Arrival: A Response To Bad Movies

Arrival: A Response To Bad Movies


It was Stephen Fry I think who said: “A true thing poorly expressed is a lie.” It’s the theory that the language they speak determines how you think and… Yeah, it effects how you see everything. The point being that there is no thought without expression, no content without form that an idea however profound it feels to you does not really exist until you can write it down or in some cases put it on film. To watch Denis Villeneuve’s arrival is to watch a filmmaker in command of the language, his ideas presuppose just to say that he has a firm grasp on craft. I can’t really tell you how soothing this is for me as a filmgoer to feel that I’m in the hands of someone who knows why the film is constructed the way it is. So much of today’s filmmaking is all over the place to the point where the viewer has to exert themselves more to compensate for a lack of focus. In this way, I think Arrival is the perfect response to the bad movies we see so much of. Pretty much everything they do wrong arrival does right, it is effective and impactful and it does this by focusing on the very thing that affects and impacts us- language, but I think Arrival is just as concerned with the language of film as it is with written or spoken or alien language, for example the first couple scenes are kind of like an enlarged experiment in the kuleshov effect- the phenomenon in which a viewer derives meaning from two sequential shots that Hitchcock famously illustrated by turning a kindly gentleman into a pervert by replacing a single reverse shot Villeneuve does the same thing in Arrival, but on the scene level. The first scene is a montage of the birth and young death of Amy Adams’ daughter, the second scene is Adams coming to teach at her school on the day of the aliens’ arrival. Because of the tragedy we witness in the first scene and our assumption that the film’s timeline is linear we read Adams disinterest here as despondency and her general dry demeanor as one of deep sadness and heartache. It’s not until we finish the film and learn that the opening montage happens after the events of the movie, that we understand Adams in the second scene was merely a blank canvas that we attached meaning to. “Montage means the assembly of pieces of film which moved in rapid succession before the eye, create an idea.” What separates Villeneuve from many other filmmakers is his ability to generate ideas with cinematic craft then on another level mingle those ideas, collide and blend them to create a higher order of meaning. So what’s the meaning for example that Villeneuve suggests with this Kuleshov effect experiment, perhaps that the future can influence the past? That’s certainly a reasonable thing to derive from this kind of experience in the film, in fact it’s an idea that turns out to be the key to the climax of Arrival as Adams learns that the Aliens are higher dimensional beings that can see all of time at once, and uses that skill to access future events to influence her present. “I called you didn’t I?” “Yes, you did.” But you could also read another meaning from the same experience, namely that communication is limited by perspective. From our perspective at the beginning of the film everything tells us that Adams is grieving, only later do we learn that that wasn’t true. This too is a major theme of Arrival- the limits of human communication are reinforced and expanded upon in probe throughout the film, the limits of our biology of relying on what our senses report, the limits imposed on us by our culture or our own personalities. “Trust me you can understand communication and still end up single.” In conversation with the aliens communication is literally imagined as a screen- a mediator that blurs intention. Now screens can connect us, they can also divide us and it’s the same with communication. Communication is a link between two parties, but it’s a link that often facilitates split. “Language is the foundation of civilization is a glue that holds the people together, is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.” “We are falling asleep at the wheel people you know what I’m talking about I know you do.” What’s important here is not that both these readings are valid, they are, but that both have echoes elsewhere in the film and echo off each other, a theme once introduced isn’t wasted. The alien language is circular, so the film is too. The difficulty of cooperation in the small group at the Montana site echoes the difficulty of cooperation between Nations. Louise’s understanding of her displacement in time happens simultaneously with the audience’s realization that the events depicted aren’t linear. “Non-zero-sum game?” Every theme is filtered through other moments and characters and eventually other themes until it starts to feel like something solid, you start to think what is the relationship between language and time. Maybe it’s that the mind is not a thing, but a process, language happening in time, just like film is communication occurring in time. [Speaking Russian] So much of Arrival seems to be about the possibility of meaning in film. What is it? Where does it come from? I think Villeneuve imagines it as an alien spacecraft: mysterious, obscure, an expression that’s not quite written or spoken language, and so always difficult to decipher. Something when bored out of craft and character and story is always hovering over the film. It’s always in the background seen from different angles impossible to avoid. Arrival isn’t just a repudiation of bad movies because it leads by example. It’s also I think an act of exploration into what makes a movie great. It explores the kind of unique perspective that a film can gift to the filmgoer like a language gifted by aliens, and what kind of brand new world that perspective allows us to see. Hey everybody, thanks for watching. Happy Wednesday and happy Valentine’s day to my girlfriend who’s sitting right over there. Even though it’s a daylight I recorded this on the all-time stay so I love you baby. Anyway. Thank you squarespace for sponsoring this video. If you don’t know squarespace has beautiful award-winning designer templates for websites for your business so if you’re a musician or a restaurant, or whatever, Squarespace is the perfect all-in-one tool for designing a website for that It’s flexible the domain name is really easy, and you don’t have to know coding or anything and if you use the offer code- Nerdwriter you can get 10% off your first purchase, which is which is pretty cool. Anyway thanks guys for that, and I’ll see the rest of you next Wednesday, love you, baby.

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  1. I think you’re the only one who explained things more clearly to me. I looooove this video ❤️❤️

  2. Your depiction is as as thorough as it can be . You really help me see movies in a different light ,a clearer one ,making my cinematic experience all the more enjoyable , and for that i thank you 🙏
    Ps: there was a song playing around 05:50 which i've encountered many times before but i don't know its name .if anyone happens to know it please share , you'll be doing me a great favor .

  3. I thought arrival didn't have a convincing story. Don't understand why so much of you like it that much.
    The soundtrack you use on this vid is in "Shutter Island". Now that's a good movie. One of the best I've seen. Anyone up for discussion is welcome 🙂

  4. The irony to me here is that Arrival is a bad movie. It's well shot and looks very pretty but the movie as a whole falls flat and doesn't leave an impact. I was pretty disappointed

  5. I always though that blank Louise vs Louise with her daughter was to drive home the point that even to most tragic of outcomes can be worth striving for if the journey is the absence of tragedy. Or at least i though that was more of an aside the movie wanted do make. Well i feel fucking stupid for thinking it was that easy.

  6. I think that when she was in the spaceship with fog she was impregnated by special ink. Pod wanted everyone by the time they came back running in circles and then they had a planet they could run using hula hoops

  7. an alien race that has mastered time and space and matter and the burden falls to *US* to figure out communication?! COMPLETE fucking bullshit nonsense.

  8. I've seen it in cinemas and it was allright. I remember vividly how when they enter the alien structure was very cgi laden….
    The Arrival (1997 i think) with Charlie Sheen is a very good underrated scifi movie. A little bit like Contact

  9. i bought Ted Chiang's "story of your life" and i'm unpacking it. Denis connected well with his craft to deliver it's content in a disarming and an engaging way. Perhaps it takes art to sketch the aspects of E=mc2

  10. Yeah right, aliens are like, "step right in dawg, it's free for all… Talk to us, irritate us with bloody caged bird chirping, establish a lab right inside the space ship", all this while they stay locked away without any means of security. Language is their weapon, to witness time before it happens (so much so that they knew they'd need humans in 3000years), but poor abbot apparently didn't see it coming… Stupid woman knew her kid will die but didn't adopt one instead of getting pregnant.
    I could go on and on about this octopussy alien movie, but well the concept of time is not linear is what brought me to this… And i like the idea, that's the only good thing to watch here

  11. The opening montage happens after the events of the aliens, but there are very subtle clues which let us know Adams is having lucid dreams of a daughter who dies. Because of Adams' learning the alien language and developing a non-linear temporal mindset, her past self is affected as much as her future self. So she's been having lucid dreams of her child without understanding how the heck this is happening. It comes together when Adams, toward the end of the film, asks the aliens if they knew about the child – her child – which she's been seeing for years. It's also kind of unfair, because Adams has essentially been prepared for what happens with her daughter for a long time, while her husband does have that advantage.

  12. I totally understand how people love this movie. I think it was beautifully filmed, and I liked the tone. What I personally didnt like were the cuts to the sick child. I understand the purpose of it, but i wish it wasnt part of it. It was distracting and it disengaged me. Maybe it's because I cant stomach it. Unfortunate because I really wanted to like it.

  13. For every dumb movie there are always few people who wanna think they are smart and others didn't get the movie. Arrival is a classic example

  14. The ending of this movie was fucking atrocious. How anyone could walk away without hating this turd, I don't understand.

  15. It's not just language and communication though it's the nature of thought as embodied. Hence the restatement of the Sapir-whorf hypothesis at the start of the film, which was in fact the inspiring idea behind the short story which led to the film. You included that quote from the film at the very start here but haven't actually included it in your own analysis.

  16. One of the best examples of a pretentious movie that isn’t nearly as clever as it thinks it is. Absolutely terrible storytelling (for example, there’s one plot-dump in the middle of the movie that is out of nowhere and is never used again), full of plot holes, full of underwritten characters, little girl with cancer trope that tries to force a connection in lieu of good writing, and a stupid “twist” ending that, for all its delusions of artistic genius, has basically the same theme as fucking “One Week” by Barenaked ladies. It wasted such a good premise. It had some really good moments, but it was all style and no substance. But art-house audiences will eat it up and forgive any bad writing because of the imagined deep theme. Seriously, so much crap about this movie is completely made up out of nowhere. Most of this video was complete speculation and not reflective of the film at all. It just proves that if you throw a bunch of stylistic crap and Forest Whitaker in a movie, everyone’s going to think it’s the fucking Crying Game. I’m sure any criticism like my own is going to be brushed off like “oh, you just don’t understand you plebeian, you’re not enlightened enough to see the true meaning past all of the shitty storytelling and plot holes” as well. Seriously, sick of pretentious movies that think they’re something they’re not.

  17. Everything was already like this in the original short story!!!
    Even when I kinda liked your analysis, I must say that the way the story is told in the movie is following the short story it is based on, Ted Chiang's "Story of your life" in the original story her future is also mixed with the present events, so you really aren't sure of the timeline. So the merit or the praise, should go to Chiang, I think. However, the story is super well adapted, they did a good job. The movie is beautiful.

  18. One of my favorite movies of all time! watched it again the other day and it still makes me want to cry like a little baby.

  19. Not gonna lie, arrival is the best Science-Fiction Movie i have ever seen. Not particularly the one i enjoyed the most, but the best one nonetheless.

  20. I appreciate the attempt, but the circular framing device failed for this viewer. The whole movie was left hollow. Not sure why, but I knew we had flashed back, and so the whole movie became a vehicle for a ham-fisted love-loss story. Seemed to be a useful way to distract from not actually explaining the aliens.
    It's cool you found all of this in there, but I felt it missed the mark.

  21. So well said, and I particularly relished the Tarkovsky quote. "Do you know yourself?" "Only as well as anyone does." — Solaris

  22. I do love this film. I've watched it repeatedly. I had it broken down pretty much the first time I watched it, but then I'm an artist trained to see. I watch it now as a moving painting.

  23. I was so confused at first by the title of this video until i started watching. Now I feel more validated that one of my favorite films is seen so highly by others as well.

  24. Your wrong mate. I don't know how many times I've had to point this out…the narrative is not linear…I don't mean that the order is simply mixed up, I mean the story itself. So in the second scene, where Amy is respondent, it is because she HAS lost her daughter. It is also an event in her future simultaneously. It is the whole point of the alien language…non linear, the language unlocks time itself!

  25. One of my favorite movies of all time I've seen many many times now and never get bored. It's very emotional. I hope Denis Villeneuve has along life and makes lots of movies.

  26. That was one of the better movies I've ever watched, I think you just aren't wired for it, if you think it was bad. That's you, not the movie.

  27. In first place director why show terrorist country like pakistan in this movie . They definitely terrorised the aliens. Lol

  28. i was in the sneak preview when this movie came out. And i really didnt like it sorry. I looked great, the sound was good, but the whole main idea, an alien that has a different view of time is pretty unbelievable. They communicate in circles so that a sentence has no start or beginning – sounds clever at first. but remember what how they communicate. They "spray" the sentence into the air. There is a "timeline" to this event. And also – as society evolves and language – there is no organic or logical way how this could happen. the first forms of communication with this "sprayhole" in your body would have been simple words, followed by longer words. There would never be any animal that would evolve into something like this. Also – even if its possible in theory to communicate like that – your partner needs time to read the sentence too. The better the language (again: as an intelligent species the language MUST evolve into more complex structures) the harder it gets to "instantly" understand the whole sentence. This way limits your depth in speech significantly. Your sentences cant have too many words (too big of an circle) and the words need to be simple (in order to recognize their shape within the others) and in the end even, it will be harder and harder to physically "spray" these vape nation language into the air. Also, there is no way for a younger alien to instantly get this right. They would start with one word, then two words, then four words without grammar until they can form a whole sentence. at which point do you think the parents would teach their child so stop stuttering and begin to fluently blast whole sentences into the air? Who decided this would make more sense or would be easier or prettier? Wouldnt that way of speaking require a lot of wisdom , because you need to look at every situation as a whole, as one big large concept and you would need to fully understand everything right before you spray? if so, how would older "wiser" people talk to younger less wise people? How would you teach someone the meaning of lets say "family" if they barely know any words?

    lastly, without the concept of time as a line, you are missing out important structures in your sentence such as "A and then B. But before all of that C" or "If you A, the you B". It is highly unlikely that anything they produced came to them as whole big concept. research showed, that the ability of speaking is close to the ability to enjoy and create music. rhythm is a function of time. technology needs time. time is everyones master, its basically the only thing we have no control over. historically time keeping was one of the very early concepts for humans in order to progress. you cant describe movement, progression, growth without time. It just doesnt make sense. The creatures are either impossible or are directly immortally created by a god, so they would work in that way.

    When the main idea of a movie is so heavily flawed i feel kinda stupid sitting in a cinema, watching a bullshit idea continue on and on. it annoys me to find problems of that idea every 5 minutes.

  29. 6:44 This was so performative. She's sitting right next to you, you could have said "Happy Valentine's Day, I lovey you baby" when you turned the camera off. You didn't even publish this on V-Day! You just need everyone to know what a ~nice guy you are, huh?

  30. I have a slight curiosity of whether the radiation that Ian and Louise exposed themselves to in the ship led to the genetic disease that Hannah ended up dying from.

  31. Kuleshov was demonstrated by kulechov himself in the first quarter of the 20th century, eisenchtein was the was who turned it into analytical montage

  32. I was extremely baked for this movie, and I can't express how amazing that experience was. It was my first time trying moonrocks too. The experience was so otherworldly lol

  33. I'm sure this content is golden, and I will watch it all at some point….but two minutes in and I just want to watch arrival again.

    There are too few movies this good.

  34. Sorry no amount of talking is going to make a bad movie good if you have to explain it then you don't get it

  35. You missed the fact that there was no timeline, that was the whole story of the movie. Thanks to alien language she wasn't limited to any particular moment, she could experience everything at once, her daughter birth, death, all conversations with her and so on. So she was in fact grieving in second scene.. just go and watch it again. Past happened because of the future and vice versa.

  36. IMO this movie comprised the usual incredibly stupid """scientists""" team so it cannot be a good movie (or approaching this category)

  37. I have watched Arrival couple of time, brilliant ideas about alien language and their thoughts about time psychic. We think we can communicate linear with other aliens but it would be far more complicated.

  38. Someone help me find the exact version of the beginning song. Not the original "on the nature of daylight", but this exact one. With bass violin at the beginning right away. It's beautiful and I rly want to find it…

  39. I’d say that a true thing poorly expressed is simply a partial failure to express, or communicate, that truth.. The truth is still there… However, Arrival is the best Sci-Fi film I’ve seen in a looooong, looooong time.

  40. Except that.. Arrival doesn't fare too well on a second view. Actually, it totally crumbles. And it has the biggest plot hole in the history of cinema because nobody has stopped to think what happened after any number of random people learns (because of the book she writes) the alien language that allows you to understand, think and act upon non-linear time.

  41. I absolutely agree. Many may disagree with me, but I truly feel this is one of the greatest films ever created. It impacted me personally, in a way that very few other media has.

  42. It was a good movie. The perspective over the Alien language was mind blowing. I liked their idea that was used as a concrete for this movie. After watching it, I said myself that if we have encountered with extraterrestial life somehow, their language would've been like this. Of course we cannot be sure of any of it. But the whole thing of this movie left me a great taste.

  43. Aliens that can’t speak English?? They spent years in space come no here but forgot to watch a Netflix show?? Google translater too good for them???? This movie was overrated!

  44. I love how this movie plays with our perception. First, the perception of time, and also the perceprion of space, when the scientists first get to see aliens and the up turns out to be the front.
    Makes you…believe?

  45. This was a great video, i think you missed on opportunity to talk about how the characters assign meaning to the language in the film and how we as viewers assign meaning to film. P.S. Thank you for this channel. A new rabbit hole for me to get lost in.

  46. If we get deeply to theory about seeing future, it starting doesn't make sense. Our time is linear, so in the universe, every started action would be come to an end. Entropy wouldn't permit this. Realization about trueness of this means that we haven't free will at all. Scary true as from the big bang everything is predetermined, even in the small scale from our perspective.

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