[Film: Arrival, Denis Villeneuve, 2016]
Life Willed at every Second:

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Eternal Return of the Same

 

Arrival movie poster - analysis - Denis Villeneuve - Friedrich Nietzsche - eternal recurrence

Introduction:

The 2016 film ArrivalArrival analysis - Denis Villeneuve - eternal recurrence - Friedrich Nietzsche, directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life,” shares much with the tone of the cerebral and philosophically adventurous science-fiction from twentieth-century speculative-fiction masters like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Rod Serling. Helmed by Villeneuve, Arrival’s simultaneous full command of modern moviemaking practices as well as fidelity to that earlier era’s penchant for respecting the intellect of its audience make it an excellent film.

But as much as Arrival’s modern touches and classic style make for profuse praiseworthy and analytical fare—and have featured in reviews, essays, and explanations aplenty—it’s another relationship that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere that interests me more: the overlap between the premise of Arrival and a philosophical concept known as ‘eternal recurrence’ or ‘eternal return of the same’ that was most famously championed and explored in western philosophy by Friedrich Nietzsche. Both ultimately come around to raising the same notion: what would it mean to actively, enthusiastically, and fully will every moment of one’s life?

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[Film: Arrival, Denis Villeneuve, 2016]
Life Willed at every Second:

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Eternal Return of the Same

was last modified: March 16th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Film: Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle, 2009]
All’s Unwell that Only Ends Well:

The Inconsistent Meaning of Life in Slumdog Millionaire

 

Dev Patel (Dominick D) - Slumdog Millionaire - analysis, meaning of life

Photo by Dominick D

The notion of an overarching, providential justice overseeing and directing all human events, while out of vogue in modern philosophy, remains a huge influence on popular culture. That this sort of determined or corrective justice acts not just generally across time, but within a given life, is a particularly attractive thought to the fictive tales of the film industry. The reasons for this are myriad, bringing to both content creators and audiences an appeasement of their desire to see good things happen to good people; their desire to see bad things happen to bad people; and their desire to witness miraculous or incredible events.

The 2009 Academy Award winner for Best Picture (and other categories) was Slumdog MillionaireSlumdog Millionaire, a case-in-point of the populace’s penchant for fictionalized treatments of karmic justice, as directed by Danny Boyle. This concept of overarching justice can be understood by its relation to the philosophical topic of internal meaning. For a human life to have internal meaning, it must be good for the person who lives it and it must include worthwhile activities (for a more detailed account of meaning, see this encyclopedia entry). Ultimately, Slumdog Millionaire seems to put forward a short-sighted account which contends that a life can be internally meaningful if it contains worthwhile activity and if, by way of some kind of providence, it ends up being good for the person who lives it.

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[Film: Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle, 2009]
All’s Unwell that Only Ends Well:

The Inconsistent Meaning of Life in Slumdog Millionaire

was last modified: April 3rd, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski