November 21st, 2016
|02:52 am - Arrival, An Excellent SF Film|
Today, teaotter and I went to see Arrival, which was very good indeed. My first thought about this film is in large theaters, it's now clearly a requirement to purchase tickets online, so as to avoid having to sit in the front row ever again.
My next thought is that it was a remarkably faithful and well done adaptation of Ted Chiang's Nebula Award winning novella "Story of Your Life". For me, it's right up there with the 1980 PBS adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven in terms of excellent adaptations, but in this case there was a fair amount added that worked quite well. I highly recommend it as a well-done thoughtful SF film, which is a rare thing indeed. My one quibble gets into mild spoiler territory a bit.
The novella was pretty clear that time was utterly deterministic and that there was no choice, merely acceptance, and so choices were in many ways meaningless. The film was far less clear about this, and at least to me, a valid reading is that some events can't be changed by their nature, but intelligent beings who understand the heptapod written language can see the future and potentially change at least their own actions. If true, this casts Louise's actions in a rather different light, especially in regards to not telling Ian about Hannah's inevitable future illness earlier than it seemed she did. OTOH, I like that view of time considerably more than the story's.
One less pleasant thing teaotter and I both thought about during the film was now alien contact would go with our upcoming government.
Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comments there.
|Date:||November 21st, 2016 11:12 am (UTC)|| |
Thank you! I was debating whether or not to see it, and now I shall.
It was a great movie.
I spent about ten seconds being bothered by the Sapir-Whorf line, but I figure, if I can accept anti-gravity for the purposes of an SF story, I can accept a magical alien language which, unlike any human language, alters how you think.
|Date:||November 22nd, 2016 12:04 am (UTC)|| |
Agreed on all counts. I tend to draw the line at "people only use 10% of their brains, but this drug lets them use 100%", but beyond that, if the story's good, I'm OK.
|Date:||November 21st, 2016 09:42 pm (UTC)|| |
Good to know! And thanks for putting the Cut where you did. I'll read that bit AFTER seeing the film. Oh, is it worth seeing in the theater versus waiting for home video/Netflix/whatEVER?
I'd say so. The use of sound, and the overwhelming effect of the film works particularly well in this case.
|Date:||November 21st, 2016 10:50 pm (UTC)|| |
Ah, good to know - thanks. I'll aim for a cheap mid-week matinee.
Maybe the aliens will beam up Trump to study hubris' effect on the human personality.
|Date:||November 22nd, 2016 05:31 am (UTC)|| |
I liked the ambiguity over whether or not time was deterministic. I feel like the story (which I admittedly haven't read in years) doesn't as much take a position that time is actually deterministic as it does that understanding time in the heptapod manner leads to a deterministic interpretation of time, that determinism is part of the limitation of the heptapod cognitive framework.
I'm not sure how I feel about adding the stable time loop twist to the story. It was definitely fun, but that and replacing Hannah's accidental death with an incurable genetic illness seemed like the two big changes from the mood of the original story. I can see how the illness was much easier to convey than the idea of Hannah being an avid pursuer of risk who dies doing what she loves, and that therefore preventing Hannah's death would involve Hannah not being Hannah, in a similar though less extreme way to preventing Hannah's death from illness would require her to not exist, but it still bugged me.
|Date:||November 22nd, 2016 05:42 am (UTC)|| |
The change with Hannah fits with the ambiguous determinism, since asking someone to not do X on a particular day is vastly different from deciding they shouldn't exist in the first place. Hannah dying by accident as something that's both part of who she is and also unchangeable only works (for me at least) in absolute determinism. So, for me, that change worked well for what they were doing. OTOH, the time loop was odd - it worked, but it also wasn't at all what I was expecting.
|Date:||November 22nd, 2016 05:55 am (UTC)|| |
I kind of liked the time loop because it provided a nice unexpected twist for people who had read the story. After we saw the movie, Ben and Barry and Alexis were talking about the unexpected twist, and it took me a while to realize they meant the point where it is revealed that Hannah is in Louise's future, not her past, rather than the point where Louise is suddenly able/required to use her future knowledge to influence current events.
|Date:||November 22nd, 2016 05:33 am (UTC)|| |
I really liked the use of close focus on a character in the corner of the screen, with most of the screen out of focus, as a way of conveying/inflincting the sense of disjunct of encountering the alien space ship.