The Place of Real Arrival

Good science-fiction consists of more than just alien invasions, body-snatchers, and “Take me to your leader.” Done well, sci-fi tells us deep truths about ourselves and our world. The Oscar-nominated film Arrival most definitely falls into this type of good sci-fi because of the way it takes the viewer deeper into the emotions of human experience. As film critic Anthony Lane wrote in The New Yorker, “What lingers, days after you leave the cinema, is neither the wizardry nor the climax but the zephyr of emotional intensity that blows through the film.”

Director Denis Villeneuve is the wizard behind the wizardry of Arrival, while Amy Adams plays the main character: a respected linguist named Dr. Louise Banks. The United States Army seeks out Dr. Banks and her top-notch translation skills so she can help them decipher what a group of mysterious, newly arrived aliens want with the human race.

Arrival doesn’t begin with the aliens, however. The opening sequence of the film shows us intensely emotional scenes from the life of one person, beginning to end. In a matter of minutes, we feel boundless joy, soul-twisting loss, and the agony of sorrow. Villeneuve masterfully crafts this sequence, helping us see and feel the fleeting nature of time from a distance, and all at once. We are voyeurs on the outside of time, looking in.

This isn’t how we normally experience time, of course. We live in time. It’s something happening to us in a specific moment, like a dot on a timeline. In the first few minutes of the film, we are seeing one person’s timeline all at once, which highlights the brevity of life and causes us to feel as Solomon did, that life is a vapor and a vanity.

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“I Done It Already”: Why ‘The Revenant’ Doesn’t Fear Death

The fear of death grips us all. It can feel like a large gaping hole in our field of knowledge and experience. We are born with the instinct to self-preserve, and fear can be one of our biggest motivators. In the award-winning film The Revenant, the fear of death is a central theme, especially as displayed through the antagonist, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), whose methods and motives of self-preservation contrast those of the protagonist Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio).What is the biggest indicator of fear in Fitzgerald’s life? It’s his hoarding.The word “revenant” originates from the French verb revenir, which means “to come back” or “to return.”

Leonardo DiCaprio is a haunting apparition in his Oscar-winning role as Hugh Glass. He primarily haunts Fitzgerald, but in a way he also haunts all of us. Glass is living proof of a battle with death. He fights death in the form of a bear and continues the battle for life as he seeks revenge for the death of his son. Glass haunts us all because he has faced one of the biggest fears of mankind—death. Yet by the end of the film, Glass is able to say, “I ain’t afraid to die anymore. I done it already.”

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