‘Arrival’ Trailer Shines a Spotlight on Translation

Aliens have descended on Earth. Their massive ships hover above our cities, seemingly poised to strike. Do they come in peace, or are they here to annihilate us? As the fate of our world hangs in the balance, it all comes down to one fearless hero…a translator. Wait, what?

Such is the premise of Arrival, the upcoming movie starring Amy Adams (American Hustle, Enchanted), Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, The Hurt Locker), and Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, The Butler). The trailer for the film just debuted yesterday and has already been viewed 2.6 million times.

 

 

In the film, Adams stars as Louise Banks, an expert linguist (“You’re at the top of everybody’s list when it comes to translations,” the voiceover intones) brought in by the military to communicate with the aliens that have landed on our planet. The aliens obviously don’t speak English (or any other earthly language for that matter), so it’s up to Banks to figure out how to speak with them — and possibly avoid a global war.

Here at Lingualinx, we do like to think that the world depends on translation. But Arrival puts translation at the forefront in a way that few (if any) blockbusters ever have. The race against time doesn’t involve diffusing bombs or figuring out how to disable the spaceships’ shields. The tension stems from trying to understand the aliens’ writing system, or trying to communicate the difference between a weapon and a tool.

Arrival won’t open until November, but if the trailer is any indication, the movie should paint translators as the heroes we always knew they were.

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