A whole new world
The antiqued look of the first few pages of Shaun Tan's The Arrival makes it clear you're in for something extraordinary. Following the wordless squares of sketched narrative is like watching a jittery old scrap of film dug up from the bottom of an archive; in appearance and feel, it calls to mind Chris Marker's lovely 1962 short film La JetÅ½e. The plot is a classic a man sets out to make his way in the big city, where he'll bring his family later but this time it's infused with magic. The city is guarded by mammoth winged statues and covered in incomprehensible hieroglyphs; cute little alien creatures hide in unlikely corners. The lack of text or dialogue emphasizes the man's sense of alienation, but gradually he makes connections with other refugees and the frighteningly strange world becomes familiar.