Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Time travel


Amy Adams plays Louise in “Arrival,” the movie I saw tonight. Alien airships appear at 12 locations on earth causing chaos the world over. The movie veers further into scientific fantasy with a plot in which Time deviates from a linear progression. If we’re given a story in which Time is not linear, the question becomes, “then what is it?” Is it swerving? Intermittent? In this movie, there’s no telling what progression Time takes.

If, according to “Arrival,” Time is not linear, the concept of yesterday, today, and tomorrow changes, though Louise is transported to scenes in her life that can be identified as taking place in the “past” (with respect to what is presented as “present”). This rattling around in time has no rhyme or reason, except as it satisfies the needs of the movie’s plot.
This Seth Thomas clock is on my mantel.
There are calculated revelations which save Louise’s life and the world from war. These revelations are timed at moments that are strategic to the plot but are obscure with respect to their origin in Time. Louise discovers a universal language at a critical moment, but why at that particular time? In like manner, she is acquainted with a Chinese diplomat, a relationship she uses to save the world from war. This information is interjected at a timely moment in the movie, but where in the sequence of Time did this become a fact? More fundamentally, if Time is not linear in “Arrival,” what does Louise know at any given moment in the movie?

If Time deviates from linear, what will happen to plot elements such as cause and effect? How will we develop motivation? The spaceship in “Arrival” isn’t as hard to believe as the movie’s portrayal of Time.

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