Arrived at your (Thanksgiving) destination yet? I hope all went well. Now, here’s some exciting news… This year’s Thanksgiving episode of Screen Junkies is another Movie Science special! This means, as usual, that I sat down with presenter Hal Rudnick to talk about some science ideas and portrayal of scientists in the movies.
This time, the film is Arrival. We actually had a great in-depth conversation, and a lot (not all) of it made it to the episode, so have a look. (Most of the episode assumes that you have seen the film since there are a lot of serious spoilers that will take away from the movies intended unfolding as you view… There are mild spoilers in the form of general discussion about the film to start, and then Hal stops and warns you that we’re going deeper into the details.)
The embed is below, and then after that I say a few spoiler-y things to end this post:
Some things we discussed that did not make it to the episode include:
(1) We’re much nicer to Jeremy Renner than the cut suggests…! We’re mostly making fun of his more famous characters, not the actor himself!
(2) I go into more detail as to why I think the physicist character is not so good as a contemporary physicist. He should *not* be surprised by the fact that the linguist’s methods are mathematical. Mathematics is the science of patterns, after all, and a large chunk of linguistics’s starting point is about encoding meaning, patterns, and so forth. Why is he so shocked by this?
(3) In addition to the poor choice of downplaying the physical sciences and mathematics in order to play up the linguistics (rather than show that they are *both* key in such a situation), the film starts earlier on with completely unrealistic argument started by the physicist about which field is more important to a civilisation… Only fictional physicists from the mid 20th century can get away which such shocking ignorance of how other fields work and their place in the world. Happily most contemporary physicists I know (or care to spend time with) do *not* go around thinking that physics is the most important thing.
(4) Am I the only one to notice that the aliens (in shape) are kind of a tribute to the Simpsons aliens?!
(5) Yes, I gave Hal a hard time about not having his jacket this time.