ship? Hoo boy.

Anyone who's read Slaughterhouse 5 is gonna feel a real sense of delight when they get to this point in the film, oh boy.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on November 12, 2016, 07:59:05 AM
For me, the science fiction also doubled as a spiritual approach: would you live your life the same knowing in advance the possible karmic debt you will incur?
To me, it's a wonderful twist upon the age old question: would you change anything in your life knowing what you know now?
The Twist, as it were, while telegraphed, was lightly handled and not given its true emotional weight all at once. It was slowly built up.
I completely agree about multiple viewings. I already want to see it again.


Edit:

In total agreement w/ verbals here. The power of her agreeing to make  a baby in spite of knowing the pain it's going to cause her . You simply feel how much she loves her child, and all of those singular moments. Those memories she will cherish will be made so much more powerful through this process.  By being able to step outside of time she is able to live more deeply in the present. It's an incredibly powerful moment. It still brings up tears.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on November 12, 2016, 08:09:35 AM
He almost could have repeated the first five minutes of the film at the end. It would have destroyed me.

The bit about her dad suddenly looking at her differently. Blimey.

I should imagine being inside that film again as it discusses memory would feel...meta? Wierd? I'll have to try it. Talk about an experience movie!
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Bondo on November 12, 2016, 08:10:56 AM
I guess what dampens the philosophical weight for me is I'm not sure time is presented as being malleable. It might in part be shown as she choose to have this child, knowing the pain to come, because she also knew the joys, but on the other hand, that she knows this is the future shows that it was never actually a choice. Or are her visions of the future like Alice's visions in Twilight, just projections based on current intentions, updated any time they have a change of heart.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on November 12, 2016, 08:57:39 AM
Even if the future "memories" show an unalterable destiny. It is her choice to be fully present with the pain and suffering in order to be fully present with the joy as well. You can strip the past and future away and live only in the now because you already know what is coming and what has been.
That was a very powerful moment for me.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on November 12, 2016, 01:01:42 PM
I just had to nip out and buy more straws for this thread.

Babel 17 by Samuel Delaney has a quite similar discussion of language and even talks about it being weaponised. Louise talks about having your brain reprogrammed if you start to think in another language. Beautiful idea. I'd have to watch it again to get the explanation correct. The physics of time is portrayed so wonderfully in the film; the ships disappearing without moving too much almost as if they shifted to another time when they were in another space. A time 3000 years in the future?

If time isn't linear and you exist at all points equally then the idea of changing your future might be seen as moot but there was a time when Louise didn't know her future before she had her head rearranged. Equally she can see her past in the same way and she doesn't think to change that. Erm this isn't that kinda sci-fi is it? We really don't fully understand time and it's connection to space so if works because Villeneuve says so. As an engine for connecting us to Louise's character it's a very efficient engine.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: don s. on November 18, 2016, 09:31:35 PM
Did anyone else want to hear the rest of that lecture on Portuguese?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 19, 2016, 05:19:46 AM
Arrival
Denis Villeneuve (2016)

There is a fascinating, novel and potentially fantastic science-fiction movie lost in the meanders of Arrival. The movie is superficially about its sci-fi premise of establishing contact with the aliens that have arrived on Earth. The subplot about Amy Adams' daughter made me roll my eyes at first because it looked like a superfluous element jammed in for some emotional effect ; either that, or there was to be some obvious later payoff. There is, but to a larger extent than I imagine. The science fiction setting turns out to be a mere backdrop by the end of the movie, a necessarily convoluted setting for Villeneuve to introduce the ideas he wants to go into about time, relationships, choices and life.

The best scenes of the movie are those when Adams if figuring out how to communicate with the aliens and when they expose their fundamentally different way to "speak", construct sentences and perceive reality. The movie that could have been is brought low by ordinary sentiment and logical paradoxes created in its name. The idea that language can reformat our mindscape's pathways does not extend to the ability to see the future, and Amy Adams "remembering" a language her future self knows without ever having actually learned it in the timeline is a gaping plot hole.

Villeneuve also decides to make his main character revolting through the "choice" she eventually makes (I use the word liberally since the nature of free will is debatable in a universe where time is non-linear). Whatever good will may be garnered towards her around the enjoy your life message is shattered by the specific way in which she will enjoy said life.

Thankfully there are no other glaring problems with the movie. Its script is clever and the characters behave in the ways people probably would in similar circumstances, with the proper amounts of intelligence, human stupidity and bureaucratic frustration. The international situation is taken into account and is important but does not take over the movie, which is very much a personal story. The performances matter for that reason, and Adams does a tremendous job playing a character that has never been done before: mourning what is yet to come. In good Villeneuve fashion, the cinematography varies from apt to splendid, reinforcing the creativity of the film. 

7/10
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 19, 2016, 05:20:01 AM
Did anyone else want to hear the rest of that lecture on Portuguese?

Me!
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 19, 2016, 05:26:25 AM
I don't understand the rewatch talk. There is a point, a bit before they spell out what is actually going on, where you understand that her memories are in fact her future. In that moment, the entire scope of the movie becomes clear and I don't see what rewatching the movie would bring me. As long as you're able to remember the relevant scenes you can see what was really going on the whole time.

I reckon pretty much all discussion of this film will need to happen here instead of in the main review thread.

I'd count myself as extremely intellectually impressed by the film but not fully on board overall. While I'd say it deals with time issues far better than Interstellar, the way that is woven in feels a bit heavy handed, both at the moment, and in hindsight when you know why these "memories" were being interspersed.

But this is definitely a movie for the era, with its focus on linguistics and how the use and varying interpretations of language can have profound effects on how we think and act. One thing that struck me was how Louise discusses that if our language is introduced in the form of chess or mah jongg, some game or contest that has a winner and a loser and is thus zero-sum, that will change the use of language learned by the aliens, and thus how it is reflected back to us and might be interpreted differently. I think about how we talk about the election in almost purely horse-race terms, who won or lost. And granted, having all these individual districts where one person wins and one person loses spurs that. Imagine though if we had a nationwide proportional representation system electing a coalition government based on shares of the vote. Ultimately some views will end up advantaged and others not, but it isn't as immediate. Would this change how we approach politics, would this allow for less zero-sum thinking (which leads to obstructionism) and more non-zero-sum thinking (which the film directly cites), where we can try to find common links. Obviously, the countries that have these systems are far from free of problems, but they do seem to function better (see Patterns of Democracy by Arend Lijphart).

The time concepts feel a bit more abstract and is a bit where the film loses me. I see the benefit of the kind of long vision shaping our ability to relate, but it is taken to a purely supernatural kind of level (which is maybe a weird thing to critique in a film with aliens). Ultimately, this kind of acts as a very good linguistics lecture snuck through to the masses (well, to the degree that this film gets watched) by a slickly designed movie guise. And I couldn't be happier about that, I love interesting lectures.

Do you think the movie is about linguistics more than a lecture on how to live and experience life ?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on November 19, 2016, 06:29:43 AM
The "memories"....memory itself is emotionally potent.  It's an experience to have these memories presented in this form. If you aren't moved by that experience then that's fine but I relate this to Alain Resnais masterful repreentation of memory; it is that powerful. So to then have the assumption of memory challenged that these were future events completely alters the emphasis of these experiences. That they also have a new moral component shouldn't need explaining.

With a movie that presents ideas in a novel way it  wouldn't be a problem to view that experience in very many different ways precisely because Villeneuve's presentation is quite so experiential. For instance if you are a parent this story will affect differently from someone young and childless. Nothing to do with who got what and who's cleverer than who; frankly if someone came in here to work out their feelings I would find that a rewarding read. A lot more than aren't I clever why watch it again.

Nobody said they needed to watch it again to get it and this film deserves a better conversation.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Bondo on November 19, 2016, 08:34:28 AM
Do you think the movie is about linguistics more than a lecture on how to live and experience life ?

Yes, though it would be in keeping with who I am as a person to discount the emotional themes and focus on the intellectual ones. Maybe it is more that the linguistic points were novel to me more than "is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" which is essentially what her choice boils down to. Is your greatest joy worth your greatest sorrow? To which I've always answered yes.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on November 26, 2016, 09:20:58 AM
@1SO. That thought about a disease was an extrapolation. I agree it has nothing much to do with the film it isn't necessary. Actually it seems more likely than not that her exposure to the alien ship would affect her in some way. Maybe not even an infection but stray radiation that the aliens don't see as harmful. When films talk about space travel they rarely address the fact that exposure to solar radiation would be deadly and it's only the earths wierd magnetic fields that stops all life dying very quickly or the atmosphere blowing off into space. A theory about Mars has it that the planets iron core stopped spinning and the air and water were scorched off the planet. The Martian was a little loose with this problem. The aliens in Arrival made humans look quite delicate. All that mist and the way they swam through it suggested to me a gas planet like Jupiter which tend to be bigger with heavy gravity which equals big strong aliens.

Btw read the above as an example of how little Villeneuve revealed. He had no need to fill out the detail because he never made the film about these mysterious creatures which is skillful direction. He focuses on Louise and her understanding so he can make language most important as a theme rather than nerdy stuff like how spaceships hang in the air or how the aliens could manipulate gravity. What he shows is Louise interest not Renners physicist or the military guys.

One observation; humans are shown as quite intelligent even the military and even the Chinese. Their reactions threaten conflict but it's a logical progression. Whittakers colonel is the least bellicose senior officer I've seen in a movie that I can recall.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on November 26, 2016, 10:16:46 AM
I didn't get that her daughter's disease was a direct result of Louise's interaction with the spaceship or the aliens. In fact, for me at least it didn't matter. Kids die of rare diseases every day. It was her smile and peaceful acceptance of her path  (both good and bad) that led to her cherishing every moment her kid was on this earth. As this realization was unfolding, the film went from science fiction to spiritual.
The fog and murky atmosphere of the aliens represented the idea of uncertainty, of being completely in the present, neither rooted in the mistakes of the past nor fretting about the challenges of the future. It's awareness in the moment. One can certainly lean in the present when the burdens of the future are already revealed. In fact, I believe it's purposefully not revealed if she could change her decisions or the future. Again - fog, murk, uncertainty. It doesn't matter. Her realizations around the language only become clear when she is face to face with the aliens in their murky, foggy uncertain atmosphere.
It's a comparison between the hard linear demands of science versus the soft, uncertainty of the spiritual (and here spiritual doesn't have to mean divine) there can be spiritual implications in nature - no god needed - just feeling the interconnectedness of life can be spiritual. Being in the Tao, in the flow.
For me at least - that was the big payoff. There can be a natural connection between those two worlds: science and the spiritual and also that words do matter, they matter so much that they can change how you interact with the universe.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: 1SO on November 26, 2016, 11:23:19 AM
@1SO. That thought about a disease was an extrapolation. I agree it has nothing much to do with the film it isn't necessary.
All true, but you now present the possibility, much like fan theories that are largely untrue but possible. This could be a story all its own. You could make a very effective drama about Louise's life with her family knowing what she knows. Maybe hoping to use her abilities to prevent the inevitable. I think that could all make for a good movie too, a different type of story that springs from this one.

Villeneuve told the story he wanted to tell and i think he made some great choices as to what Not to focus on. He strikes a balance between the best of Spielberg and the best of Malick. Those are two other directors that could've tackled this script, but they would've taken it further into their comfort zones at the expense of this better version we now have.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on November 26, 2016, 11:24:45 AM
I like that interpretation St M
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: don s. on November 26, 2016, 01:04:54 PM
@1SO. That thought about a disease was an extrapolation. I agree it has nothing much to do with the film it isn't necessary.
All true, but you now present the possibility, much like fan theories that are largely untrue but possible. This could be a story all its own. You could make a very effective drama about Louise's life with her family knowing what she knows. Maybe hoping to use her abilities to prevent the inevitable.

I realize this is a side issue, but "use her abilities to prevent the inevitable" goes against what Amy Adams' character has learned about the nature of time. She wouldn't bother to try to prevent that which she knows is inevitable, because she now understands that linear time is an illusion.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 29, 2016, 01:25:10 PM
So am I the only one who thinks Adams' decision is unacceptable ?

(Assuming she indeed did have the power to change things, which I believe is the film's take.)
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on November 29, 2016, 03:16:49 PM
Nope and I believe the film is vague on whether she can change to future - there's nothing to indicate that she can. Plus I believe it's completely irrelevant to the point being made.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Totoro on December 02, 2016, 02:44:26 AM
I thought this was pretty lame.

I don't understand the connection between her gaining the power of seeing the future with the aliens. They gave it to her, then that's it? What else did she do with this power? Fascinating concept, zero done with it.

I just didn't care at all for these characters either, so that has a lot to do with it.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Totoro on December 02, 2016, 02:49:50 AM
Did anyone else want to hear the rest of that lecture on Portuguese?

That's one way to improve this slog.

I don't understand the rewatch talk. There is a point, a bit before they spell out what is actually going on, where you understand that her memories are in fact her future. In that moment, the entire scope of the movie becomes clear and I don't see what rewatching the movie would bring me. As long as you're able to remember the relevant scenes you can see what was really going on the whole time.


We don't agree on much but THIS THIS THIS. This is way more linear/straightforward than people are giving it credit for. And as soon as the no-sum zero line came, I put together the twist pretty quick.


Villeneuve told the story he wanted to tell and i think he made some great choices as to what Not to focus on. He strikes a balance between the best of Spielberg and the best of Malick. Those are two other directors that could've tackled this script, but they would've taken it further into their comfort zones at the expense of this better version we now have.

Spielberg would've made me care, Malick would've left me in wonder. I got neither.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 02, 2016, 04:58:54 AM

I don't understand the connection between her gaining the power of seeing the future with the aliens. They gave it to her, then that's it? What else did she do with this power? Fascinating concept, zero done with it.

Because knowing the language makes it possible for you to understand that time is not linear, she WROTE A BOOK so everyone could understand time the way she now does.

That's what she does with her power.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 02, 2016, 05:12:14 AM
I love that. There's a lot going on there at the end isn't there? Yet all laid out; nothing vague but ambiguous. What a gift to his audience.

On the point of the book; there's a good chance very few people could understand language in the way Louise does. The reprogramming might not take with many.

I heard a programme yesterday explaining space in terms of quantum mechanics. One consequence of this explanation is that time becomes disconnected from space. We cant see the grain of space because the weave is too fine and as a result we can't view time properly.

Even if the film showed no consequences; just to reconceptualise time and show us a glimpse of another image of time and space is a rounded achievement.

Thanks for reminding me of the book.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 02, 2016, 05:19:22 AM
I think I would have been more comfortable with Louise having a child she knew would die if that child hadn't died of a disease and hadn't had to go through chemo.  Hit by a bus, maybe.  But, thinking that the child suffered really got to me.  It made me feel Louise made a selfish decision.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 02, 2016, 05:21:04 AM
Quote
On the point of the book; there's a good chance very few people could understand language in the way Louise does. The reprogramming might not take with many.

That would depend on how good a writer she was. ;)
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 02, 2016, 05:29:53 AM
I think I would have been more comfortable with Louise having a child she knew would die if that child hadn't died of a disease and hadn't had to go through chemo.  Hit by a bus, maybe.  But, thinking that the child suffered really got to me.  It made me feel Louise made a selfish decision.

Thank you. I mean, I am much harsher on her, but at least we can agree that not everything about that is honky dory.

About the book: understanding time in a new way is one thing. Adams gets superpowers here. That is just not possible, not matter how nifty that language is.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Totoro on December 02, 2016, 05:30:05 AM

I don't understand the connection between her gaining the power of seeing the future with the aliens. They gave it to her, then that's it? What else did she do with this power? Fascinating concept, zero done with it.

Because knowing the language makes it possible for you to understand that time is not linear, she WROTE A BOOK so everyone could understand time the way she now does.

That's what she does with her power.

And the only insight we get into how this power fundamentally changes the course of humankind is whether or not she has her daughter?

Kind of ridiculous considering that the daughter doesn't even matter that much to the overall film - it's the future of humanity itself that it concentrates its conflict on far more than any personal matters of the protagonist.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 02, 2016, 05:32:42 AM
Quote
On the point of the book; there's a good chance very few people could understand language in the way Louise does. The reprogramming might not take with many.

That would depend on how good a writer she was. ;)

Hey! She'd already know how successful she would be wouldn't she? Bit like Groundhog Day; she could try a hundred different methods see which worked the best, then pick that one to use first time!  ;D

Ouch my head hurts now.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 02, 2016, 05:35:00 AM

I don't understand the connection between her gaining the power of seeing the future with the aliens. They gave it to her, then that's it? What else did she do with this power? Fascinating concept, zero done with it.

Because knowing the language makes it possible for you to understand that time is not linear, she WROTE A BOOK so everyone could understand time the way she now does.

That's what she does with her power.

And the only insight we get into how this power fundamentally changes the course of humankind is whether or not she has her daughter?

Kind of ridiculous considering that the daughter doesn't even matter that much to the overall film - it's the future of humanity itself that it concentrates its conflict on far more than any personal matters of the protagonist.
Now im beginning to wonder what film you watched.  ;D not Abba Arrival?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 02, 2016, 05:35:18 AM
And the only insight we get into how this power fundamentally changes the course of humankind is whether or not she has her daughter?

Kind of ridiculous considering that the daughter doesn't even matter that much to the overall film - it's the future of humanity itself that it concentrates its conflict on far more than any personal matters of the protagonist.

Thing is, and this is one of the things that bother me the most about the movie, I think Villeneuve is more interesting in talking about the daughter and enjoying life stuff than the sci-fi stuff. My belief is that the aliens are a secondary question that enables him to have Adams make that choice in the end.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 02, 2016, 05:37:13 AM
Quote
And the only insight we get into how this power fundamentally changes the course of humankind is whether or not she has her daughter?

That and stop a world war.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 02, 2016, 05:40:34 AM
Quote
Thing is, and this is one of the things that bother me the most about the movie, I think Villeneuve is more interesting in talking about the daughter and enjoying life stuff than the sci-fi stuff. My belief is that the aliens are a secondary question that enables him to have Adams make that choice in the end.

I think Villeneuve's point is:  With understanding comes understanding.  He uses the child to illustrate the non-linear time element, but he's more interested in global communication over global conflict as a theme.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Totoro on December 02, 2016, 05:42:13 AM
And the only insight we get into how this power fundamentally changes the course of humankind is whether or not she has her daughter?

Kind of ridiculous considering that the daughter doesn't even matter that much to the overall film - it's the future of humanity itself that it concentrates its conflict on far more than any personal matters of the protagonist.

Thing is, and this is one of the things that bother me the most about the movie, I think Villeneuve is more interesting in talking about the daughter and enjoying life stuff than the sci-fi stuff. My belief is that the aliens are a secondary question that enables him to have Adams make that choice in the end.

No, that doesn't make sense. Evidence: The Movie, which spends so little time with Louise outside her active duty in trying to communicate with the aliens. I cared so little for her personal life (it checked off the bare essentials for her relationship with the scientist dude) that the daughter subplot comes off as almost completely tacked on.

What was the overall driving idea of the movie? Theme? That open and empathic communication will lead us out of worldwide conflict, right? So what does that have to do with her daughter?

Or am I wrong? Is there another theme that connects the daughter with this theme of communication?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 02, 2016, 05:46:42 AM
I think Villeneuve's point is:  With understanding comes understanding.  He uses the child to illustrate the non-linear time element, but he's more interested in global communication over global conflict as a theme.

The daughter is not merely a device to illustrate the superimposition of time. Villeneuve shows us that past and future are one and the same and then uses that to make a statement about seizing the moment. The emotional core of the movie is Adams deciding that future tragedies should not impede you from squeezing as much out of life as you can. Happiness is worth the woe it will eventually cost.

That said happiness also means sacrificing an innocent person is another question but the more ghastly one.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 02, 2016, 05:54:26 AM
I'm imagining the Nolan version now. There would definitely be a whiteboard involved. A guy with a telescopic pointer as well. The whole movie might be him pointing at things on the board.  ;D
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 02, 2016, 06:01:48 AM
I think Villeneuve's point is:  With understanding comes understanding.  He uses the child to illustrate the non-linear time element, but he's more interested in global communication over global conflict as a theme.

The daughter is not merely a device to illustrate the superimposition of time. Villeneuve shows us that past and future are one and the same and then uses that to make a statement about seizing the moment. The emotional core of the movie is Adams deciding that future tragedies should not impede you from squeezing as much out of life as you can. Happiness is worth the woe it will eventually cost.

That said happiness also means sacrificing an innocent person is another question but the more ghastly one.

If that's your take-away,  then I see your point.  That wasn't what the film was saying to me. 
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 02, 2016, 06:31:36 AM
I think Villeneuve's point is:  With understanding comes understanding.  He uses the child to illustrate the non-linear time element, but he's more interested in global communication over global conflict as a theme.

The daughter is not merely a device to illustrate the superimposition of time. Villeneuve shows us that past and future are one and the same and then uses that to make a statement about seizing the moment. The emotional core of the movie is Adams deciding that future tragedies should not impede you from squeezing as much out of life as you can. Happiness is worth the woe it will eventually cost.

That said happiness also means sacrificing an innocent person is another question but the more ghastly one.
Terrible ending.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 02, 2016, 06:32:10 AM
Without her daughter, Louise never has the insights that stop the potential conflict and allow for the entire human race to take a major evolutionary step forward.
Keeping in mind that she provided the opportunity for her daughter to shine bright while she was on this earth, it's up to us to decide if Louise's choice was ethical and moral.
Personally I believe in a soul and in reincarnation, that we keep coming back to evolve. It's only our challenges and suffering that allow us growth. There is also this idea of soul contracts - that certain souls sign on for a more challenging path in order for those around them to make more substantial evolutionary leaps forward.
Does Villeneuve make these ideas apparent?
No, but I like to believe they were on his mind as he made this film and then left it open to some wonderful discussion like this. The viewer is left to insert their own beliefs into their interpretation.
Again, this film, for me at least, was less science fiction and more spiritual.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 02, 2016, 06:35:22 AM
Excusing Adams because her daughter may reincarnate is a cop out. The movie doesn't even begin to hint at such possibilities. Interpreting it morally or ethically is one thing, but saying it is okay she suffered  because she gets an extra life is dodging the question.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 02, 2016, 06:47:08 AM
Personally I believe in a soul and in reincarnation, that we keep coming back to evolve. It's only our challenges and suffering that allow us growth. There is also this idea of soul contracts - that certain souls sign on for a more challenging path in order for those around them to make more substantial evolutionary leaps forward.
Does Villeneuve make these ideas apparent?
No, but I like to believe they were on his mind as he made this film and then left it open to some wonderful discussion like this. The viewer is left to insert their own beliefs into their interpretation.
Again, this film, for me at least, was less science fiction and more spiritual.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 02, 2016, 06:48:59 AM
In the film   That's Martins own idea a nice one and a nice way to go. Can't ascribe that to the film though.

More straws!!
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 02, 2016, 06:50:05 AM
funny how that is exactly what I said.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 02, 2016, 06:52:11 AM
Yes you were less than clear about where the thought came from. It is not a cop out in the film.

What you described as the ending doesn't tally with your comment that the film has a poor ending.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 02, 2016, 06:57:53 AM
Bad things happen in the world, people suffer and die.
Expecting it to not happen or to not find the grains of hope and positivity somewhere in the experience is not how I would want to go through life.
Whether or not he mentioned it (reincarnation) is immaterial because we all color our interpretations of whatever we experience with the filters of our own beliefs.
My ideas were simply me sharing how I interpreted Louise's choice and I found the balance in a very difficult decision.
It worked for me. ;)
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 02, 2016, 07:03:22 AM
I'd say that knowing the inevitable comclusion would have the positive benefit of cherishing every moment precisely for knowing it's end. It opens up he inevitable thought of our own deaths and those of the people we love and that because death is a very hard thing to stare in the eye we then miss a similar cogniscance to enjoy what we have when we have it. We don't have Louise's advantage in a way. We don't have those "memories"/ images of the future to keep us powered up to cherish our families.

Again I'm enthused that the film can springboard towards these thoughts. Thankfully it never slammed the door on a more philosophical process. Nice afterimages.

I just didn't care at all for these characters either, so that has a lot to do with it.
This is perplexing merely for the film being so much about Adams' Louise that to term it "these characters" misses the point in itself. I feel that by this point Adams primacy as an actor has gone beyond doubt. You could contend with my feeling that she is the best actor working anywhere, confirmed by this film and what she is asked to do; little else I feel.

Renner and Whitaker aren't engaging ? fine. They are in the film but it isn't their film. It's Adams'. I know she interpreted a lot of what Villeneuve was describing to her into facial reaction. That's why it's especially wonderful that she was acting to two tennis balls whilst the director explains what he wanted to convey but Adams is doing the hard work here.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Bondo on December 02, 2016, 08:10:14 AM
I have to admit a certain confusion at the notion that Louise may be morally negligent for having the daughter since she knew the daughter would suffer at the end of her life. It seems the same calculation for Louise applies to the daughter. Maybe it matters her motivation, like if she doesn't have a daughter to avoid her own pain it is selfish but if she does it to avoid her daughter's pain, it is noble. But then if you say she is wrong to not avoid her daughter's pain just for her own joy, similarly it would be wrong to deny her daughter's joy in order to avoid her own pain. This creation of a strong moral bias against any experience of pain/suffering would seem to lead to an advocation of suicide...that it might get better is irrelevant because the good doesn't justify the bad.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 02, 2016, 08:36:08 AM
I think it is expressed as a personal decision because the father's reaction is to leave Louise and start to look at the daughter differently once he finds out the truth. The truth being that Louise knew all along.

The point you made about suicide is a personal choice rather a moral absolute. Again the assumption that we all die is never expressed in any decision we make is it? Once Louise; like the guy in Slaughterhouse 5, knows the exact moment of death; and it changes her morality. In a sense it doesn't matter to the "time literate" -call it that- whether she or anyone dies at 16 or 80. The question of pain is interssting but it's also modified by prescience. Pain comes to us all. Human condition timey wimey.  ;D
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 02, 2016, 09:06:02 AM
I have to admit a certain confusion at the notion that Louise may be morally negligent for having the daughter since she knew the daughter would suffer at the end of her life. It seems the same calculation for Louise applies to the daughter. Maybe it matters her motivation, like if she doesn't have a daughter to avoid her own pain it is selfish but if she does it to avoid her daughter's pain, it is noble. But then if you say she is wrong to not avoid her daughter's pain just for her own joy, similarly it would be wrong to deny her daughter's joy in order to avoid her own pain. This creation of a strong moral bias against any experience of pain/suffering would seem to lead to an advocation of suicide...that it might get better is irrelevant because the good doesn't justify the bad.

You cannot consider both in the same way. Adams already exists. Her daughter does not. Avoiding pain or seeking happiness take different meanings in each case.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: MattDrufke on December 04, 2016, 10:23:00 AM
I have to admit a certain confusion at the notion that Louise may be morally negligent for having the daughter since she knew the daughter would suffer at the end of her life. It seems the same calculation for Louise applies to the daughter. Maybe it matters her motivation, like if she doesn't have a daughter to avoid her own pain it is selfish but if she does it to avoid her daughter's pain, it is noble. But then if you say she is wrong to not avoid her daughter's pain just for her own joy, similarly it would be wrong to deny her daughter's joy in order to avoid her own pain. This creation of a strong moral bias against any experience of pain/suffering would seem to lead to an advocation of suicide...that it might get better is irrelevant because the good doesn't justify the bad.

You cannot consider both in the same way. Adams already exists. Her daughter does not. Avoiding pain or seeking happiness take different meanings in each case.

I get what you're saying here, but I'm not so sure I agree with you. Because it's not like if this child isn't born, it's spirit or soul or aura just moves on to the next thing being born and we'll take our chances with what will happen. Yes, the choice made is one of a life which will include such an unfair amount of pain and suffering at such an early age (having recently dealt with cancer in my family, those scenes hit me particularly hard). But the other choice is no life at all. Pure non-existence.

I guess here's how I look at it. If the instant before you were born, you were given a choice: a rough short life or nothing, would any of us choose nothing? Because even a short life has love and joy and happiness and Portillo's.

Saw this movie yesterday with my girlfriend and 12-year old son, who didn't want to go but ended up really liking it. I was all in, as well. I really enjoy what this movie is doing and it will definitely land in my top 20.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 04, 2016, 11:19:31 AM
If you're saying that even woeful lives are worth being born, then Adams decision does not only apply to herself but to everyone. If existence is better than non-existence, we have an almost moral duty to birth new people, even to the detriment of everyone's general happiness, because the good parts will still make up for it in that rationale.

My point was that nonexistence and existence are incomparable because they are not two manners of being. Nonexistence is not better, it just isn't. Or maybe it is better in some cases but then one is probably the sole judge of one's specific case.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 04, 2016, 04:21:12 PM
Was is not selfish of Louise to have the child?  I come down on the side of selfish, but I know that's not in keeping with the theme of the movie.  I  just can't make myself see the other side of this.

Also Portillo's is a good reason to be alive.  ;D
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Bondo on December 04, 2016, 04:30:25 PM
Well, since Louise knew when her child would become sick, wouldn't the most moral thing be to have the child, but then murder her painlessly right when the negative effects of the illness were about to kick in. Then you get all the joyful parts of life without the major suffering that you say makes it selfish?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 04, 2016, 04:36:01 PM
No, the moral thing to do would be to not have the child. 
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Junior on December 04, 2016, 05:17:13 PM
The question is at what point of suffering does this calculation come in? Everybody dies, right? So shouldn't nobody be born if the end result will be death?

I think the important part that has been missed in this convo is the idea that, because Adams has this new way of thinking, when her daughter does eventually die Adams will still have the experience of her being alive as if it were happening currently to think of. The shift in her way of thinking makes the positive years a much richer source of "memories" than our human way of experiencing memories does, and the idea that she might be able to pass that on through her own writing means that a paradigm shift is possible, if unlikely.

I'm not sure if any of that makes any sense.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 04, 2016, 05:21:28 PM
Louise does see a different reality than those who don't know the language, so that does make sense in that regard.

Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: 1SO on December 04, 2016, 06:35:32 PM
Was is not selfish of Louise to have the child?  I come down on the side of selfish, but I know that's not in keeping with the theme of the movie.  I  just can't make myself see the other side of this.
I may agree with you but I think the character of Louise would still have the child, selfish as it may be,

and she would not be able to murder her. Perhaps Ian could do that which is why he leaves her.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on December 04, 2016, 07:03:30 PM
Not all who suffer are lost.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 04, 2016, 07:20:32 PM
Every life is a life worth living.
We all suffer greatly at some point.
I think maybe it's a little selfish of us to decide for this child that her life wasn't worth living instead of her.
 
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Junior on December 04, 2016, 07:27:07 PM
Which brings us to the idea brought up on The Next Picture Show that this might be an argument for a pro-life stance. I think that's a little too easy of an interpretation, in part because the film does seem to place the choice in Adams' hands and her situation is, as I pointed out before, very different from most other people's. But the reading isn't that far off, and I'm interested in seeing what you all have to say about it.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on December 04, 2016, 07:30:11 PM
Does the film ever even bring up the option of abortion? I can't remember.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Junior on December 04, 2016, 07:31:26 PM
No, but you could see her saying no to his proposition as an abortion of sorts, if she had said it.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Bondo on December 04, 2016, 07:39:06 PM
I mean, depending on one's view of when life begins, what is the difference in this circumstance between abortion and just avoiding having sex at the time she knows she would conceive of this child. Either way she is making a choice to prevent a life from being, for at least a plausible reason.

If we are going to take on the abortion analogy, and we consider her selfish for having the child who she know will suffer, is it similarly selfish to not get an abortion if you have limited means and thus the child will be born to material suffering? Is it selfish to have a child you know will have physical or mental defects that will make its life harder? We almost never phrase having a child as selfish, and society is vastly more likely to consider having an abortion as selfish. It is interesting that in this case the former does get some play.

Of course, my previously stated maximum morality fits in with my general comfort with euthanasia vis a vis abortion (which I am politically supportive of but personally conflicted about).
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 04, 2016, 07:45:31 PM
It never been having a child v not having her.  It's that Louise knew how she would die, with suffering and pain. 

The film is possibly pro-life but I didn't think of that until I heard it voiced on NPS.  I thought that discussion was satisfying until they pulled that out at the end and didn't discuss it further.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: oldkid on December 04, 2016, 08:37:41 PM
I don't know that every life is worth living.  But Louise's daughter's life seems worth living.  Except for it's shortness and the very end (we don't know how long the suffering endured), her daughter seemed to have a happy, productive life.  Let's say her suffering lasted a year, but it wouldn't be continuous suffering throughout all that time.  Isn't (say) 13 years of a good, happy life worth one year of medium to deep suffering? 

I think to say that Louise, who could see the whole life, allowed her daughter to have those 13 years isn't really an act of selfishness.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 04, 2016, 09:13:35 PM
We know the daughter had chemo.  That's suffering.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: oldkid on December 04, 2016, 09:25:08 PM
And why did she have chemo?  If L already knew that she was going to die, why bother with chemo?  That's the decision I would question, that might have been strictly selfish.

Chemo isn't always suffering.  I have a friend who goes through regular chemo treatments and she labels it as "uncomfortable, but endurable."  She lives a very active, happy life.  Of course, I've met others who suffered through chemo.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 04, 2016, 10:09:08 PM
I suggest that she (Louise) experiences time all at once, instead of in the usual linear fashion.
I then submit that her daughter, for her, was already alive in her experiences, so how could she deny her a chance to exist.

The idea of choosing her future is rather vague and never quite established.

But at any rate, I still believe that all lives are worth exploring and her daughter was no exception.
You don't deny someone a chance to exist just because they might suffer and die young.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 04, 2016, 10:34:30 PM
You don't deny someone a chance to exist just because they might will suffer and die young.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 05, 2016, 12:08:02 AM
The alien tells Louise that they are here now so that they can seek help for an event that won't happen for 3000 years. If Louise gains the same view of time; perhaps as a map where all the points exist together in time rather than 2D space, then an event in the next 20 years; changing that event, will seem rather insignificant, a minute (not 60seconds but tiny) detail on a vast map. Louise's perspective becomes alien to a normal human perspective. Whatever normal human perspective is eh? :D

Also Louise will have an equally clear view of her own death and those of anyone who dies before her that she knows. I think that would drastically alter anyone's basic morality on the question of death. I don't mean lessen that morality but make some things less important and other things more important, like living more fully in the moment.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 05, 2016, 12:28:33 AM
You don't deny someone a chance to exist just because they might will suffer and die young.

I still stand by my statement.

Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 05, 2016, 09:55:15 AM
I am glad this conversation is going on. I just wish I had been online yesterday to participate. It is my main problem with the film's message.

If we are going to take on the abortion analogy, and we consider her selfish for having the child who she know will suffer, is it similarly selfish to not get an abortion if you have limited means and thus the child will be born to material suffering? Is it selfish to have a child you know will have physical or mental defects that will make its life harder? We almost never phrase having a child as selfish, and society is vastly more likely to consider having an abortion as selfish. It is interesting that in this case the former does get some play.

Having a child, whatever the circumstances, is the most selfish act you can take because it is impossible to do something for someone who does not exist. You cannot be thinking about the child's well being since the sole reason that well being is even a question is that you have decided to birth it.

Was is not selfish of Louise to have the child?  I come down on the side of selfish, but I know that's not in keeping with the theme of the movie.  I  just can't make myself see the other side of this.

That is the side of the argument I come out on. She is being selfish on a scale unrelated to what I wrote above.

Every life is a life worth living.
We all suffer greatly at some point.
I think maybe it's a little selfish of us to decide for this child that her life wasn't worth living instead of her.

How can an unborn child decided whether or not it wants to live ?

The question is at what point of suffering does this calculation come in? Everybody dies, right? So shouldn't nobody be born if the end result will be death?

I think the important part that has been missed in this convo is the idea that, because Adams has this new way of thinking, when her daughter does eventually die Adams will still have the experience of her being alive as if it were happening currently to think of. The shift in her way of thinking makes the positive years a much richer source of "memories" than our human way of experiencing memories does, and the idea that she might be able to pass that on through her own writing means that a paradigm shift is possible, if unlikely.

I'm not sure if any of that makes any sense.

I get your point, and the way Adams' experiences time is an important part of the movie, but it does not change the discussion. In fact, it only makes her decision more selfish. She can experience all the joy brought about by her daughter's life before she is born, during her life and after her death. She will potentially always be reliving and preliving those moments in ways that normal memory does not allow. At the same time, not only does she know in advance her daughter is going to die, she has also already mourned her. She is still going to suffer at the moment of death, we saw that, but I find it hard to believe present suffering is not altered by her heightened time-consciousness.

I suggest that she (Louise) experiences time all at once, instead of in the usual linear fashion.
I then submit that her daughter, for her, was already alive in her experiences, so how could she deny her a chance to exist.

The idea of choosing her future is rather vague and never quite established.

This to me is the best argument against my position but to me it comes down to the movie being unclear about how this works. Do physics even allow for Adams to not have the child ? I think the movie says they do by suggesting that she made a choice.

St. Martin poses a second question, perhaps a better one, of a psychological need to live in actuality the experiences she has already pre-lived. I don't know how to address that question without knowing for certain how her powers work.

But at any rate, I still believe that all lives are worth exploring and her daughter was no exception.
You don't deny someone a chance to exist just because they might suffer and die young.

You do though. Every second you spend not being pregnant or getting someone pregnant you are denying potential lives from being born. Every sperm that dies of old age or or the fabric of bed sheets is someone being denied birth ; every egg that does unfertilised too. Even when you do fertilise an egg, you are only creating one of the billions of possible people you could have created by fertilising it a second later, or having a different spermatozoon break the barrier first, and are thereby denying the existence of that billion potential people in favour of a specific one.

Doing the same thing for ethical reasons is just substituting chance by your concern for the child's well-being.

Which brings us to the idea brought up on The Next Picture Show that this might be an argument for a pro-life stance. I think that's a little too easy of an interpretation, in part because the film does seem to place the choice in Adams' hands and her situation is, as I pointed out before, very different from most other people's. But the reading isn't that far off, and I'm interested in seeing what you all have to say about it.

I have not heard the episode yet but I can sort of see the point. Ultimately though, I do not think the analogy works well enough to talk about abortion. I do think we need more abortion movies.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: pixote on December 05, 2016, 10:08:41 AM
Louise' connection to her future child seems to me essential to her saving the day in the present -- based on the flashforward structure -- so she didn't really have a choice. Lose the child, lose the world. And of course Hannah could have had a say in the matter herself, since time isn't linear for Louise.

How come learning the language doesn't eventually allow Ian to see the future? Why does he need Louise to tell him about the choice she made (thus driving him away)? Unbelievably selfish and weak of him, btw. Hard to reconcile with the character from the present.

pixote
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 05, 2016, 10:10:01 AM
She is the one who betrayed him.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Bondo on December 05, 2016, 10:16:04 AM
@DH:

I feel like the pro-choice activists always demand more treatments of abortion where it is considered unremarkable with no lasting harms. That's all well and good, but it is narratively inert. That is why even pro-choice films like Juno, Breaking Dawn Part 1, or Obvious Child, have to show at least some level of grappling with the decision. Girls S1E2 shows that the best way to tackle it in the "preferred" way is through humor because then you don't need dramatic stakes.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 05, 2016, 10:23:40 AM
Mad Men has a good treatment of it. It is not shrugged off like a minor nuisance ; rather, it is a necessary inconvenience that has its share of an emotional price.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: oldkid on December 05, 2016, 08:54:47 PM
Continuing from the Responding... thread:

Arrival

You have a weird conceptualisation of Truth.


Truth is what exists or happens whether it is recognized or not.  Is that so weird?

Perhaps you think that what I understood that Arrival was speaking about between communication and truth is weird.  But, for instance, in the US conceptualization is spelled with a 'z'.  Both your spelling and mine are correct, but my spell check tells me that you are wrong, when, in truth, my spell check's experience is limited.

I meant that the way you oppose truth to communication paints a weird image of it.

That is one of the themes of the film.  Ian represents science, or pure truth.  Louise represents linguistics, or communication.  In their first meeting Ian says (paraphrase), "You wrote that language is the cornerstone of civilization.  But it's not.  Science is."  The rest of the film shows that while science/truth is important, communication is actually more important in that context.

My problem is mostly one of semantics. I don't think science or truth are the words I would choose in your dichotomy. Another problem is that I do not agree with the dichotomy offered by the movie insofar as it is indeed presenting it to us. There may indeed - there probably is - a truth/communication paradigm that opposes the two notions, but I wonder how fundamental it is to social dynamics. Thirdly, I suspect you may be relying on a throw away line in the movie to identify its main subject. Unless this is just you choosing to focus on what you care.

That to me raises the question: What was the point of Jeremy Renner at all in here - as a character and as a physicist. His scientific credentials are never put to use because we never get to the point where humans exchange with the septopods about physics. He is necessary for the family arc, to give Adams someone to talk to and to for those breakthroughs he is responsible for at the end, but all that could have been achieved by an other linguist or some other member of Adams' team.

I suppose at this point the spoiler thread would be a better place to continue.

Let me use a couple examples.

The theory of evolution is true.  It has been proven in frequent observation, both in the fossil record and in the animal kingdom.  However, in the United States and elsewhere, there is a large segment of the population that doesn't recognize it as true.  This is because they have had it communicated to them that their preferred understanding of the world-- created by God-- is opposed to the theory of evolution.  This is due to a continual context of competition and opposition between the two thought constructs that are unnecessary.  So the truth is a truth, but the shell around the truth-- the communication about the truth-- lets people disbelieve the truth. 

In the film, the truth is the aliens' purpose of being on the earth.  The science guy is trying to find out all he can by his means and the language girl is trying to find out all she can.  His side of it isn't explored much, he is seen as being awed by her actions, and it would have been nice to see him be more science-y.  Make some cool discoveries.  But the competition between them is set up at the beginning.  To discover this question, the most important question, it is the art of linguistics that solves the problem, not physics or biology or chemistry.  Ian sees these core sciences in opposition to linguistics.  But the new civilization, the new agreement between civilizations, the new connection between aliens and humans were discovered by someone who was committed to communication, the nebulous activity between personalities, not physical stuff.

Now, this isn't the main theme of the film.  It is a theme.  I think the film carries three themes:

-The acceptance of life although there is suffering
-The significance of communication over science
-How we see reality is determined by our language, shaping our brains to experience a reality we've never seen before.

We've had pretty good arguments on the first two themes.  Perhaps we should argue about the third.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 06, 2016, 04:56:24 AM
The last one seems self evident to me. I am not sure what there would be to argue about.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: oldkid on December 06, 2016, 12:05:46 PM
This is Filmspotting! Arguments abound!  Don't limit our vision of being able to argue every minute point!
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 06, 2016, 02:32:30 PM
I could hardly be construed as someone who has trouble disagreeing with people I think. You're wrong.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Bondo on December 06, 2016, 07:19:29 PM
An argument is more than just the automatic naysaying of the other person.  ;D
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: oldkid on December 06, 2016, 11:45:32 PM
An argument is more than just the automatic naysaying of the other person.  ;D

No it's not!
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 07, 2016, 02:34:53 AM
An argument is more than just the automatic naysaying of the other person.  ;D

No it's not!

Yes it is !
Title: Questions about ARRIVAL (Beware: SPOILERS!)
Post by: stjepanidze on December 07, 2016, 01:26:54 PM
Hello,

I treated myself to a second viewing of Arrival last night at my local cineplex. I enjoyed it even more than the first time. I noticed some stylistic choices from Villeneuve this time. For example, how many rectangles and perpendicular angles there were throughout the first half (Louise's silhouette in the frame of very large windows, the Brutalist box that was the university building, lots of TV or computer screens, corridors, the bird cage, even the Alien pod's long shaft into the main room with the enormous window), and usually these rectangular shapes were framing irregular shapes (organic or symbolic).

I also knew what to expect regarding the twist at the end, and I picked up on the hints that made me go, "Riiiight..."

But one thing that I still do not really understand is the following:

If Louise learned---through the Heptapod's language---how to perceive time differently (mainly: to sense the future), was that why she seemed always to have a hint of sadness in her? She could be sad because of what (we think) happened in the past or for what (we later know) will happen in the future. It's great acting either way. The second viewing filters one's appreciation through the lens of the second option. She even says something along the lines of "Despite knowing what was going to happen [to her daughter], she was going to enjoy every moment she had with her..." But, is sensing the future and living with such a type of perpetual sadness a "gift" for humanity? Sure, it may be used to avoid conflicts within our species, but life's tragedies are oftentimes inevitable, so knowing that well in advance... I don't know how much of a gift that is supposed to be (unless one can act to prevent it, which wasn't the case for her character).

The other thing that wasn't clear to me is when she calls Gen. Shang to convince him that she can see into the future by telling him what his ailing wife would say to him before dying. Why wouldn't she remember that she made that call? If she actually called him (and we see her doing that in the "present"), surely she would remember dialing that number and being threatened at gunpoint locked in that small room, wouldn't she? Whatever the consequences of her call to Shang ended up being and which she would learn about in the future, the actual call was something that she herself was well aware of doing.

Overall I absolutely loved the film, but perhaps there are some things that I missed?

What do other members of the Forum think?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Corndog on December 08, 2016, 12:17:10 PM
I've read through the thread, and found some great discussion. Everyone raised good points. But to me, I don't understand how no child could be better than child that dies. And specifically how never existing is better for Hannah than existing with suffering.

Also, I was blown away by this film. It will make my year end Top 10 for sure.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 08, 2016, 12:33:46 PM
Whichever side of the discussion you fall, what comes out of it is that Villeneuve poses gorgeously ambiguous questions, i.e. the situation is clear, but how you interpret it is offered to the viewer without very much prejudice from the writer and director. 2001 and The Trial in different media, do the same thing; asking fascinating questions that don't require an answer to fulfill the story. The more contentious movie that is similarly ambiguous is Under The Skin, but the clear answers of the origins of the Johansson character don't seem so clear when it is discussed.

The question about the General's conversation with Louise. It might be more a question of how information is revealed in the film in the same linear way we experience time, we have to be fed information a bit at a time because ..... time works that way for us. Another answer is Lousie still accesses these future events as memories and plays them through as actual events so it took her entire conversation with the General to be played in her head until she gets to the bit where he tells her what she needs to know in the past. The conversation itself happens in normal time so it takes a while for her to get to the important bit....or building film tension cos its a film! ;D
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Sandy on December 09, 2016, 01:12:28 AM
thoughts about Louise's decision...

Each time something horrible happens to one of my children, I wonder if I would have had the courage to have/or adopt him or her, knowing the pain they'd go through. And the pain I go through. Parenthood is not about being selfish. It's being in the trenches, working through fear, guilt, sorrow, regret and trying to create good things in spite of the challenges. It's 9 months of paying homage to the porcelain god and increasingly losing sight of one's own body, and then, countless sleepless nights, mundane tasks of laundry, food prep, homework help, carpools, rebellion... A child is not a toy, or accessory. Some may go into parenthood believing this fallacy, but it's soon debunked. Louise has been given many views into her child's life, perhaps the whole of it, and makes the impossibly difficult decision to go forward with conceiving her (I noticed it took a few glasses of wine, to help her to do so). This is courage, not selfishness, for Hannah's future pain will be felt most acutely by Louise, all over again and however many times her non-linear mind works now (And what about being with Ian in the first place? She's knows he will leave her, yet she is willing to live the experiences regardless). It's linear to think the child doesn't exist. Hannah has already lived her full life, even if it's in the future, and Louise has been there with her. Hannah is as real as Louise and Ian (in this story).

Of course I would still have my kids knowing the pain and sorrow they have and will go through. It's their journey (I'm walking alongside, just like Louise is/will). I wouldn't take it away from them if I could. I suspect if anyone asked Hannah, she'd say she'd want her own journey too, regardless of the duration.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: oldkid on December 09, 2016, 12:26:20 PM
It's linear to think the child doesn't exist.

Exactly.  If all time is time, then Hannah already exists, has already suffered.  Louise is choosing to live it, in full, with her.

The cause and effect is ruined by the non-linear time.  I wonder at the scene with the general, because what caused what?  I think it is too difficult to determine and is often a problem in time-travel films.  I believe there is a cause-and-effect in a non-linear time understanding, but that it is so complicated to be almost impossible to determine.

Even so, Louise's decision isn't exactly causing Hannah to exist.  Or maybe it is.  But if it is, then the decision was already done by the time we see her "make" the decision.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 09, 2016, 01:02:42 PM
I've read through the thread, and found some great discussion. Everyone raised good points. But to me, I don't understand how no child could be better than child that dies. And specifically how never existing is better for Hannah than existing with suffering.

Also, I was blown away by this film. It will make my year end Top 10 for sure.

As I said, to think in terms of better or worse to compare existence and nonexistence is to start out with a fallacious comparison. Existence can be good or bad because it is. The nature of nonexistence is that it is indescribable and has no characteristics except for not being. The point is not that it is better for the kid to exist or not. To someone who does not exist as yet, to come to exist in the future is not an upgrade. It is not a good thing because they would never have experienced the lack of it if it did not come to pass. It can be a bad thing if they (or possibly, an outside party) deem their existence not worth it. To a person who already exists, it could not be worse - or better -  to not have existed. What you have to compare are the available possibilities for existence and which are deemed acceptable.

Ultimately, the decision has to come back to Adams reasons for making the decision she makes and how we look at reproduction. Adams has her for motives that are even more selfish than usual: she wants to get to have those moments of splendour, her daughter's suffering be damned - and, incidentally, hers too.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 09, 2016, 01:06:35 PM
The cause and effect is ruined by the non-linear time.  I wonder at the scene with the general, because what caused what?  I think it is too difficult to determine and is often a problem in time-travel films.  I believe there is a cause-and-effect in a non-linear time understanding, but that it is so complicated to be almost impossible to determine.

I believe this is an instance of the movie not understanding the rules of physics it wants to give itself or not committing to them. In a non-linear time universe there would have to be a moment of inception for the things that happen because they must happen. The other, more glaring, example is how Adams learns the language. She remembers already knowing it and later she knows it because she future-remembered it in her past. But she never actually learns it so there is no reason for her future knowledge. The general situation is similar. Villeneuve is having his cake and past-eating it too.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Corndog on December 09, 2016, 01:20:45 PM
You've brought up a few times about her learning the language from knowing it in the future. I don't remember that about it at all. It's a process to learn it, and we get a nice little montage essentially that shows us all of the hard work and determination of one of the world's renown linguistics minds is doing in order to learn it, having multiple sessions with Abbott and Costello. She is slowly having more and more "flashbacks" over this time because she is slowly learning the language, which gives her the "flashback" power. The bit with General Shang, yes, she is remembering what to say based on her having said it in the future, which falls under your argument of flawed logic, but I don't recall that being the case with the language at all.

What does everyone else remember?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Sandy on December 09, 2016, 01:24:45 PM
...Adams has her for motives that are even more selfish than usual: she wants to get to have those moments of splendour, her daughter's suffering be damned - and, incidentally, hers too.

I give up. My language skills are insufficient. :(
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 09, 2016, 02:03:38 PM
Yes, having children is a selfish act. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it though.  ;D
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 09, 2016, 02:28:13 PM
...Adams has her for motives that are even more selfish than usual: she wants to get to have those moments of splendour, her daughter's suffering be damned - and, incidentally, hers too.

I give up. My language skills are insufficient. :(

Your argument relies on a reading of the movie whereby the kid has already suffered and Adams could not do anything to change that future. She can only change the future she will experience in actuality, and deciding not to have her would be a sort of abandonment. It comes down to multiple timelines, or at least that is what I understood you said. My opinion is based on different physical (physic ?) assumptions and can therefore not be used to contradict yours. I still disagree with you though.  ;D

Yes, having children is a selfish act. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it though.  ;D

The same reasoning works for murder.

You've brought up a few times about her learning the language from knowing it in the future. I don't remember that about it at all. It's a process to learn it, and we get a nice little montage essentially that shows us all of the hard work and determination of one of the world's renown linguistics minds is doing in order to learn it, having multiple sessions with Abbott and Costello. She is slowly having more and more "flashbacks" over this time because she is slowly learning the language, which gives her the "flashback" power. The bit with General Shang, yes, she is remembering what to say based on her having said it in the future, which falls under your argument of flawed logic, but I don't recall that being the case with the language at all.

What does everyone else remember?

The montage is of her learning the basics of the language. At the end of it she is able to make rudimentary phrases and spends days ruminating on interpretations of the answers. A day later she goes from English 101 to making wordplay with the subjunctive. That jump is only due to her future-remembering the book she will write, not to the actual study of the language.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Corndog on December 09, 2016, 03:19:28 PM
A day later...

The film takes place over several months.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: don s. on December 09, 2016, 09:34:47 PM
The cause and effect is ruined by the non-linear time.  I wonder at the scene with the general, because what caused what?  I think it is too difficult to determine and is often a problem in time-travel films.  I believe there is a cause-and-effect in a non-linear time understanding, but that it is so complicated to be almost impossible to determine.

Even so, Louise's decision isn't exactly causing Hannah to exist.  Or maybe it is.  But if it is, then the decision was already done by the time we see her "make" the decision.

Linear time is an illusion. Somehow, humans evolved to perceive time this way, which turned out to be a boon, since it allowed our primitive brains to understand cycles, which allowed us to invent agriculture and animal husbandry, which in turn allowed us to invent civilization. But it screws up our ability to understand this movie.

I keep seeing references to Louise's "choice." That's another illusion. Her daughter happened/happens/will happen. There's no changing it. Louise experiences it, and as a result of decoding the heptapods' language, she's versed in nonlinear time, and she understands that her experience is immutable.

The heptapods evolved differently. They experience time not linearly, but as something akin to a continuum. They can move back in forth in their own individual times, like we move through space. But they (and we) can't alter their time any more than we can warp the fabric of space. It's here. It's there. It was, is, and will be.

Does that help?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: oldkid on December 09, 2016, 10:37:28 PM
I agree with slowpogo, you said it quite well. DH, I don't think less of you, or feel you're not "getting it". Some things bother people while they don't others, and vice versa for that matter.

I could just as easily say that Arrival's components of greatness will be labeled as discombobulated elements and that it's fictional depths will be criticized.

I'm part of the minority who didn't really care for Arrival, and I haven't said anything about it on the forum yet. I'm going to cloak it all in spoiler tags just in case.


I loved parts of Arrival, I really did. It it beautiful and touching and well-directed. The time travel stuff is so...real. It makes you think about what you would do in Louise's situation and that's very effective.

But the part I can't get over (weeks later, I'm still super bothered by it) is the ease with which Louise picked up the alien language that has nothing to do with human language. All they had to do to make me happy was show a little more of the PROCESS of Louise figuring out the language. OK, so you showed the heptapods your name written in the English alphabet and hit your chest, so now they know what that means? Show time progressing for a few months/years, instead of a few days/weeks. I've expressed this opinion to many people, and they all tell me to just "suspend disbelief" and "accept the world of the movie". But the world of the movie is present-day America. So, nah. It just stuck out like a sore thumb.

The fiance is very bothered by the political implications of the movie. An unknown alien race shows up, and the military experts of the world who are used to dealing with nuclear powers would intentionally cut off contact with every other nation on earth because they were nervous? It all happened so quickly and suddenly the whole world is blacked out. Until Louise whispers the dying words of Japan's leader's wife? Which we don't even hear? I just have so many problems with the internal logic of the core events of the movie, it distracts me from the good parts.

Also, my dad left the theater without even understanding that Ian was the father of Louise's child. I think I saw something in the spoiler chat too about the uselessness of Jeremy Renner's character. It could have been anyone. Science didn't even come up.


Ugh, feels good to get that off my chest! Excuse any typos, I went into a fugue of anger about the movie while writing that.
I realize now that this should go on the spoiler thread, but y'all are on a completely different subject about which I don't want to argue.


Well, there are a couple things you said that kind of bothered me, so I'll post my agreement with them.

The language learning should have taken longer.  Caveat #1-- This process did take months  Caveat #2-- She had a team of people working with her, figuring it out.  Possible Caveat #3-- The scenes with the aliens were probably representational of much longer sessions.  But still.  To learn a language of a people that don't even breathe the same atmosphere we do is exceedingly complex and would take longer.  But given the caveats, this issue didn't bother me all that much.

The politics were weird.  Whatever China did, Russia and some other country would just follow?  That's crazy. A single phone call changed nuclear war into peace?  But, again, I explained it to myself as movie short cuts.  This isn't Fail Safe.

And I don't think anyone should be able to tell you or me or DH or anyone else what "should" or shouldn't bother you about a film.  We aren't trying to be bothered by a plot point.  And we aren't trying to ignore a plot point.  It just happens.  We go to movies so we can enjoy them.  For people to tell us how to react to a movie don't really understand how movies work. 
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: slowpogo on December 09, 2016, 11:28:44 PM
I've heard several people complain that the translation process was unreasonably quick. I think people are missing a line of dialogue, which might have been part of Jeremy Renner's voice-over segment, where it's said aloud that it will take a few months to get where they need to be. This is after they've already been working on it for a week or two, it seemed. When action resumes, I was assuming that a few months had, indeed, passed.

I wouldn't have minded if they showed more of the linguistics stuff, because they made it interesting to watch, which is a feat unto itself. But I think there was enough of it to get the point across, and no more. Arrival is a lean movie that way. It takes its time easing us into the situation and onto the ship, but even that initial chunk feels purposeful and focused.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: pixote on December 09, 2016, 11:37:02 PM
I'm pretty sure that, at one point, we're told that more than a month has passed ... and then, a few shots later, one of the monitors reads, "Day 27." That's what non-linear time gets you, I guess.

pixote
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: don s. on December 09, 2016, 11:42:34 PM
Tough room.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 10, 2016, 01:21:11 AM
Out of interest, has anyone been to see it a second time? It will obviously read as a different story; the same way events at the end transform themselves. I wondered how that experience would feel.

I mentioned earlier if the idea of linguistics applied to completely alien languages appeals then I can recommend Samuel Delaney's "Babel 17". Language is "weaponised" there as well. 2001 shows mans first tool to be a weapon so those contextual difficulties around the word reminded me of Arrival the other day watching "The Dawn of Man".
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 10, 2016, 03:01:41 AM
Anyone listen to the Q&A with Goldsmith for Arrival ? There are some worthwhile titbits there.

A day later...

The film takes place over several months.

It does, but the transition I am referencing is at the very end and lasts a day. It is when Louise starts properly remembering the things from her future
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: verbALs on December 10, 2016, 04:34:30 AM
That point about dad missing that Ian was future husband/ future dad. I'd ask does it seem that knowing this detail; does it change the movie appreciably? It adds an emotional layer I think but the point is made in one or two lines. I think the movie operates on this ambiguous level (it's clear but the point isn't laboured because the film makes sense whether the individual viewer sees the point or not). If all the pieces were to fit perfectly you wouldn't gain the gift of future sight would you? Also time centred stories tend to go wrong for trying to explain something in detail that contains paradoxes. That there are paradoxes tends to mean;

1) time travel can only exist in stories
2) our understanding of time is so imperfect and the paradoxes indicate this (the paradoxes in Einsteins theories simply tell scientist to keep looking for the right answer)

In this film Louise establishes early on that the aliens don't view time as we do. Villeneuve doesn't explain exactly how they do view time; so your choice is;

1) accept the universe he presents
2) wait for an explanation

And this happens especially in sci-fi. If we didn't accept that spaceships existed then the start of Alien would leave you waiting for an explanation and it's only the relatively simple physics of space flight that mean it isn't a jump to believe the Nostromo is real instead of expecting Scott to spend ten minutes of his film explaining how it is possible. Similarly Robots in Blade Runner. Did Nolan really need to explain what a wormhole is? Maybe in 20 years he would have known better. Time travel? Who knows how that works? If it works? I would question much more if Villeneuve stopped the flow of his film to give us a plausible explanation for time travel.

But I think the movie is interesting for its human qualities not its scientific ones. Most sf isn't geeky and it is about human reactions to strange and unusual events. So going back to the few lines about Ian. He's not that well defined a character. Only Louise is. How Louise responds to Ian and how that rapidly developed as the movie flips her memories into futuresights is why Ian is there. To fulfill Louise's story. It's a mothers story....with aliens and futuresight. Close Encounters is a story of two parents failing their families. The focus has to be human.

I especially appreciate that so many emotional notes are hit but explained ambiguously. These points have so much heft and it indicates the authors and Villeneuve's own understanding of human strengths and frailties.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 10, 2016, 08:48:45 PM
So the film is derived from a short story by Ted Chiang called: The Story of Your Life.
In it, Louise's daughter actually dies at 25-26 and from a climbing accident.
The focus is on her developing awareness around time as she learns the Heptapod written language.
The idea is that when we experience time in a sequential linear fashion, we are bound up in the idea of free will and choice.
When the Heptapods experience their awareness, it's as though they are serving a greater good. Less freedom is implied but also they are bound to make the choices they already know they are slated to make but because they see the impact and interconnectedness of all things, the choice is freely given. They serve a greater purpose.

Quote

When the ancestors of humans and heptapods first acquired the spark of consciousness, they both perceived the same physical world, but they parsed their perceptions differently; the worldviews that ultimately arose were the end result of that divergence. Humans had developed a sequential mode of awareness, while heptapods had developed a simultaneous mode of awareness. We experienced events in an order, and perceived their relationship as cause and effect. They experienced all events at once, and perceived a purpose underlying them all. A minimizing, maximizing purpose.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 11, 2016, 05:07:22 AM
It sounds like the author is, again, trying to have his cake and eating it too, assuming yours is a just description of the heptapods' perception of time. If they experience it non-linearly there can be no free will or choice. They are only going through the motions of what they know must happen. If they could choose otherwise they would not be experiencing that future. I suppose they would be able to adapt their outlook, with heptapods that would be cynical defeatists and others that would have a more Nietzschean embrace of their condition.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 11, 2016, 05:32:56 AM
Quote
Louise's daughter actually dies at 25-26 and from a climbing accident.

This neatly avoids my issue with the death ... the mother has full knowledge that the death would happen at a young age and with prolonged suffering. 
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 11, 2016, 07:58:00 AM
@DH - you propose that the Heptapods would adopt a Nietzschean philosophy based on a humans linear, sequential understanding of the world. I think this is where you are failing in your interpretation. Even their own ideas of philosophy would be influenced by their holistic view of time. I should have been more clear, my quote at the end of my last post was directly from the short story.

In it, Chiang uses the idea of Fermats Principle of Least Time to describe the Heptapods approach to choice/free will. The principle states:

Quote
In optics, Fermat's principle or the principle of least time, named after French mathematician Pierre de Fermat, is the principle that the path taken between two points by a ray of light is the path that can be traversed in the least time. This principle is sometimes taken as the definition of a ray of light.[1] However, this version of the principle is not general; a more modern statement of the principle is that rays of light traverse the path of stationary optical length with respect to variations of the path.[2] In other words, a ray of light prefers the path such that there are other paths, arbitrarily nearby on either side, along which the ray would take almost exactly the same time to traverse.


The Heptapods are aware there are other choices that can be taken, however they choose the path of least resistance.
I find this idea to be quite yogic in its concept. Life lessons seem to return in familiar form until we face them head on at their root cause - for example - I dated the same type of girl, over and over until I started doing my own work on myself and stopped making relationship choices based on a poor self view of myself. I know that this veering way off topic of the film, sorry. So - in order to effectively serve "the greater purpose " the Heptapods simply choose the most direct path because the lessons have already been presented and learned due their experience of all time concurrently. I don't think they would be defeatist at all but come from a place of loving acceptance.
You see your destination.
You see the possibilities.
You take the path of least resistance- just like light.

Suffering is inevitable, Louise was going to have that baby one way or another, if not on purpose then by accident. As I've said before, all life has meaning and value, even a 14 yr life cut short by illness. At least help make it shine bright for it's brief time here.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 11, 2016, 08:45:17 AM
Suffering is inevitable, Louise was going to have that baby one way or another, if not on purpose then by accident. As I've said before, all life has meaning and value, even a 14 yr life cut short by illness. At least help make it shine bright for it's brief time here.

No she wasn't. A second's difference in the conception of the baby and it would have turned out to be an entirely different person up to its genetic code.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 11, 2016, 09:33:27 AM
We are definitely coming at this from two different philosophies.
While the film, which I do realize is the actual point of discussion, is vague on where it stands between science and it's implied spirituality (my interpretation) - the short story is not.
Destiny is a real theme there and how it's handled.
We have choices we can make along the journey but certain waypoints or crystallizing life events are writ in stone and non-negotiable i.e. Louise's baby was a non changeable eventuality.

 But going simply by the films narrative - that is not clear.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: jdc on December 11, 2016, 10:43:03 AM
Quote
Louise's daughter actually dies at 25-26 and from a climbing accident.

This neatly avoids my issue with the death ... the mother has full knowledge that the death would happen at a young age and with prolonged suffering.

Another thing to consider but I am not sure mentioned is that it is not just about the child but also her marriage. If she refursed to have the child on the knowledge that she would die, it is possible the guy might not want to be marry her at all depending on his own desires. 

Just the fact that she could see future events may not have meant she could have chosen otherwise.  She only ever saw one future timeline of events which sort of implies there really are no other possibilities.   
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 11, 2016, 03:22:45 PM
"Daddy left because he thought I made the wrong choice."  or words like that, she said to the child at the pond.  Pretty obvious she chose to have the child.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: pixote on December 11, 2016, 03:46:15 PM
"Daddy left because he thought I made the wrong choice."  or words like that, she said to the child at the pond.  Pretty obvious she chose to have the child.

Well, or Daddy misunderstood the nature of things and whether she truly had a choice.

pixote
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 11, 2016, 04:05:43 PM
"Daddy left because he thought I made the wrong choice."  or words like that, she said to the child at the pond.  Pretty obvious she chose to have the child.

Well, or Daddy misunderstood the nature of things and whether she truly had a choice.

pixote

Maybe Mommy should have made a better job of explaining how her powers work then.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on December 11, 2016, 04:10:59 PM
See, still Mommy's fault!  ;D
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 11, 2016, 04:12:58 PM
Mommy was just fulfilling her destiny.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: oldkid on December 11, 2016, 04:30:15 PM
Well, that pretty much covers it.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on December 12, 2016, 04:52:57 AM
Well, that pretty much covers it.

Combo breaker...
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on December 15, 2016, 11:44:27 AM
A really interesting piece (http://www.tor.com/2016/12/12/communication-and-faith-in-arrival/?utm_source=exacttarget&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_term=tordotcom-tordotcomnewsletter&utm_content=na-readblog-blogpost&utm_campaign=tor) about faith and communication as it relates to Arrival.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Osprey on December 18, 2016, 06:19:04 AM
You don't learn a language by suddenly figuring out how to enable closed caption mode.  This movie is an example of why Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have that sit down in Looper and decide not to think about time travel, because it falls apart when you think about it.

You've brought up a few times about her learning the language from knowing it in the future. I don't remember that about it at all. It's a process to learn it, and we get a nice little montage essentially that shows us all of the hard work and determination of one of the world's renown linguistics minds is doing in order to learn it, having multiple sessions with Abbott and Costello. She is slowly having more and more "flashbacks" over this time because she is slowly learning the language, which gives her the "flashback" power. The bit with General Shang, yes, she is remembering what to say based on her having said it in the future, which falls under your argument of flawed logic, but I don't recall that being the case with the language at all.

What does everyone else remember?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: philip918 on January 13, 2017, 02:58:42 PM
You don't deny someone a chance to exist just because they might will suffer and die young.

If given the same perspective should Joan of Arc's mother have avoided having her? Anne Frank's?

Is one child's life worth saving the world from nuclear winter when China and Russia try to blow up the alien ships?

But, I don't think Louise has a super power. Once she learns the alien language she simply perceives time differently. She sees all of her life at once. It has all already happened. It is destiny.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Teproc on January 13, 2017, 03:15:21 PM
You don't deny someone a chance to exist just because they might will suffer and die young.

If given the same perspective should Joan of Arc's mother have avoided having her? Anne Frank's?

Is one child's life worth saving the world from nuclear winter when China and Russia try to blow up the alien ships?

But, I don't think Louise has a super power. Once she learns the alien language she simply perceives time differently. She sees all of her life at once. It has all already happened. It is destiny.

No free will then ?

It's of course a possible interpretation, but one that I feel renders the film a pointless exercise... because without free will, life is pointless. I don't think that's where the film wants to go really.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: philip918 on January 13, 2017, 05:20:29 PM
I don't see how you get around the fact that she sees the future, not a potential future.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Teproc on January 13, 2017, 05:30:09 PM
That's an inferrence you're making, what makes you say it's the only future possible, predetermined ? She says in one of the flashforwards that she made a choice, so clearly she perceives it that way, and I don't see any reason to doubt it. 
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: philip918 on January 13, 2017, 07:00:31 PM
The aliens come to earth because they will need humanity's help in 3000 years. A civilization's-worth of the myriad individual choices over the course of 3000 years (and, under your interpretation, the aliens' ability to see the outcomes of these choices) still culminate in their need of our assistance at that exact time?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: dassix on January 15, 2017, 10:52:37 PM
It's good to see a movie willing to say something, no matter how loudly - and still execute very well.  Too many movies I've seen in the last year seem to be timid in their scope.  Wiith that said... The flashbacks in the beginning of the movie still have me confused.  This movie will definitely require a second viewing. 
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: philip918 on January 16, 2017, 12:28:13 AM
It's good to see a movie willing to say something, no matter how loudly - and still execute very well.  Too many movies I've seen in the last year seem to be timid in their scope.  Wiith that said... The flashbacks in the beginning of the movie still have me confused.  This movie will definitely require a second viewing.

flash forwards in the beginning
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: IDrinkYourMilkshake on March 29, 2017, 06:36:18 AM
Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

I'm having massive problems with this film. Initially I thought I'd seen a work of real intelligence, profundity and warmth, then I let it sink in and the feeling began to grow that I'd actually seen a sanctimonious, ethically bankrupt, philosophical shambles.

the jury's still out for me, and I intend to read this whole thread to try to get a better grasp, and maybe (hopefully) have my mind changed by the views of some of the rest of y'all.

I grant that there are important points being made about language, about how we communicate and the importance of making an effort to understand each other before we launch to conclusions or snap judgments. this is particularly prescient in meme culture, where almost anyone can be made to look like a giant asshole based on a single quote taken out of context. 

This is all noble stuff, and a point that is more than worth making, and it is clearly the bigger point that Heisserer/Chiang/Villeneuve were trying to make.

I feel I've probably gotten way too hung up on the plot machinations. Is the 'future' Louise is able to see an unalterable, predestined one, or is it something she can control? Does learning heptapod mean that anyone is able to see their future, as the film seems to suggest? What if you learn heptapod, then learn you are destined to be beaten to death by Russian gangsters in a pub car park the following night? Can you not just make sure you are not at the pub? If so, then the choice Louise makes - having a child, knowing full well that the child is going to live a short life, the final years of which presumably in some torment, knowing she has an incurable diseaes - is an abhorrent one, to my mind.

the film heavily suggests that Louise makes the choice to have the child, and even presents this choice as something beautiful - "So, Hannah... This is where your story begins. The day they departed. Despite knowing the journey... and where it leads... I embrace it. And I welcome every moment of it."

How is that supposed to be of any consolation to the child? "You... you mean you knew this was going to happen to me? Yeah - cheers, 'Mum' "

Louise offsets her own joy at having the child for all too brief a time against the pain of the child herself, and the pain of her husband.

It's perhaps unfair to critique films which play with time to make a more profound point about how we, as a species, learn to deal with the changing circumstances of our channels of communication, but nevertheless...

The best writing on dealing with prophecy, knowing the future, and the ambiguities which surround this conceit is still Macbeth. Although, again, maybe I'm being unfair on Heisserer and Chiang... no writer needs that comparison.


Those are my first thoughts. I'm more than happy to be told why I'm wrong.
 
Am I focusing on the wrong stuff here?


EDIT: I'm a couple of pages into this thread, and already seeing that others have raised similar points. Apologies if I'm raking up old ground.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on March 29, 2017, 09:19:27 AM
You're not wrong. In fact, you're one of the only people to be right about this.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on March 29, 2017, 11:21:39 AM
Louise has a child and her experiences with that child are also responsible for her moving forward with her studies of the Heptapod language, averting a worldwide conflict and the evolution of humanity.
While she knew where her (and her child's path) ended, she chose to embrace that path.
In my opinion - everyone in this world deals with suffering - it does not devalue a life or make it not worth living. Everyone's existence, however brief, on this planet is important and meaningful.
I have seen this movie confused with the question of abortion and I feel as though that is very far off base.
To me it is about the needs of the many vs the needs of the few.
Also the idea of fate vs free will.
Was that brief life filled with both love and suffering equal to the benefits gained by its existence?
Once she acted on the future memories of her life, was Louise locked into that path?
Did she ever really have a choice?
Is choice just an illusion?
Do the benefits of knowing/seeing your path give rise the possibility that you are surrendering your choice?

I think it's far more complicated than just "sick kid = bad and no sick kid = good".
I would think that most people no matter how short their tenure would find value in their own existence and it's pretty arrogant of us to place value on their life and determine that it's just better that they never existed.

Edit:

Just read through the entirety of this thread. Good stuff in here from everyone.
Still stand by my concept of the experience of time as an entirety rather than as a linear progression.
I think The director's vagueness on this is the very reason we are having these passionate discussions. Obviously I dig this sort of conversation as I am usually very brief in my posts.  Thanks for getting me out of my shell. :)
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on March 29, 2017, 05:15:50 PM
This was/is a thread I really enjoyed reading and contributing to.  I'm always happy when a movie brings this much discussion to the forum.

Just saw Life...so full of plot holes that it's not worth discussing but somehow I didn't hate it.  So maybe I'll sit through anything and enjoy it.

Oh, wait, I didn't enjoy Peppa Pig Comes to Australia.  It was excruciatingly awful.  But, my grandson loved it so there's that.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on March 30, 2017, 03:21:45 AM
What terrifying murder machine ended up eating Peppa Pig?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on March 30, 2017, 04:25:48 AM
Unfortunately, Peppa lives to OINK another day. 
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: iQuanah on April 09, 2017, 03:16:49 AM
Each time I've watched this film, I find a small nugget that helps me understand what I think is happening. I realize I end up having more questions than answers.

In my latest viewing, I realized we, meaning the audience, never see the future where the aliens are destroyed by humans. We only assume this would be the outcome. Everything that happens points to this one possibility: the destruction of the Heptapods by aggressive military action. Until this point, I assumed the Heptapod's destruction was imminent, and Louise's actions changed the outcome. In that sense, I thought her ability to see the future was more "middle knowledge"--the ability to see an outcome and influence the result, or change the result and still having free will to do so. I thought her choice to continue on with having a child, knowing the outcome, was fully in her grasp as well. Now I'm thinking different.

As the audience is watching the "Arrival" of the Heptapods through the viewpoint of Louise, so are we seeing the arrival of her new "gift." By the end of the film, her "gift" is in its infancy. It hasn't fully developed. Until it does, she can only see small glimpses of her own future events a short distance into the future (short distance meaning 13, maybe 15 years max). More importantly, Louise herself doesn't believe she should behave any different to change any outcomes in her life. Why do I think this? Well, it comes from the term "palindrome." At one point, she tells Hannah her name is special because it's a palindrome: it's the same forward as it is backwards. At first I thought it was because she was honoring the Heptapods by giving her daughter a name that represents a circle. When I did some reading on palindromes, something stood out. In writing, when palindromes are used frequently and with intent they are a form of "constrained writing." Constrained writing is when a writer is bound by some condition that forbids certain things or imposes a pattern. Now I wonder if naming her daughter Hannah was related to the idea that Hannah would be born regardless. There was never a choice for Louise, even in knowing Hannah would die.

For me, the questions now are: is Louise incapable of changing the outcome, but chooses not do? If so, is it because changing any outcome would cause the destruction of future Heptapods?

Or, is she incapable of changing the outcome under any conditions? Is her daughter's birth and death imposed on her, and Ian doesn't understand this when he learns she knew the outcome?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 11, 2017, 04:39:11 AM
The movie is confused about what it's trying to say. The heptapods' abilities suggest that events are predetermined but the manner in which Louise's decision is articulated hints that she would have been able to not have her daughter.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: dassix on April 20, 2017, 09:13:28 PM
This was/is a thread I really enjoyed reading and contributing to.  I'm always happy when a movie brings this much discussion to the forum.

Just saw Life...so full of plot holes that it's not worth discussing but somehow I didn't hate it.  So maybe I'll sit through anything and enjoy it.

Oh, wait, I didn't enjoy Peppa Pig Comes to Australia.  It was excruciatingly awful.  But, my grandson loved it so there's that.

I enjoyed the ride.  This must discussion on a film... I have to take as a good thing in general.  I need to give this film a second viewing though.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: MartinTeller on September 10, 2017, 09:50:59 PM
So she allows Ian to have intercourse with her, knowing full well beforehand it will result in unbearable tragic loss for him, and doesn't give him a say in the matter? Doesn't WARN HIM? That is abhorrent, despicable, unspeakably cruel and selfish behavior.

Doesn't make it a bad movie (it's still miles better than Interstellar), but it undercuts all her little platitudes about life. She's a piece of shit. She doesn't deserve to hold up a sign saying "HUMAN".
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on September 11, 2017, 03:03:43 AM
So she allows Ian to have intercourse with her, knowing full well beforehand it will result in unbearable tragic loss for him, and doesn't give him a say in the matter? Doesn't WARN HIM? That is abhorrent, despicable, unspeakably cruel and selfish behavior.

Doesn't make it a bad movie (it's still miles better than Interstellar), but it undercuts all her little platitudes about life. She's a piece of shit. She doesn't deserve to hold up a sign saying "HUMAN".

Very strong feelings expressed here, MT. While I may not agree with the intensity, I do agree with your sentiment.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 11, 2017, 05:37:58 AM
So she allows Ian to have intercourse with her, knowing full well beforehand it will result in unbearable tragic loss for him, and doesn't give him a say in the matter? Doesn't WARN HIM? That is abhorrent, despicable, unspeakably cruel and selfish behavior.

Doesn't make it a bad movie (it's still miles better than Interstellar), but it undercuts all her little platitudes about life. She's a piece of shit. She doesn't deserve to hold up a sign saying "HUMAN".

THANK YOU!
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: don s. on September 11, 2017, 04:54:00 PM
Here's why I think Martin's and Saltine's anger at the Amy Adams character is misplaced....

The cause and effect is ruined by the non-linear time.  I wonder at the scene with the general, because what caused what?  I think it is too difficult to determine and is often a problem in time-travel films.  I believe there is a cause-and-effect in a non-linear time understanding, but that it is so complicated to be almost impossible to determine.

Even so, Louise's decision isn't exactly causing Hannah to exist.  Or maybe it is.  But if it is, then the decision was already done by the time we see her "make" the decision.

Linear time is an illusion. Somehow, humans evolved to perceive time this way, which turned out to be a boon, since it allowed our primitive brains to understand cycles, which allowed us to invent agriculture and animal husbandry, which in turn allowed us to invent civilization. But it screws up our ability to understand this movie.

I keep seeing references to Louise's "choice." That's another illusion. Her daughter happened/happens/will happen. There's no changing it. Louise experiences it, and as a result of decoding the heptapods' language, she's versed in nonlinear time, and she understands that her experience is immutable.

The heptapods evolved differently. They experience time not linearly, but as something akin to a continuum. They can move back in forth in their own individual times, like we move through space. But they (and we) can't alter their time any more than we can warp the fabric of space. It's here. It's there. It was, is, and will be.

Does that help?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: MartinTeller on September 11, 2017, 05:58:42 PM
Does that help?

Not really. If we're accepting that Louise's choices happened/happen/will happen that doesn't mean she doesn't have a choice. Those things happened/happen/will happen because she's the type of person who did/does/will make those kind of choices.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: don s. on September 11, 2017, 07:34:56 PM
The only thing that changed about the events is that Amy Adams' character became aware of them. Arguably, she never had the opportunity to make a choice: awareness doesn't equal agency, and the events would have played out the same way regardless of the outcome of her encounter with the squids. If you can wrap your head around the idea that linear time is an artificial construct, it makes it easier to reconcile this concept, I think.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: MartinTeller on September 11, 2017, 08:57:32 PM
I don't have a problem wrapping my head around that. I've been a sci-fi fan since like 5th grade. I think you might be missing my point, though. And I'm not sure how to articulate it better. The fact that the events "already happened" doesn't mean she has no agency. Not telling Ian what she knows is the choice she made/makes/will make because that's who she is/was/will always be. If she was the type of person to tell him, then THAT timeline is what  she would have seen. Time is not making her choices for her just because she experiences it non-linearly.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: don s. on September 11, 2017, 09:33:33 PM
Sorry, on rereading just now, the "wrap your head around" remark comes off as patronizing. Didn't mean it that way.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: pixote on September 11, 2017, 09:54:06 PM
The fact that the events "already happened" doesn't mean she has no agency.

Are there moments in the movie that support this reading (insistence on free will)? Or is that something that you as a viewer are projecting onto the story?

pixote
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: saltine on September 11, 2017, 10:41:03 PM
I'm certainly having a hard time wrapping my head around this argument, don s.

Are you saying it's possible that she had the child then learned that the child would die?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on September 11, 2017, 11:07:11 PM
Here's why I think Martin's and Saltine's anger at the Amy Adams character is misplaced....

The cause and effect is ruined by the non-linear time.  I wonder at the scene with the general, because what caused what?  I think it is too difficult to determine and is often a problem in time-travel films.  I believe there is a cause-and-effect in a non-linear time understanding, but that it is so complicated to be almost impossible to determine.

Even so, Louise's decision isn't exactly causing Hannah to exist.  Or maybe it is.  But if it is, then the decision was already done by the time we see her "make" the decision.

Linear time is an illusion. Somehow, humans evolved to perceive time this way, which turned out to be a boon, since it allowed our primitive brains to understand cycles, which allowed us to invent agriculture and animal husbandry, which in turn allowed us to invent civilization. But it screws up our ability to understand this movie.

I keep seeing references to Louise's "choice." That's another illusion. Her daughter happened/happens/will happen. There's no changing it. Louise experiences it, and as a result of decoding the heptapods' language, she's versed in nonlinear time, and she understands that her experience is immutable.

The heptapods evolved differently. They experience time not linearly, but as something akin to a continuum. They can move back in forth in their own individual times, like we move through space. But they (and we) can't alter their time any more than we can warp the fabric of space. It's here. It's there. It was, is, and will be.

Does that help?

THANK YOU!

This film plays with the idea of destiny and fate - while it may be odious to many of us - there really is no way of knowing whether this is all pre-ordained.
Plus again - Ian was not prepared to understand her experience. He was still in the linear arrow of time.
And I personally reject the idea that we must alleviate all suffering to the point of denying a child existence. Who are we to decide if that child's short life was worth living?
All beings serve a purpose and we are obligated to allow them to serve it.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: MartinTeller on September 11, 2017, 11:11:04 PM
The fact that the events "already happened" doesn't mean she has no agency.

Are there moments in the movie that support this reading (insistence on free will)? Or is that something that you as a viewer are projecting onto the story?

pixote

"If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?" I'd say there's implied agency in that sentiment.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on September 11, 2017, 11:14:30 PM
I'd say that we hope there's agency - but will we really know?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: don s. on September 11, 2017, 11:21:41 PM
I actually reject the idea that it would have clearly been more humane not to have her daughter if she had the choice: I'm not sure what's crueler condemning someone to a life that's short and ends painfully or denying someone the opportunity to experience life in the first place. (I'm not really interested in that debate, though.) MY POINT is that Amy Adams' character did not make a conscious choice; she had no power to change the timeline (because time isn't a "line" that can be altered) and so shouldn't be blamed for making a bad "decision." (But I can see Martin's point about her knowingly misleading her husband, though I can imagine mitigating circumstances there. He didn't gain the same nonlinear-time squid-insights, so maybe he, too, assumed that his wife could change things, and that pissed him off [that's what we're told happens, right? It's been a while since I saw the movie].)

Saltine, it makes more sense to me that Amy Adams' character gained awareness of what was coming but went along with it because, along with that awareness, she understood it couldn't be changed. The movie shows us the death of the daughter first, as if to say: this happens, whether Amy Adams wants it or not.

The fact that the events "already happened" doesn't mean she has no agency.

Are there moments in the movie that support this reading (insistence on free will)? Or is that something that you as a viewer are projecting onto the story?

pixote

"If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?" I'd say there's implied agency in that sentiment.

I'd say that we hope there's agency - but will we really know?

I don't remember the statement Martin refers to, but it seems like an incomplete understanding of the implications of nonlinear time, even if it's uttered by a main character in the film.

Speaking of wrapping heads around stuff, I certainly have a hard time imagining what existence must be like when you're able to experience anything and everything that happens to you as a constellation of things rather than a progression. Everything that makes us human our notions of free will and planning and choices; of growing up, retirement, death; of recreation and creativity are keyed to points on a timeline that, even among most organisms on earth, only we perceive (i.e., that our brains manufacture for us).

Suggested playlist:
Morton Feldman: String quartet (II)
John Cage: Atlas Eclipticalis
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: MartinTeller on September 11, 2017, 11:37:07 PM
I'd say that we hope there's agency - but will we really know?

It's a conversation you can have on different levels. On the one hand you could say, "I choose to order waffles because I have agency". On the other hand you could say "I was always going to order the waffles because my genetics and experiences at this point in my life dictates that my preference will be waffles" (that is, the agency we feel like we are exercising is an illusion).

I find the second argument to be valid, but for all practical purposes, kinda useless. Whatever leads Louise to do the things she does, I dislike the character as a result. And feel it's an oversight of the film to have her treat Ian so shabbily and not acknowledge it.


I actually reject the idea that it would have clearly been more humane not to have her daughter if she had the choice: I'm not sure what's crueler condemning someone to a life that's short and ends painfully or denying someone the opportunity to experience life in the first place. (I'm not really interested in that debate, though.)

Yeah, I'm not either. And I'm not as bothered by that choice.


MY POINT is that Amy Adams' character did not make a conscious choice; she had no power to change the timeline (because time isn't a "line" that can be altered) and so shouldn't be blamed for making a bad "decision."

So in your view does this apply to all decisions? Or does it only apply to people with an awareness of their "future"?

(I hesitate to go too far down this rabbit hole of a non-linear time discussion... this could get convoluted real fast)
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: don s. on September 12, 2017, 12:08:04 AM
MY POINT is that Amy Adams' character did not make a conscious choice; she had no power to change the timeline (because time isn't a "line" that can be altered) and so shouldn't be blamed for making a bad "decision."

So in your view does this apply to all decisions? Or does it only apply to people with an awareness of their "future"?

(I hesitate to go too far down this rabbit hole of a non-linear time discussion... this could get convoluted real fast)

I guess it would apply to all decisions. This is probably the part that I struggle with, because of my lifelong linear bias. Your waffle example is a good one, and I can easily accept the idea that all of the factors inherent in one's existence have determined these so-called "choices." Because we experience events in a progression (gah, even the word "event" has a linear-time bias), we naturally begin to imagine that other outcomes are equally possible, but maybe they're not. Also: I hardly ever have waffles and I love them and now I curse the factors inherent in my existence that make that so.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on September 12, 2017, 01:05:13 AM
So we're back at the idea of free will vs destiny?

One thing to consider here in the waffle-hole - why is everyone assuming she doesn't tell Ian ahead of time IF that choice was available to her?
Maybe she did and he accepted her portrayal of this fierce, intense brief life full of both love and joy and pain and loss.
It's been a while since I've seen the film but does she say explicitly that she kept this information from him before conceiving her daughter?
Maybe he bailed because he couldn't see the highs but only could obsess over the lows - sometimes we need the benefit of hindsight to truly appreciate an experience (or the benefit of experiencing it all at once) - it takes far more dogged determination to stay in an unpleasant situation if we have no actual idea of how it will turn out.
To me this is simply the beautiful idea that life can only be truly appreciated by learning to embrace both the agony and the ecstasy. She wrapped her arms around all of it.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: pixote on September 12, 2017, 01:09:53 AM
Reality has a well-known linear bias.

pixote
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on September 12, 2017, 05:48:44 AM
Free will seems to be predicated on the idea that we experience time in a linear fashion so I think once you step outside of that notion, talking about free will becomes this huge mess.

Arrival is about experiencing time in this new way and I've taken it to mean that the Amy Adams character is able to see something about life she didn't understand before experiencing time this way.

When time becomes cyclical, it seems odd to even talk about choice as everything seems predicated on every other piece being in place. Take one out, and the whole timeline breaks.

I wouldn't call that destiny, maybe more nonlinear causality. The whole circle requires every last piece to support the other, even the painful parts. And I see beauty in that, a recognition that even the hurt and trauma can be seen as a part of this bigger, wondrous whole where every event supports the other and weaves this magnificent loop that is one lifetime. I think that's the revelation and I find truth and beauty in that.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on September 12, 2017, 10:13:14 AM
Quote
I think that's the revelation and I find truth and beauty in that.

I am in total agreement here
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: Corndog on September 12, 2017, 11:45:16 AM
The whole circle requires every last piece to support the other, even the painful parts. And I see beauty in that, a recognition that even the hurt and trauma can be seen as a part of this bigger, wondrous whole where every event supports the other and weaves this magnificent loop that is one lifetime.

So Inside Out.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 12, 2017, 12:14:19 PM
Why do people only talk about Arrival when I am sleeping on here?

I don't have a problem wrapping my head around that. I've been a sci-fi fan since like 5th grade. I think you might be missing my point, though. And I'm not sure how to articulate it better. The fact that the events "already happened" doesn't mean she has no agency. Not telling Ian what she knows is the choice she made/makes/will make because that's who she is/was/will always be. If she was the type of person to tell him, then THAT timeline is what  she would have seen. Time is not making her choices for her just because she experiences it non-linearly.

I have never agreed with Martin so much. Like, I agree with him so much I feel I should ask his father for his hand in marriage or something.

I am going to restate what he is saying though, because it is a difficult idea to phrase, and it is a question I care about, and I hope there is point in my doing so.

It should be said however, as a preamble, that the movie, to its dismerit I feel, never clarifies what the rules of time are. It never states whether, with knowledge of time, you are able to change the outcome of a situation or to change a choice. I am going to argue with the assumption that you cannot though, because that is the framework everyone is operating with right now.

Adams cannot change the fact that she is going to have a child. She cannot even change the fact she is not going to tell her soon to be husband about it and all the things it entails. That is preordained. In that we agree.

The important question, however, is, insofar as we make decisions we cannot escape, despite our knowledge of future consequences, why are those the decisions we made or were destined to make? Why was the state of the universe one where Adams had the kid instead of one where she did not? If she had been a woman who had never had children she would have been equally unable to change that post understanding the heptapods than she was in the other situation. So what destines her towards one set of events and not the other one?

The answer is that she makes a decision. At some point she makes the decision and it is the decision she was always going to make. She decides to get pregnant (or at least, not have an abortion) knowing the kid's going to die painfully and she would always have done that. That's the kind of person she is, the kind that takes that deal. She is the kind of person who would not give her husband any say in the matter or warn him of what's coming.

She's a shit human being who gives no thought to other people's feelings or rights when making these decisions. She basically has a kid with a built-in expiration date because she figures the maths' going to add up for her.

Adams does not chance upon a destiny devoid of free will where she has to contend with a life where she is going to have a child. The fact that she is going to have it and the whys and hows of it are entirely dependent on who she is as a person. This is not about learning to live with the fact that you are going to be hit by lightning in three years. Regardless of whether free will exists when you consider time to be non-linear, you still make choices that are revealing of yourself as a person. If she were a good person Adams could never have the future the movie shows us because she would not make those dreadful decisions.

As for the question of allowing someone to exist or not, that's not even a question. Unless we spend 100% of our time copulating and conceiving we are constantly depriving people from the chance of being born. There's always the possibility I could have a brilliant kid in nine months if I impregnated some coed right now instead of typing, but no one's going to regard that kid as existing in any real way. If Adams had a real choice of not having the girl, as per the rules of physics and time of that universe, until she actually had her the bairn would exist as much as my hypothetical coed-spawn.

So we're back at the idea of free will vs destiny?

One thing to consider here in the waffle-hole - why is everyone assuming she doesn't tell Ian ahead of time IF that choice was available to her?
Maybe she did and he accepted her portrayal of this fierce, intense brief life full of both love and joy and pain and loss.
It's been a while since I've seen the film but does she say explicitly that she kept this information from him before conceiving her daughter?
Maybe he bailed because he couldn't see the highs but only could obsess over the lows - sometimes we need the benefit of hindsight to truly appreciate an experience (or the benefit of experiencing it all at once) - it takes far more dogged determination to stay in an unpleasant situation if we have no actual idea of how it will turn out.
To me this is simply the beautiful idea that life can only be truly appreciated by learning to embrace both the agony and the ecstasy. She wrapped her arms around all of it.

The film makes it clear he leaves her when she reveals to him what's going to happen to the yungun.

She wrapped her arms around the agony she deliberately created and would never have existed had she been a real person. It's like a serial killer learning to embrace the pain and hopelessness of life while he rots in prison for his murders. Not my idea of Zen philosophy.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: jdc on September 12, 2017, 10:14:21 PM
It should be said however, as a preamble, that the movie, to its dismerit I feel, never clarifies what the rules of time are.

I think I would have hated this if it went all Nolan on me in its attempt to explain the rules of the universe we are operating in. At least this way, some can enjoy it with the idea that she had no choice to alter the events and others can hate her for being a selfish shit.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 13, 2017, 06:11:47 AM
You can explain things without going full Nolan (never go full Nolan).

I love the poll. Praise be to the admins.

I must say though, I don't think the dichotomy is 100% appropriate, because Martin and mine's point (I think) was that she would still be a selfish shit despite having no choice.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on September 13, 2017, 08:33:18 AM
Maybe this was the point of the film - it's certainly generated a lot of great discussion here.
I'm going to do a rewatch today to find more info on the Ian notification issue. The timeline is important to many - although if the baby doesn't happen then they never avoid the global conflict that almost broke out (non zero sum game) - there's more at stake than Ian's precious feelings of male outrage.

My feeling is there should be a third choice: her choice was courageous and for the good of humanity
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 13, 2017, 08:53:05 AM
What does her kid have to do with the situation?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: jdc on September 13, 2017, 10:53:34 AM
I really would have to rewatch it again which I am not sure I want to do, but is there any point in the film that her decisions are changed by having knowledge of the non-linear timeline? If so, then I might have to change my opinion to the film just being shit as you wouldn't be able to function with the knowledge you could completely change your world and reality by just missing the train or any other random event
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 13, 2017, 11:13:42 AM
Her decisions don't change. She learns about future decisions she will make.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: oldkid on September 13, 2017, 05:28:34 PM
I don't think that she had a choice to have her daughter.  She saw her daughter existed and the end and the process.  She was already in place.

Could she have spoken to Ian?  Possibly.  And if she could, she should have.  Before she did.  But it is possible she couldn't have. 

I am also of the opinion that it is not immoral to chose existence for another, even though that life has suffering in it. 

I had a conversation with my son the other day in which he told me that if I had known that he would be born on the Autism spectrum, that my DNA contained the likelihood that he would be born with it, he would have preferred that I had not had children.  He would rather not exist.

On the other hand, I have seen days and years of him living with great joy and energy and vibrancy and he shared that with all around him.  On those days, he would have preferred to existed.  I could not make the choice to make him not exist, even though he has times that he wished I had made that choice.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: St. Martin the Bald on September 13, 2017, 05:35:45 PM
Even in spite of her alleged withholding of facts - why isn't Ian a shit for bailing on his terminally ill child?
He sheds all accountability AND gets to be a martyr because (supposedly) Louise is the bad person here, not even human by some estimates?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: MartinTeller on September 13, 2017, 10:52:55 PM
The important question, however, is, insofar as we make decisions we cannot escape, despite our knowledge of future consequences, why are those the decisions we made or were destined to make? Why was the state of the universe one where Adams had the kid instead of one where she did not? If she had been a woman who had never had children she would have been equally unable to change that post understanding the heptapods than she was in the other situation. So what destines her towards one set of events and not the other one?

The answer is that she makes a decision. At some point she makes the decision and it is the decision she was always going to make. She decides to get pregnant (or at least, not have an abortion) knowing the kid's going to die painfully and she would always have done that. That's the kind of person she is, the kind that takes that deal. She is the kind of person who would not give her husband any say in the matter or warn him of what's coming.

This is the crux of what I've been trying to say. I don't really understand the "she has no choice" option. Just because she's seen a thing happen, she goes into automatic zombie mode when it's time for the thing to actually happen? Or how does that work? I feel like "has no choice" is putting the cart before the horse. There is no outside force dictating her actions. The visions she sees are of the reality she exists in and helped create. If she hates seafood, she wouldn't see a vision of herself greedily chowing a shrimp cocktail (and then think, "welp, I guess I'm gonna have to do that the next time someone puts a shrimp cocktail in front of me...."). She sees herself having the child (and not telling Ian until way later) because that's what she would do, will do, and did.

Even in spite of her alleged withholding of facts - why isn't Ian a shit for bailing on his terminally ill child?
He sheds all accountability AND gets to be a martyr because (supposedly) Louise is the bad person here, not even human by some estimates?

Who said Ian isn't a shit? Who called him a martyr? Yeah, that's a shitty thing to do also. But the movie focuses a lot more on Louise, and doesn't seem to even acknowledge the moral gray area of her choices. Not that it needs to, mind you. It just left me with a bad taste in my mouth concerning her character.

FWIW, my feelings about the film are mostly positive.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 14, 2017, 06:13:17 AM
Even in spite of her alleged withholding of facts - why isn't Ian a shit for bailing on his terminally ill child?
He sheds all accountability AND gets to be a martyr because (supposedly) Louise is the bad person here, not even human by some estimates?

Who said Ian isn't a shit? Who called him a martyr? Yeah, that's a shitty thing to do also. But the movie focuses a lot more on Louise, and doesn't seem to even acknowledge the moral gray area of her choices. Not that it needs to, mind you. It just left me with a bad taste in my mouth concerning her character.

Yeah, no one's going around and calling Ian a good guy, there's no need to insist upon the fact. I would argue though, that he was put into an impossible position by a being with superpowers and higher cognisance who fully took advantage of him, and despite being a deadbeat, he is also a victim, and his deadbeatness is partly motivated by weakness. But yeah, don't abandon your kids you guys.

FWIW, my feelings about the film are mostly positive.

I should remind myself of this more often.

Martin, did you feel the movie agreed with us in that how we read it was what it was trying to say or did you get the impression it was trying to say something different? I came out of it thinking Villeneuve made a denouement that had nothing to do with the message he intended to put in the movie stemming from a different understanding of how time perception and agency work.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: MartinTeller on September 14, 2017, 08:37:41 AM
I think that the treatment of how time and agency work for Louise is ambiguous by design (because, really, any attempted breakdown of how time "travel" works quickly becomes convoluted and then tedious... which is where this thread is headed soon). I am not sure Villeneuve considered the possible reading of Louise's ethics as questionable. Honestly, just 15-20 seconds of the scene where Louise breaks the news to Ian (showing a justified response of "you knew BEFORE WE CONCEIVED?!?") would have gone a long way towards giving the movie some added moral depth. I think the film does Ian a real disservice by dismissing him as merely the father who couldn't hack it when things got tough (again, I'm not excusing his actions either).
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: pixote on September 14, 2017, 01:26:48 PM
(https://68.media.tumblr.com/7fc547a0dfe18cd5f90eb769f956aa60/tumblr_opyrbuyR0B1vg9m1ro1_500.gif)
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on September 15, 2017, 03:09:24 AM
Are moderators bestowed with more evolved capacities to perceive space and time?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: IDrinkYourMilkshake on October 27, 2017, 02:27:54 AM
Wow! Lots of interesting debate on here. Loving the poll.

I think I hate this film.

If, as 60% of you see to think, Louise merely sees the choices she will inevitably make, then what is the point of the whole Heptapod plot? In fact the Heptapods are scumbags for giving us a method with which to reveal our futures. To see our respective futures and be unable to change squat about any of it would not a glorious, heart-warming thing of soft tones and stirring music. It would be a nightmare.

What if, for example:

"Ah well, 5:30, time for me to clock out"
"See you tomorrow"
"Nah, 'fraid not. Getting mugged and stabbed at 6:15. They rush me to hospital but there's way too much internal damage. Dead by midnight."
"Aw... jeez.... "
"Yep. Still, nothing can be done, right?"
"F*cking heptapods."

eh? What if that?

The script heavily suggests that Louise has agency in the choices she makes.

Because if she doesnt, then doesnt that undermined any sense of tension in the film? If she only ends up making choices she would have made anyway, then the big war was always going to be avoided. All the Heptapods have done is come down from their big aquarium and f*cked with us all.

Maybe that's the point... Heptapods are a-holes. If they ever come, we should just ignore them until they fly off to cause a big mess somewhere else.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 27, 2017, 02:58:51 AM
Well, they were trying to save their species from extinction...
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: IDrinkYourMilkshake on October 27, 2017, 03:32:00 AM
Did they fear their species was going to go extinct?
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 27, 2017, 04:27:53 AM
That's the whole reason they came to Earth, so they could give us the tools that would allow us to help them survive in 5,000 years.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: IDrinkYourMilkshake on November 02, 2017, 12:33:42 PM
But if the 'future' is fixed, then they only saw what they were going to do anyway. To know they were going to die out implies that they had seen some alternate future which they were trying to avoid.

Therefore, Louise = selfish.

Also therefore Heptapods = selfish. Coming here, disrupting our lives.

Shoulda let China nuke 'em.
Title: Re: Arrival
Post by: DarkeningHumour on November 02, 2017, 12:41:26 PM
Hey, no one said the science of the movie had been thought through. I stand by my point, with the added caveat that the whole thing does not make sense because people cannot remember or future remember things they never learn.