“I used to think this was the beginning of your story…. We’re so bound by time”, Dr. Louise Banks said within the first 30 seconds of the film. Little did I know upon my first viewing that this was the true theme of the whole movie.
Arrival to its core is about the power of language, and how much language shapes who we are, what we think, how we see the world around us, etc. When the alien race comes to earth Dr. Banks is tasked with discovering their language and how to communicate with them to understand why they’re here. As she learns more she discovers that they don’t think like we think, or communicate like we communicate. She discovers the aliens are not bound by time as the humans are, and encourages Dr. Banks to use “the weapon”.