Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Arrival’ (2016)

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

What does a host say to the newly arrived? Especially when they’re aliens?

That’s the key question posed in Arrival: What’s your business here, given that 12 of your ships that look like squished Bosu balls standing upright have plopped down all over our planet.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on the Ted Chiang short story “Story of Your Life,” the movie brings forward a expert to solve the puzzle. Our government’s hope – as is that of other global leaders – is to construct the visitors’ language, communicate with them and discover their purpose.

The head of the investigative team (Forest Whitaker) hires linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams), thereby setting up the film’s central archetype of Communicator, tied to Mercury, the winged god who serves the gods’ bidding, navigating between Olympus and the Underworld. But are we the semi-good-guys from Olympus or the galaxy’s demons?

What we initially learn about Louise is her affirmation that we’re all bound by time and its order, a Saturnian principle, with very little give and take.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

But she’s also uncertain about the concept of beginnings and endings, a belief system that’s sure to be challenged when she’s transported  to Montana, the U.S. site of the landing, where she’ll be working with Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a physicist and hardcore scientist.

The duo and the rest of the U.S. team enter the ship through a portal and traverse a long passageway. In the words of Henry Miller, describing a walk along the streets of the Greek island of Poros, the trek is a bit like passing through the neck of the womb and, archetypally, evokes Mercurial flight from one cosmos to another.

Mercury also rules the hands, jointly used by Louise and the heptapod creatures that plonk their digits onto separating glass and gush forth smoky circular missives. Welcome to the non-linear world, in which script has no start or end points.

If, as one character says, the language you speak determines how you think, then Arrival is a consummate parable about how humans have the potential and gift to change their minds about life, death, and everything in between, including the parallel existence of those geographies that Mercury effortless navigates.

Archetype: Communicator. Linguist. Translator.

Astrology Archetype: ☿ (Mercury)


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