To be released on DVD in North America on February 14, 2017. The DVD release of Arrival (2016) is a week and-a-half before the Academy Award ceremony this year. The film is up for eight nominations.

My preview of Arrival when it was released in the fall focused on the possible theme of inter-cultural relations.  In movies, ‘aliens’ are often code for people who come from a country other than the one they are moving to.  Movies like Brooklyn and Independence Day.

Drama film Brooklyn (2015) is realistic. A person from overseas comes to another country. The person wants to make a go of life in the adopted country. This is a good thing.

Science fiction action film Independence Day (1996) has literal aliens coming from another planet. I did not see these aliens as literal aliens alone, though. The aliens may stand for people up to no good in countries other than their own.

In movies, the so-called ‘alien’ can be up to good, or up to no good, depending on what movie you’re watching. Arrival breathes fresh life into this theme.

However, the metaphors in alien movies may transcend the inter-cultural. For example, E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982) is about a stranded alien needing to get home.

Inter-cultural in Arrival

In Arrival, literal aliens are barely trusted. They arrive in twelve shells across the globe. These alien outsiders may stand for others from foreign countries.

Louise (Amy Adams) is optimistic. She is linguist and interpreter of the alien communications and will send her findings through the military to the government. The government is desperate to find out why the aliens are here and if they pose a security threat.

Almost everyone’s panicking. As well as the public losing the plot, politicians in Russia, Sudan and China worry about an invasion of war. They will strike back if absolutely necessary.

Seems the filmmaker knows that the audience will fear aliens (literally as well as figuratively). They have been put through years and years of alien invasion movies. But the aliens are less threatening than anticipated. Arrival is different. It’s actually fair.

As everything comes out in the wash, Arrival affirms the contribution of the ‘alien’ and of human life itself. It does so with a deft style that breathes life into the theme. It says we don’t have to fear ‘aliens’ if they contribute life or affirm life in the societies they want to come. That sounds like common sense.

That’s what I think Arrival is saying inter-culturally—at a time when migration is the hot topic. Arrival even goes further. The survival of the human race is at stake in how different cultures relate.

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