February 1, 2017
In the way that it plays with time, Arrival reminds us that we live in the balance of human responsibility and God's sovereignty.
The tension of an eternal perspective was definitely one of the major themes of this movie, and I couldn't help but see a glimmer of Christian perspective in the protagonist's decision at the end of the film (which I won't spoil for other readers). In a way--an understated, but nevertheless very powerful way--Dr. Banks' choice at the end of the movie is not altogether different from Jesus' eternal choice to endure the cross for the sake of the joy set before him (Heb 12:2).
The other theme--one I found equally if not more compelling--is the way the written word is an intrinsically imperfect attempt to accommodate a superior understanding to an inferior one. The heptapods' understanding of time and reality transcends that of the humans', and in Dr. Banks' attempts to translate the written characters of the heptapods into human expressions, we see the disastrous results of failing to grasp nuances of a superior intellect that just don't translate well. Like when the same word could be translated "tool" or "weapon" and all the various cultures of the world that are simultaneously trying to understand the heptapod characters respond in predictably protective ways according to the culture-bound connotations associated with the word in their OWN language.
Makes me think a LOT about how carefully we have to treat the Scriptures, for they, too, represent an accommodation of an infinite Mind to those of limited understanding. Rightly dividing the Word of Truth is every bit as critical a mission as Dr. Banks'--and infinitely more consequential.
Ted Chiang's short story The Story of Your Life, on which the movie is based, is worth reading for more insight into the ideas of time and, shall we say, eternity in the film.
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