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A meta-argument that Arrival is actually about other, worse movies

Photo: Paramount

For some—like us or, say, the Academy Awards—Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi mind-bender Arrival was one of the best films of 2016. For others, it was two hours of waiting for the aliens to please do something. Regardless, it’s bound to be the subject of many, many college theses. The latest to chime in with their take on the movie is The Nerdwriter, who sees in Villeneuve’s craft more than a mere film. Rather, as The Nerdwriter so eloquently lays out, Arrival is as much about the language of film as it is human communication.

“He has a firm grasp on craft,” The Nerdwriter says of Villeneuve. “I can’t really tell you how soothing this is for me as a filmgoer, to feel that I’m in the hands of someone who knows why the film is constructed the way it is.”


By juxtaposing various scenes and interweaving film theory and quotes from filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock and Andrei Tarkovsky, The Nerdwriter makes a case for why Arrival’s cinematic construction resounds as “an active exploration into what makes a movie great.” In this sense, it’s “a response to bad movies,” as “everything they do wrong, Arrival does right.”

It’s heady stuff, but should be helpful for anyone who can’t quite discern the film’s appeal. And hey, if you still don’t get it, there’s always Independence Day.

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