I really enjoyed this article, and I love Arrival. I will say, it never ever occurred to me that Louise could be considered a “scientist” in any classic definition of a word. Linguistics is far closer to science in many ways than some of it’s Social sciences and Humanities cousins, but if you’re comparing it to physics or chemistry, then no. Mathematics would, by my guess, be the closest science (is math a science?).
I did see this as a collaboration between science and non-science, though. The end of the film requires her to understand both — it isn’t until she gets the theoretical physics idea of time as non-linear, and applies that to the rest of what she’s seeing in her world, that she figures out what is happening, happened, and needs to happen.
I suppose I should disclose that I’m an English prof. That might matter a touch to how I feel about the film. :) I do feel like science without art (humanities, etc.) is rather cold, and art without science — without knowledge and understanding — is nonsense. John Donne’s poem “The Sun Rising” works only because the audience understands, or at least knows about, the science. He’s playing with the scientific idea (this is the Renaissance) of the sun revolving around the earth and vice versa. He’s a great example of bringing the two together. Then again, so is Indiana Jones (It should be in a museum!).
Anyway, your post has given me so much to think about in regard to the movie. I might have to see it again to flesh out my thoughts more. But my initial response to the film stays the same:
I love a film where a humanities professor save the world!