Performance In Arrival By Denis Villeneuve

Pages: 4 (831 words) Published: February 25, 2018


Performance is an essential part of defining a narrative. A narrative rides on an excellent performance in order for its meaning to be conveyed. . In order to assess performance pertaining to the character, one must analyse the conflict that affects the character.
Performance, according to Oxford Dictionary, is defined as “an act of presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment” (Oxford Dictionary, 2018). Performance, however, has many elements to it. Its dictionary definition is merely a summary. Performance contains four key elements: the actor/character, the audience, the space in which the performance occurs and the narrative. A performance can be considered to be occurring when all four of these elements are present. A character...

This is the defining problem that created the narrative, and thus is the moment that will change the protagonist for the better or worse. To illustrate this, I will use the film Arrival by Denis Villeneuve. The production is about a linguistics professor, Louise Banks, who is asked to translate a message from mystifying extra-terrestrials. They (sic) have entered the atmosphere but haven’t touched the ground, their intentions with the planet. It is now up to her and a team to decode the ET’s message—all the while humanity threatens to destroy itself amidst conflict on how to deal with the situation. The climactic moment occurs when the heptapods, Abbotts and Costello, manage to understand the original message, which was “What is the purpose of your visit?”. When they finally do, the aliens respond with “Use weapon.” This causes uproar all over the world as armies threaten to destroy the foreign airships. Banks understands that ‘weapons’ could easily be misconstrued as ‘tool’, and so, becomes the sole advocate to keep speaking to the aliens. The main conflict occurs when each of the world allies begin cutting off communication, and Banks has to single-handedly prevent a war by finding out what the tool is. What makes this part interesting is how the performance is important for how the message is...

She makes it there, and something is explained that the audience doesn’t hear. She gets thrown out of the ship as a bomb explodes, yet we see her struggling back towards the base. She then places a call to China, and says one simple sentence. The chaos stops, the meaning lost to those of the audience that do not speak Chinese. We then witness a jump in time into the future, where we see Louise Banks at a fancy banquet which looks like it has been thrown in her honour. There we learn that the ‘weapon’ that the aliens intended for us to use was language, “the cornerstone of civilization.” (Lincoln, 2016) The performance was crucial because the narrative was wholly dependent on the fact that the audience would be oblivious to the contents of the phone call. The mystery and the language barrier that was breached between China and the US really pinned communication as one of the key elements of the story. The use of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is evident, though exaggerated, throughout the...
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