Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of the short story ‘Story of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang is one of the filmmaker’s best cinematic efforts. Arrival features impressive visuals, an eerie yet beautiful score from the late Johann Johannsson, restrained yet impactful performances (especially from Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner), as well as a layered and watertight narrative that does not betray its source material's insightful tale.
The latter benefits from a more grounded exploration of how humanity would initiate first contact with extraterrestrial life and ignores the bombast typically found in this genre. Instead, it wisely focuses on the relationships between its human and alien characters and how they would shape both species' development.
Despite making several changes to the story told by Chiang, the film is still able to convey its themes, such as determinism, the unconventional nature of time and the power of communication/language in shaping one's perspectives.
Due to Arrival's complexity, it is likely that some of its components were missed by audiences on first viewing, and others have taken on a new dimension in the years since the cinematic adaptation’s release. From enlightening uses of words in different languages, to references to other sci-fi films, Arrival is packed with fascinating details that enhance viewers' appreciation of it.
20. One Of The Film’s Most Important Scenes Almost Missed The Cut
It is common occurrence for some films to have a fair number of deleted scenes. Unfortunately, some scenes add much needed context to the stories and characters, and their exclusion works against the final cut’s comprehensibility. Arrival nearly joined the list of such films when Denis Villeneuve and editor Joe Walker almost left out a dream sequence that was key to the plot.
The scene featured Louise encountering a Heptapod in her trailer after a conversation with Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). The sequence was almost cut for length purposes, but once the director and editor realized that this was the only scene with the mention of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis they attempted to salvage it and, in the process, gave it an unusual rhythm compared to the rest of the flick.
According to Walker, turning the moment into a dream sequence helped drive home the impact of the alien’s language on Louise as well as advanced her romance with Ian.