The film Arrival propelled the sci-fi writer Ted Chiang to international fame. Both Chiang’s novel and its filmic adaptation receive positive reviews. The common theme in the original story and its adaptation is haptapod’s two-dimensional language, a system of written signs that is non-linear and visual. The novel takes advantages of the traits of written words to develop this theme while the film exploits the distinctive characteristics of visual images. Whereas thenovel is contradictory to the film in terms of their medium specificity, both explore the visual thinking that is intrinsic to language.
This paper is composed of two parts, both of which discuss the difference between the original novel and the filmic adaptation. On the one hand, the novel and its adaptation are different in terms of “the concept of free will,” which can be understood as the difference between teleology and causality. On the other hand, the novel takes a different approach to the visual thinking from that of the filmic adaptation. This paper proposes that the seeming paradox of the novel and the film be compatible if we take an affirmative attitude towards the paradox.