Rick McGinnis writes:
They’re a by-product of a culture that has been secularizing with growing speed for over a century, but they touch on every kind of theological idea and heresy, flirting with Gnosticism and imagining the aliens as both devils and gods – or even God. When made with intelligence and skill, you can feel the spiritual yearning in every shot, the desire for an answer even if – absent any actual aliens – we’re really just asking ourselves the question.
Finally, Adams’ linguist has her eureka moment with the realization that the aliens don’t share our linear sense of time as much as a circular one. It’s a conceit, to be sure, but sci-fi lives and dies by its conceits, and ever since Einstein our ideas about time have been challenged in the theoretical realm even as we continue to live firmly embedded in the eternal present, looking back on a past we misremember while anticipating futures we perpetually imagine as bleak and dismal.