Arrival Story / Synopsis + Complete Story - Sci-Fi 2016

Did you know that language can shape the way we think and perceive the world around us?

It's a mind-boggling concept, and one that lies at the heart of the mesmerizing sci-fi film, Arrival. This thought-provoking masterpiece takes us on a journey where communication becomes the ultimate key to unlocking the mysteries of an extraterrestrial arrival.

As we delve into the depths of this captivating story, we are confronted with profound questions about time, perception, and the very essence of our humanity.

So, fasten your seatbelts and prepare to be transported into a world where language holds the power to change everything.


In the aftermath of a heart-wrenching loss, linguist Louise Banks finds herself facing a profound and mysterious turning point. Earth is thrown into chaos as twelve colossal spacecraft materialize at disparate locations across the globe, sparking a frenzy of global concern and collaboration.

Governments scramble to understand the intentions of these enigmatic visitors.

In a bid to decipher the intentions of these otherworldly beings, Louise is recruited alongside physicist Ian Donnelly. Together, they venture into one of the awe-inspiring spacecraft, encountering mesmerizing heptapod creatures they dub Abbott and Costello.

The aliens communicate through an intricate circular language, triggering an electrifying revelation: their unique language alters the very fabric of time.

As Louise unravels the linguistic enigma, she experiences haunting flashes of her own past, leading her to realize that time itself is far more fluid and interconnected than she ever imagined. When the aliens seemingly convey a message of "offering a weapon," humanity teeters on the brink of global catastrophe as misunderstandings escalate tensions.

But Louise's keen insight propels her to uncover a deeper truth. She navigates a perilous path, striving to bridge the communication gap and convince a world on the verge of chaos that the aliens' intentions are profoundly benevolent.

With stakes at their zenith, Louise races against the clock to unravel the true essence of the extraterrestrial language.

In a climactic crescendo, Louise confronts a shattering revelation: the aliens' "weapon" is not one of destruction, but a tool that unlocks the boundless vistas of time. Humanity stands at the threshold of an epochal transformation, as the power of the language bestows the ability to glimpse future moments, granting a fleeting but poignant glimpse into what lies ahead.

As the world teeters on the edge of irrevocable decisions, Louise's journey unfolds into a tapestry of unity, sacrifice, and a race against time itself. Amidst the chaos and uncertainty, a new dawn of understanding emerges, illuminating the profound connection between all beings and the woven strands of destiny that entwine them.

'Arrival' is a mesmerizing odyssey of discovery, love, and the unbreakable bonds that transcend time. Prepare to be spellbound by a story that defies the confines of reality, inviting you to contemplate the mysteries of existence and the profound power of language to shape our shared destiny.

List of Chapters:

  1. The Premise of "Arrival"
  2. Main Characters in "Arrival"
  3. Approaches to Communication with Extraterrestrial Beings
  4. The Significance of the Aliens' Arrival
  5. Louise Banks' Journey to Decipher the Alien Language
  6. Challenges Faced by Louise Banks
  7. Global Reaction to the Alien Arrival
  8. The Role of the Military in the Storyline
  9. Exploration of Time and Perception
  10. Themes Explored in "Arrival"

The Premise of "Arrival"

The movie "Arrival" (2016) revolves around a linguist named Louise Banks who is enlisted by the United States Army to communicate with extraterrestrial beings that have arrived on Earth. The film explores the challenges and implications of language and communication in the face of an alien encounter.

Louise teams up with physicist Ian Donnelly to decipher the language of the alien creatures, known as "Heptapods," and understand their true intentions.

As they delve deeper into the language, Louise begins to experience time in a nonlinear manner, blurring the boundaries between past, present, and future.

The movie delves into themes of grief, loss, and the power of human connection.

"Arrival" received critical acclaim for its thought-provoking storyline, Amy Adams' performance, and its exploration of communication with extraterrestrial intelligence.

Main Characters in "Arrival"

The main characters in the movie "Arrival" (2016) include:

  • Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams
  • Ian Donnelly, played by Jeremy Renner
  • Colonel Weber, played by Forest Whitaker
  • Agent Halpern, played by Michael Stuhlbarg
  • Captain Marks, played by Mark O'Brien

These are the key characters in the film who play important roles in the story.

Approaches to Communication with Extraterrestrial Beings

The movie "Arrival" explores the concept of communication with extraterrestrial beings in various ways. Here are some of the ways the movie approaches this topic:


The protagonist of the movie, Louise Banks, is a linguist who is tasked with deciphering an alien language after mysterious UFOs land in different parts of the world. The movie portrays her efforts to learn the language and communicate with the aliens, which involves studying the written and spoken language of the aliens.

Visual Elements

The movie embraces minimalism in its visual elements, with a dark and earth-toned palette and natural materials for the spaceships. The alien language symbols are circles of randomly splattered ink, but every inky tendril is intentional.


The movie has been praised for its realistic portrayal of how a linguist might try to communicate with aliens. The filmmakers consulted with real-life experts to ensure that the linguistic elements of the story were as accurate as possible.

However, the movie also takes some creative liberties, such as the idea that learning an alien language could change one's perception of time.


The movie explores themes related to communication, such as the importance of respectful conversation and the ways in which language can divide us. It also touches on themes related to time, memory, and perception.

Overall, "Arrival" offers a thought-provoking exploration of the challenges and possibilities of communicating with extraterrestrial beings.

The Significance of the Aliens' Arrival

The movie Arrival (2016) is a science-fiction drama that tells the story of a linguist named Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams, who is recruited by the US military to help communicate with aliens who have arrived on Earth in massive stone spaceships at various locations around the globe.

The significance of the aliens' arrival on Earth is multifaceted and includes the following:

Diplomacy and Cooperation

doctor Banks eventually realizes that the aliens view diplomacy as a "non-zero-sum game," like liberalism, which argues that cooperation among nations leads to mutual benefits. The film invests in the faith that cooperation among nations beyond borders can lead to global benefits.

Immigration and Social Constructivism

The film's political themes were intended to be more timeless, and it embodies constructivism, the view that differences result from such socially constructed norms as language. The aliens' arrival can be seen as a metaphor for immigration, and the film reflects the immigration issue.

Future Crisis

According to the aliens, in 3,000 years, they will need humans' help with some unspecified crisis, which is why they visited Earth in the first place.

Time and Language

The story explores the nature of time as a circle, and circles appear in many places throughout the film. The aliens' written language is based on circles, and Louise learns the aliens' language, which allows her to see the future.

The movie's tone, pacing, and cinematography are frequently subdued, and at times even somber, but it conveys both the terror and the unblinking fascination that would likely overwhelm the first humans to make contact with an alien race.

The film's message is about the importance of communication and cooperation, and it explores the human experience in a way that is unexpected and thought-provoking.

Louise Banks' Journey to Decipher the Alien Language

Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams, is a linguist enlisted by the United States Army to discover how to communicate with extraterrestrials who have arrived on Earth. Banks and physicist Ian Donnelly research the complex written language of the aliens, consisting of palindromic phrases written with circular symbols, and share the results with other nations.

Banks slowly introduces words to the aliens, called "heptapods," first starting with nouns, then introducing verbs and eventually more complex sentence structures.

As Banks studies the language, she starts to have flashback-like visions of her daughter, which are later revealed to be a result of the heptapods' non-linear perception of time.

Banks ultimately discovers that the heptapods' language is not linear like human language, but rather a system that allows them to experience time in a non-linear way.

Her understanding of the heptapods' language is crucial to preventing a global war and saving humanity.

Challenges Faced by Louise Banks

Louise Banks, a linguistic expert, faces several challenges while trying to decipher the alien language in the Arrival. These challenges include:

Linguistic Complexity

The alien language is incredibly complex, with no apparent grammar or syntax. Louise must work to understand the language and its structure.

Cultural Differences

The aliens have a completely different culture and way of thinking than humans, which makes it difficult for Louise to understand their language and communicate with them effectively.

Time Pressure

The military is anxious to understand the aliens' intentions and whether they pose a threat to humanity. This puts pressure on Louise to decipher the language quickly.

Personal Trauma

Louise is dealing with personal trauma related to the loss of her daughter, which affects her ability to focus and communicate effectively.

Despite these challenges, Louise perseveres and ultimately gains a deep understanding of the alien language, which allows her to communicate with the aliens and prevent a global conflict.

Global Reaction to the Alien Arrival

The movie "Arrival" depicts the global reaction to the alien arrival in several ways:

Political Commentary

The film explores political themes, particularly the issue of immigration. It reflects the idea that cooperation among nations can lead to global benefits and emphasizes the importance of diplomacy and cooperation.

Scientific Discovery

"Arrival" portrays the human reaction to the aliens as similar to how humanity reacts to other scientific discoveries. The heptapods, representing science, elicit curiosity and intrigue from humans.

Widespread Reaction

The appearance of twelve alien vessels at different points on the globe triggers a widespread reaction among people. The movie shows the global impact and the various ways different countries and individuals respond to the alien arrival.

Language and Perception

The film explores the linguistic theory that language shapes our perception of the world. The protagonist, Louise Banks, experiences a shift in her perception of time as she learns the aliens' circular written language, highlighting the intimate relationship between language and perception.

Individual Interactions

Despite being a global event, the movie focuses primarily on the interactions between one person, Louise Banks, and the aliens. It delves into her personal journey and the impact the alien arrival has on her.

Overall, "Arrival" presents a nuanced and thought-provoking portrayal of the global reaction to the alien arrival, touching on political, scientific, linguistic, and individual perspectives.

The Role of the Military in the Storyline

In the movie Arrival, the military plays a significant role in the storyline. The main character, Louise Banks, is a linguist enlisted by the United States Army to communicate with extraterrestrial life forms that have arrived on Earth.

The military is responsible for coordinating the global response to the alien arrival, and tensions rise as different countries interpret the aliens' message in different ways.

The Chinese military, in particular, threatens to initiate a strike against the aliens, which could lead to war.

Louise works closely with a military team led by Colonel Weber to decipher the aliens' language and prevent a global conflict.

Ultimately, the military stands down, and the aliens depart peacefully, leaving behind a message of hope for humanity.

Exploration of Time and Perception

The movie "Arrival" incorporates elements of time and perception in several ways. Here are some of the ways the movie explores these themes:

Alien Language

The alien language rewires the brain so that it perceives all of time happening at once. This means that the protagonist, a linguist named Louise Banks, is able to experience events out of order and see into the future.

The movie suggests that language can fundamentally alter our perception of time.

Non-Linear Narrative

The movie uses a non-linear narrative structure and the "flash-forward" technique to explore the theme of time. This means that events are not presented in chronological order, but rather in a way that emphasizes the characters' perceptions of time.

Linguistic Relativity

The movie takes up the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, a theory of linguistic relativity that argues that language affects thought. The idea is that different languages can shape our perception of the world in different ways.

In the case of "Arrival," the alien language allows Louise to perceive time differently.

Existential Conflict

The movie explores the existential conflict of linguistic relativity. This means that the characters are forced to confront the idea that their understanding of the world may not be as concrete and absolute as they thought.

Scientific Determinism

The movie uses the theme of time to explore scientific determinism. This means that the characters are grappling with the idea that their actions may be predetermined by the laws of physics.

Overall, "Arrival" suggests that our perception of time is not as concrete as we might think. The movie uses the alien language as a metaphor for how language can shape our understanding of the world.

By exploring these themes, the movie invites us to question our assumptions about time and the nature of reality.

Themes Explored in "Arrival"

The movie "Arrival" explores several themes, including:


The movie emphasizes the importance of communication and language in bridging gaps between different cultures and nations. The film suggests that our interpretation of what is said to us can determine our response, and when we don't fully understand, we often retaliate with force as we attempt to stop any impending violence with violence.


The movie suggests that division hinders progress, while unity is the path towards it. The disconnection between nations is presented as the main conflict of the movie, as it is not until they come together that they can solve the problem at hand.


Suffering is a major theme in the movie, as Louise gains the ability to perceive the future through learning the heptapods' language, and by so doing learns of her and Ian's daughter dying at a young age.

This is something she can change once she knows it by not marrying Ian or not having a baby, but she chooses to do so knowing the consequences.


The movie explores the concept of time and how it can be perceived differently by different individuals. The film suggests that time is not linear, and that the past, present, and future can all exist simultaneously.


The theme of motherhood is also explored in the movie, as Louise's backstory surrounds the death of her daughter from a rare disease, and a marriage that fell apart from the resulting strain. The movie suggests that love, both romantic and maternal, can be a powerful force.

Overall, the ultimate message or theme conveyed in the Arrival is that communication, unity, and compassion are essential in bridging gaps between different cultures and nations, and that love can be a powerful force that can help us overcome suffering and adversity.

Discussion topics

  • 1) What is the central story of "Arrival" and what are its main themes or ideas?
  • 2) How does the concept of language and communication play a significant role in the story? What does it suggest about the power of language?
  • 3) In what ways does the film explore the concept of time and its effect on our perception of reality? How does this relate to your own experiences with time?
  • 4) How does the setting of the film, particularly the isolated location of the alien spacecraft, contribute to the overall atmosphere and tension of the story?
  • 5) How does "Arrival" compare to other science fiction films in terms of its approach to extraterrestrial life and the portrayal of human-alien interactions?
  • 6) What ethical dilemmas are presented in the film, particularly in relation to the decisions made by the characters? How do these dilemmas resonate with your own moral values?
  • 7) How does the film challenge traditional notions of communication and understanding? In what ways does it prompt us to reconsider our own assumptions about language and perception?
  • 8) What do you think the film is trying to convey about the importance of empathy and understanding in a world that is often divided by language and cultural barriers?
  • 9) How does "Arrival" explore the concept of memory and its impact on our identity? How does this relate to your own understanding of memory and personal experiences?
  • 10) In what ways does the film comment on the nature of humanity and our ability to come together in times of crisis? How does this resonate with current events or global issues?
  • 11) How does the nonlinear narrative structure of the film enhance or detract from the overall storytelling? What effect does it have on your interpretation of the events?
  • 12) What do you think the film suggests about the limitations of human perception and understanding? How does this challenge your own beliefs or perspectives?
  • 13) How does the film address the theme of sacrifice and the lengths we are willing to go for the greater good? Do you agree with the choices made by the characters in the story?
  • 14) How does "Arrival" challenge traditional genre conventions and expectations? In what ways does it subvert or redefine the science fiction genre?
  • 15) What do you think the film is trying to say about the power of language and communication in bridging cultural divides and fostering global cooperation?
  • Concluding thoughts

    So there I was, sitting in the darkened theater, completely engrossed in the mind-bending world of Arrival. This sci-fi masterpiece had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, and now that the credits were rolling, I couldn't help but feel a whirlwind of thoughts swirling in my head.

    The story of Arrival is unlike anything I've ever encountered. It's not your typical alien invasion flick where spaceships come crashing down and chaos ensues. No, this film takes a different approach, delving deep into the complexities of language, time, and the very essence of what it means to be human.

    Amy Adams delivers a stunning performance as Dr. Louise Banks, a linguistics expert tasked with deciphering the language of the mysterious extraterrestrial visitors. As she delves deeper into their intricate communication system, she begins to unravel the concept of time itself. The film weaves together past, present, and future in a way that leaves you questioning the very nature of our existence.

    But what struck me the most about Arrival was its exploration of the power of language. In a world where communication is often taken for granted, this film reminds us of the immense impact our words can have. It challenges us to consider how our understanding of language shapes our perception of reality and our ability to connect with others.

    As the credits rolled, I couldn't help but wonder about the implications of this film. Are we truly alone in the universe? And if we were faced with the arrival of extraterrestrial beings, how would we communicate with them? Would we be able to set aside our differences and find a common language? Or would fear and misunderstanding prevail?

    Arrival leaves us with more questions than answers, and that's what makes it so thought-provoking. It challenges us to look beyond the surface and contemplate the mysteries of the universe. It reminds us that sometimes, the most profound discoveries lie not in the answers we find, but in the questions we ask.

    So, as I left the theater that day, my mind buzzing with thoughts, I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe and wonder. Arrival had taken me on a journey that was both confusing and exhilarating, leaving me with a newfound appreciation for the power of language and the vastness of the unknown. And isn't that what great movies are all about?

    Arrival Trailer (2016)

    Tip: Turn on the caption button if you need it. Choose 'automatic translation' in the settings button if you are not familiar with the english language. You may need to click on the language of the video first before your favorite language becomes available for translation.

    Links and references

    1. Some things I've noticed about 'Arrival'
    2. Arrival: From Book to Screen

    Arrival explained / Understanding the ending and story - Sci-Fi 2016

    Arrival / Alternative ending - Sci-Fi 2016

    This Mind-Bending Sci-Fi Will Make You Question Everything - Sci-Fi 2016

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