Linguist Louise Banks (Adams) is grieving for the death of her teenage daughter from cancer when twelve alien Spaceships appear at twelve locations around present-day planet Earth, engendering globalized military Paranoia. US Army Colonel G T Weber (Whitaker) partners Banks with theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Renner) in a bid to establish First Contact with the “heptapods”, who are large, cephalopod-like creatures with seven limbs organized in a circle around a barrel-shaped corpus – a form-factor that influences not only how the creatures move and communicate but also the way in which they use an inverted system of Mathematics to describe the same physical laws of the universe. Two heptapods dubbed “Abbott and Costello” by Banks and Donnelly converse with their military reception party at the Montana landing site by squirting circular Rorschach-reminiscent blots of black ink onto the clear window that separates them and their breathable atmosphere from that of their human interlocutors. Banks’ comprehension of the heptapods’ semasiographic writing system (its ideograms are based on meaning, not sound) and the heptapods’ corresponding insight into human Psychology and Biology is the hinge on which the plot of Arrival swings:-




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