Seeing a movie at the theater is always a special experience. I still remember seeing Jurassic Park with my parents. And how can I forget the time Gore Verbinski’s The Ring scared me half to death?
But there’s also something special about seeing a movie in the comfort of your own home. While it’s not as immersive as say, the combination of Dolby Atmos and Vision, home releases are great because they provide viewers with a greater understanding of how a film is made.
In the case of Arrival, the critically acclaimed science fiction film direct by Denis Villeneuve, the bonus content is just as good as the movie itself. The quiet, thoughtful nature of Arrival perfectly lends itself to a more intimate home environment, where you’re free from the distractions of noisy seat neighbors.
Based on Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life, Arrival focuses on Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist professor who is tasked with interpreting the language of Earth’s alien visitors. What initially appears to be a typical science fiction movie is a more philosophical, emotional exploration of human nature and the importance of communication, something the actors and filmmakers expand upon in one particularly riveting extra.
In Xenolinguistics: Understanding Arrival, the cast and crew discuss how important the use of language is for communication, even if, in the case of Arrival, we don’t initially understand what an alien language means. Actress Amy Adams said she spoke to Jessica Coon, the movie’s linguist consultant, to learn about the anthropological significance of language and culture, and how people speak to one another.
One of the things the movie really digs into is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which is of two minds. One says the hypothesis explores how language determines thought, and the other says language influences decisions. Arrival explores how Louise (Amy Adams) alters her understanding by learning the aliens’ language.
How accurate this portrayal is of linguistics is a point of contention. But it beautifully explores the possibilities of language and how it affects a person’s thoughts and decisions. Slate has a really fascinating interview with a linguist about what she thought of the movie’s use of language—something that’s covered extensively in the movie’s extra features.
“To create the language I had a couple of people, graphic designers and linguists, try to come up with the language we would use,” said Patrice Vermette, production designer. “I was not really satisfied with anything because it always related to something that we know.”
Along with creating aliens that look unlike anything we’ve ever seen on film, the filmmakers also wanted to create something completely unfamiliar when it came to the language. The crew went so in-depth into the made-up language that an entire dictionary was created for reference.
The home release also includes Acoustic Signatures: The Sound Design, Eternal Recurrence: The Score, Nonlinear Thinking: The Editorial Process, and Principles of Time, Memory & Language. Not exactly material to watch on a first date, but fascinating nonetheless.
In addition to being a provocative and moving film, Arrival is deeply technical, which is reflected by the home release’s bonus content. If you want a better understanding of the themes and science behind Arrival, the hour plus of extra footage is well worth your time.
Arrival is available now on digital HD and Blu-ray.
Arrival Blu-ray Combo Pack
The Arrival Blu-ray is presented in 1080p high definition with English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles. The combo pack includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film as well as the following:
Feature film in high definition
Xenolinguistics: Understanding Arrival
Acoustic Signatures: The Sound Design
Eternal Recurrence: The Score
Nonlinear Thinking: The Editorial Process
Principles of Time, Memory & Language