Arrival is based on spirituality: No, I am serious
Spirituality is about one's connection to something bigger than ourselves.
Arrival, a sci-fi movie about aliens is actually about spirituality.
No, this is not a joke.
So last week, I watched Arrival directed by Dennis Villeneuve. That last bit about the director is different because I came across a different movie named Arrival that was way different than this. This one is on Netflix.
Arrival is a great sci-fi movie with an amazing premise and it blew my mind. I don't want to give out any spoilers of the movie, really because I want to encourage you to watch it and if you don't want to pay Netflix for that, read an article or read the book, Story of Your Life by
I highly encourage you all to experience that story.
Anyway, let's get to the main thing. Why am I calling "Arrival" a movie about spirituality when it is clearly sci-fi? It’s all about the theme of the movie.
For the uninitiated, theme is a simple idea that forms the theme of the larger story. For a simple example, Harry Potter, not matter how much wand whipping and fancy Latin words are in there, the story the theme of the story is love. How Voldemort was born and raised without love and Harry was protected from the evil wizard by the power of his mother’s love.
That is theme.
As for Arrival, I am going to give you a tiny rundown of one aspect of the movie that forms the basic premise and the main twist of the movie. I will try to keep this spoiler free so it will about only one concept and not the twist and all.
In the movie, we see flashes of Louise and her daughter’s interaction and when I first encountered them, I was like, “Hmm, okay, flashes of memories, that is not new,” Because it usually not. Flashes in a movie are usually placeholders for memories as they are for this movie, but here, things are different.
Flashes are usually for the audience to see, and rarely not something that happens in story but in this movie, they are.
HOT TAKE: Flashes are a cop out for filmmakers to tell the audience something that has happened in the past and generally the state of mind of the character. They are used well in many mystery thrillers, to show how someone did something, which makes a case for them, but I wish there was something else that would not interrupt the scene/flow of the movie
They are not that way Arrival.
In Arrival, the flashes are more like visions that our main character Louise gets. In this way, the flashes are not only something that is for the audience but an integral part of the movie as well. A huge part too.
Now, how is our lowly human Louise able to have visions all of a sudden?
By learning a new language of course! Yeah, that is right! If you’re able to learn Sanskrit in less than 3 months, you can have the powers of the divine.
But this is really what happens. The movie explanations for her “dreams” are explained by the fact that her brain is getting rewired and now she can experience past, present and future all at the same time.
Time is a concept that is a higher power of sorts. Time heals wounds, time can make you forget and time is something that if you lose, you are screwed. Even death, a concept that is something you cannot escape and is often associated with fate, is often phrased with time.
My time has come.
Our time is over.
And not only humans, the universe also functions at the whims of time. In a dead universe, a black void where there is no up, down and forward, a pocket watch will still tick.
This is why I think Arrival is a movie about spirituality. Louise’s mind is not suddenly connected to a bigger mechanism that let’s interact with a higher power, that is time, her mind is just rewired. Meaning, that with just the right arrangement of neurons, our brains can connect to this higher power. We all have the potential to do this, we just need proper conditioning.
And isn’t that what spirituality about?
Granted, it is not what many people accept spirituality to be. It is not about our greater purpose of life or the meaning of it, but like many of human created constructs, the meaning of spirituality is open to interpretation.
Louise’s ability to connect with Time in this way lays a foundation of how we can intimately connect to a higher power with just some simple tweaking.
Honestly, this is the closest I think science will ever come in harmony with spirituality.
This is at the core of the plot because this is how, at the climax of the movie, the conflict is resolved. Louise, the human race, were doomed without this ability and this concept. So, in short, because a human flourished on the path of spirituality, two species, humans and aliens, were saved.
See, it was not a joke.
I told you I am serious.