Arrival is a 2016 American science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve. The screenplay by Eric Heisserer was based on the 1998 short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang. The film stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Denis Villeneuve|
|Screenplay by||Eric Heisserer|
|Based on||"Story of Your Life"
by Ted Chiang
|Music by||Jóhann Jóhannsson|
|Edited by||Joe Walker|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$203.4 million|
Arrival had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2016, and was released in the United States and Canada on November 11, 2016, in IMAX by Paramount Pictures. The film grossed $203 million worldwide and received positive reviews, particularly for its atmosphere, intelligent science fiction storyline and Adams's performance.
It won the 2017 Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and at the 89th Academy Awards it won the award for Best Sound Editing, as well as nominations for seven others including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also received Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress for Adams and Best Original Score for Jóhann Jóhannsson. The American Film Institute selected it as one of ten Movies of the Year.
A sequence of brief scenes follows a mother's relationship with her daughter, from her birth through childhood to her premature death as a young woman from an incurable disease.
The mother, linguist Louise Banks, is lecturing at a Massachusetts university when twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft appear at twelve different locations across Earth. U.S. Army colonel G.T. Weber asks Louise to join physicist Ian Donnelly and find out why they have come. She is brought to an army camp in Montana near one of the spacecraft.
They make contact with two seven-limbed aliens, whom they call "heptapods"; Ian nicknames them Abbott and Costello. Louise discovers that they have a written language of complicated circular symbols, written in a substance analogous to ink, or dark smoke, and she begins to learn a basic vocabulary. As she becomes more proficient, she starts to have visions of herself with her daughter and of their relationship with the absent father.
When Louise finally asks why the aliens have come to Earth, they answer "offer weapon". An alternate translation of "use weapon" is made at another site. This leads China to break off communications with the rest of the world; other nations also stop exchanging information. However, Louise argues that the symbol interpreted as "weapon" might mean "tool".
Rogue soldiers plant a bomb in the spacecraft. Unaware of this, Louise and Ian re-enter the ship. The aliens give them a much larger, more complex message. Just before the bomb explodes, Abbott ejects Ian and Louise from the craft, leaving them unconscious. When Louise and Ian reawaken, the military is preparing to evacuate, and the spacecraft has moved out of reach. Ian discovers that the symbol for time is throughout the message, and that the writing occupies exactly one-twelfth of the space in which it is projected. Louise suggests this means the aliens must want nations to cooperate.
Meanwhile, China's General Shang has issued an ultimatum to the aliens, demanding they leave within 24 hours, and he prepares to attack. Russia, Pakistan, and Sudan follow China's lead. Louise believes that evacuating is a mistake, and that further attempts to communicate are needed. She goes out alone to the alien spacecraft, and it sends down a shuttle to transport her inside. When only Costello appears, she asks about Abbott and is told Abbott is dead or dying. Louise expresses sorrow for Abbott's death, then asks who is the child in her visions; Costello explains that she is seeing the future (her "visions" are not flashbacks, but flashforwards). Costello adds that they have come to help humanity, because in 3,000 years they will need humanity's help in return. It is their language that is the "weapon" or "tool"; those who master it have their perception of time altered, and they can see the future.
Louise returns as the camp is being evacuated. She has a vision of herself at a future United Nations event, being thanked by Shang for making him decide to call off the Chinese attack. He tells her that she called his private telephone number, and he shows it to her. In the present, Louise steals a satellite phone and calls him, but does not know what to say. Her vision continues with Shang explaining that she convinced him by repeating his wife's dying words in Mandarin, which he tells Louise.[nb 1] In the present, Louise recites those words to Shang. The Chinese hold an emergency press conference to announce they are standing down militarily and are releasing their twelfth of the message. Russia does the same and others follow. The twelve spacecraft then disappear from Earth.
During evacuation of the camp, Ian expresses his love for Louise. She considers life choices, and asks him whether he would change them if he could know the future. Louise knows already that Ian will father her daughter Hannah, but that he will later leave her when she reveals she knows Hannah will die prematurely. She also knows that, when Ian will ask her if she wants to "make a baby", she will agree, despite knowing their fates.
Villeneuve had wanted to make a science fiction film for some time, although he "never found the right thing". Meanwhile, screenwriter Eric Heisserer had unsuccessfully been pitching an adaptation of Ted Chiang's short story "Story of Your Life" for years, and by the time producers Dan Cohen and Dan Levine approached him about a potential sci-fi project, he had largely given up on the idea. Cohen and Levine, however, introduced Villeneuve to the novella, which the director immediately took to, although his work on Prisoners meant that he did not have the time to properly adapt it into a screenplay. Cohen and Levine were able to get a first draft completed, which Villeneuve later reworked into a finished script. Villeneuve ended up changing the title, partly because the resulting script became so far removed from the short story, as well as sounding "more like a romantic comedy". Although Villeneuve remembered going through "hundreds" of possible titles, the eventual title was the first one the team had suggested.
Heisserer said that earlier versions of the script had a different ending: the gift from the heptapods was to have been "blueprints to an interstellar ship, like an ark of sorts", to enable humanity to help them in 3,000 years. But after the release of Interstellar in 2014, Heisserer and Villeneuve agreed that this would not work, and decided that the heptapods' gift would be what was "there in front of us ... the power of their language".
Jeremy Renner joined the film on March 6, 2015, to play a physics professor. Forest Whitaker signed on in April 2015, with Michael Stuhlbarg joining as CIA Agent Halpern that June. Linguistics professor Dr. Jessica Coon was brought on to consult with Amy Adams.
Principal photography lasted for 56 days, commencing on June 7, 2015 after Renner had finished on Captain America: Civil War. The shooting was done mainly in and around Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with St. Fabien-sur-Mer serving as Montana. The team took some time to find the right site to represent the landing, because producers wanted to avoid a mountainous site that might dwarf the scale of the ship, but thought that a barren location would be clichéd. Most of the filming that did not involve the exterior of a spacecraft was done indoors on stages, although a real house was used as Louise's home. The scenes of the university where Louise teaches were shot at the HEC Montréal.
The script used language designed by artist Martine Bertrand (wife of the production designer Patrice Vermette), based on the scriptwriter's original concept. Stephen Wolfram and Christopher Wolfram analysed it to provide the basis for Louise's work in the film. Three linguists from McGill University were consulted. The sound files for the alien language were created with consultation from Morgan Sonderegger, a phonetics expert. Lisa Travis was consulted for set design during the construction of the protagonist's workplaces. Jessica Coon, a Canada Research Chair in Syntax and Indigenous Languages, was consulted for her linguistics expertise during review of the script.
|Arrival: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score by Jóhann Jóhannsson|
|Released||November 11, 2016|
|Jóhann Jóhannsson chronology|
Jóhann Jóhannsson began writing the score as shooting started, drawing on the screenplay and concept art for inspiration. He developed one of the main themes in the first week using vocals and experimental piano loops.
Max Richter's piece "On the Nature of Daylight" is featured in the film's opening and closing scenes. Due to the prominent use of Richter's music in the final film, Jóhannsson's score was deemed ineligible for the Academy Award for Best Original Score, with the rationale being that voters would be influenced by the use of pre-existing music when judging the merits of the score.
The official soundtrack was released by Deutsche Grammophon on November 11, 2016. All music was composed by Jóhannsson.
|6.||"Transmutation at a Distance"||1:35|
|7.||"Around the Clock News"||1:35|
|10.||"Principle of Least Time"||1:20|
|12.||"Hammers and Nails"||2:32|
|15.||"Properties of Explosive Materials"||3:31|
|18.||"One of Twelve"||3:09|
A teaser trailer was released in August 2016, followed the next week by the first official trailer. Paramount Pictures released a series of promotional posters, with one showing a UFO hovering above a Hong Kong skyline that included Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower. The inaccuracy angered Hong Kong social media users. The posters were withdrawn and a statement attributed the inaccuracy to a third party vendor.
In May 2014, Paramount acquired the U.S. and Canadian distribution rights. Shortly after, Sony Pictures Releasing International and Stage 6 Films acquired some international distribution rights. The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2016. It also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and the BFI London Film Festival. The film was released on November 11, 2016.
Arrival grossed $100.5 million in the United States and Canada and $102.8 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $203.3 million, against a production budget of $47 million.
Arrival was released alongside Almost Christmas and Shut In, and was originally expected to gross around $17 million from 2,317 theaters in its opening weekend, with the studio projecting a more conservative debut of $12–15 million. The film made $1.4 million from Thursday night previews at 1,944 theaters and $9.4 million on its first day, pushing projections up to $24 million. It ended up grossing $24.1 million over the weekend, finishing third at the box office. In its second weekend, the film grossed $12.1 million (a drop of 49.6%), and in its third made $11.5 million (dropping just 5.6%). Following receiving its eight Oscar nominations, the film returned to 1,221 theaters on January 27, 2017 (an increase of 1,041 from the week before) and grossed $1.5 million (up 357.4% from its previous week's $321,411).
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 94% based on 326 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Arrival delivers a must-see experience for fans of thinking person's sci-fi that anchors its heady themes with genuinely affecting emotion and a terrific performance from Amy Adams." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 52 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Brian Tallerico, from RogerEbert.com, gave the film three out of four: "It's a movie designed to simultaneously challenge viewers, move them and get them talking. For the most part, it succeeds." At Time.com, Sam Lansky described it as "sophisticated, grownup sci-fi: a movie about aliens for people who don't like movies about aliens." IGN reviewer Chris Tilly gave it a score of 8.5 out of 10, saying: "Arrival is a language lesson masquerading as a blockbuster, though much more entertaining than that sounds. The film features shades of Interstellar, Contact and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but never feels derivative. Rather it's smart, sophisticated sci-fi that asks BIG questions, and does a pretty good job of answering them."
British film critic Robbie Collin gave Arrival five out of five, calling it: "introspective, philosophical and existentially inclined – yet it unfolds in an unwavering tenor of chest-tightening excitement. And there is a mid-film revelation – less a sudden twist than sleek unwinding of everything you think you know – that feels, when it hits you, like your seat is tipping back."
The UK newspaper The Guardian rated it as the third best film of 2016. Critic Catherine Shoard said that it "amounts to something transcendent; something to reignite your excitement for cinema, for life." Numerous other publications, including io9, Den of Geek, WhatCulture, Mir Fantastiki, The Atlantic, Blastr, and Digital Trends named Arrival the best movie of 2016.
- Screenwriter Eric Heisserer revealed at the Alamo Drafthouse's Fantastic Fest premiere of the film at the end of September 2016, that Shang's wife's last words, translated into English, were "In war, there are no winners, only widows." Director Denis Villeneuve decided not to include subtitles for Louise's line and so keep it a mystery; Heisserer said he would have preferred it not be kept secret, and was happy to reveal the translation at the Fest.
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