Arrival is a great movie. Great themes, music and acting, and deeply moving. I think it is of the caliber of Interstellar. And like that movie it seeks to make meaning using science fiction, and in that effort it intuitively creates allegories of heaven and God from the Bible. This is very common in deeply creative works – in seeking meaning one intuitively creates allegories of themes in the Bible, for the Bible is the source of all truth and the means of distributing truth to Man.
The scene near the end where Louise rises in the black-shale colored pod and enters the alien atmosphere without any suit evokes a very heavenly feeling. She is weightless and every detail of her hair and face is sharp and flowing. There is primal wonder and alertness on her face that has been reduced to utter nakedness from the presence of pure white light in that place. Her face is blanched white and child-like from the higher light and presence, yet she slowly regains her composure, and her mature intelligence is there. All this is consistent with the nature of heaven in that in heaven our senses and abilities become many times more acute, and we have to acclimate to the Higher light.
When she entered the native atmosphere of the aliens, it also took her a moment to be able to breath in the atmosphere, which is true of every society of heaven. In each society of heaven the atmosphere is composed of its quality of love and use, and one must be in harmony with those qualities to be there. Of course it could be that they were representing the different natural atmospherics of that place, but it still works as an allegory of heaven in that it was a very spiritual experience. Louise speaks with the enormous aliens not fully understanding what they want of her and of humanity but yearning to understand more, which she will in time. She asks the alien how it knows the future and the alien tells her that ‘you too know the future’, and it is later revealed that she does understand the past and future as the story all comes together.
Arrival demonstrates allegories of heaven and spiritual/religious themes in several ways. I will use the movie as a spring-board to elucidate some of these themes and how they relate to spiritual principle. Louise in the end understands the past and future, and the meaning and purpose of her life. This makes her like a prophet particularly in that her actions are critical in working with the aliens to save both the aliens and earth. For they tell her that they will need the people of earth 3000 years in the future. The goal of the aliens, which Louise is instrumental in helping them to accomplish, is to bring cooperation and greater peace among the peoples of earth. It is a universal principle of life that no-one is allowed to see the future for that would compromise freedom. We can sometimes see in hindsight the providence of God but in the moment we must be free to choose from ourself, for this is what allows our soul to transform in the process of regeneration. Even with Louise she only understands the future in the moment she needs to act and it takes great discernment on her part. That she is given this gift (which comes from God) is in line with the use of a Biblical prophet.
The circumstance I just described tells us something profound about the nature of God and the prophets. Part of God’s infinite wisdom and omnipresence is that he is present to the past, the future and the moment at the same time in the spiritual world. The wisdom of the aliens represents this as they have great sight into the future as demonstrated by their awareness that 3000 years in the future they will need humanity to save them. The capabilities of the Aliens is similar to the abilities of the ‘bulk beings’ in Interstellar. They have the ability to know the future and wisdom to guide earth to a safe future, but they need humanity to work with them; humans are essential to them to accomplish the good (salvation) they seek. Looking at the overall picture, the aliens arrive on earth at a time when humans are close to destroying themselves, – just as Jesus was born on earth when humanity was on the brink of self destruction.
All of this speaks to the very important principle that the relationship between God and man is reciprocal. This is an extremely valuable quality of God to take in. It doesn’t make God any less omnipotent; it does make our relationship with Him incredible intimate! But we have to be able to receive it. God has no needs except one – to be of use. Love is expressed through use. Religion, all too often, does not value the reciprocity between God and man. Too often God is sen as overbearing and imposing on Man.
The depiction of Louise as prophet gives us an interesting view of the immensity, and the infinite particularity, of the wisdom of God. In contemplating the whole scope of the Bible we see that the prophets of the Old Testament were given awareness of events to come many hundreds of years before they were to be; and much later in the gospels these events come to be in the life of Jesus. This means God had awareness from the ancient past, and used prophets from the Old Testament to express it. Similarly, (although it is all condensed into one woman’s life) Louis was given memories of her future daughter and her daughters death, and at the same time she was given awareness of the Aliens message to the world. She only very gradually understood what she had to do to serve the Aliens purpose. This is consistent with the holy spirit, or the urging of God’s presnce – we feel it as a creative anxiety that wont go away and we must fight within ourself to assimlate and manifest what it means an wants us to do. Like the Bible, (and so many other stories) Arrival is a story of redemption both for Louise (every individual), and for all of Humanity.