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Denis Villeneuve’s new film ARRIVAL is a philosophical Sci-fi film in which aliens teach a linguistics professor, who just lost her daughter to cancer, about circular temporal consciousness.


Denis Villeneuve’s new film ARRIVAL isn’t about aliens at all at first, but rather about overcoming trauma. Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is grieving over her daughter who died of cancer. A repeated vertical camera pivot shows wooden panels going up to the ceiling of a patio followed by the gray sky and the leaden sea, mirroring the gaze of someone depressed who is looking at the ceiling for long enough before hesitantly preparing to enter their dreary routine again. The routine as a professor dramatically changes when numerous cell phones begin to hum and ring at a lecture and a student asks Prof. Banks to turn on the TV. 12 alien spaceships have landed on Earth. Panic, riots, looting are the immediate reaction. At night, a helicopter lands on Louise’s garden. Her knowledge as a linguist are needed in order to contact the aliens.
After several secrets and plot twists it becomes clear that the aliens haven’t just developed a languagethat also transmits a type of consciousness technology which leads to a new circular consciousness that is similar to Gilles Deleuze’s reception of Nietzsche. The idea of the eternal return leads to Deleuze’s ethics of double affirmation: “what you want, is also what you want to have eternally return. The question in everything you want to do is: “do I want to do it countless times?” and that has the heaviest weight.” (Deleuze, Nietzsche, and Philosophy, 1991, page 76). Gille Deleuze would have liked ARRIVAL and it’s clear that Villeneuve likes Deleuze ever since ENEMY.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: Arrival
USA 2016, 116 min
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Author: Eric Heisserer, Ted Chiang
DOP: Bradford Young
Montage: Joe Walker
Music: Jóhann Jóhannsson
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Cast: Tzi Ma, Amy Adams, Forest Whitaker, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg
FSK: 12
Release: 24.11.2016




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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