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‘Arrival’: Different take on ‘we are not alone’ theme

/ 02:30 AM February 13, 2017

Scene from "Arrival"

Scene from “Arrival”

When 12 mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is hired by the US government to go inside one of them to try to translate and understand the purpose of their visit. But as mankind teeters on the verge of a cosmic war, Banks and her team must race against time to find answers to save humanity.


Directed by Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival” is a provocative science fiction thriller based on Ted Chiang’s 1998 short story “Story of Your Life.”

“One that deeply touched me is this idea that someone is in contact with death,” Villeneuve said. “By being more in relationship with death, in an intimate way with the nature of life and its subtleties, it would bring us more humility. We are in an era with a lot of narcissism. We are at the point where we are dangerously disconnected from nature. That’s what this beautiful short story was for me—a way to get back into a relationship with death and nature, and the mystery of life.”


Although Villeneuve said that he fell in love with the short story, he had great difficulty translating it into film.

“I didn’t know how to crack that short story because it’s very intellectual, in a strong and beautiful way,” he said. “The intellectual exploration of language can be mesmerizing in the short story, in a novel, on paper, but in a movie I needed something to create tension. The presence and impact of aliens take a larger place in the movie than in the short story. I wish I could have had more space to explore language in the movie, but the movie didn’t allow it.”

The film also stars Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma.

Whitaker, who plays Colonel Weber, said what drew him into the story was how the film dealt with a couple of concepts that were really interesting.

“This movie is about a growing understanding of our place in the cycle of the universe,” Whitaker said. “It explores, inside of that, communication and time. What time means, if it exists, and if all we have is the present moment. That’s a very interesting concept and one that we all should look at.” —CONTRIBUTED

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TAGS: Amy Adams, arrival, denis villeneuve, Forest Whitaker, Jeremy Renner, movie adaptation, ted chiang short story "story of your life", ufo movie
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