Talk:Arrival (film)

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Arrival's Plot[edit]

Plot v Narrative? "Linguist Louise Banks's daughter, Hannah, dies in adolescence from an incurable illness. Twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft appear at separate locations around the Earth. A U.S. Army officer, Colonel G.T. Weber, recruits Banks "

I know it's difficult what with the alien's (and then later, Banks') Tralfamadorian view of time, but isn't this confusing the plot (What Happens) with the narrative (What the Audience Sees)? Matt Whyndham (talk) 16:19, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

Plot write-up error - The daughter dies of a generic disorder not cancer. in the film when the main character is speaking with the daughter about the father leaving she mentions a genetic disorder. Cancer is never mentioned in the film. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2620:72:0:A30:4D31:A474:F3A3:1A10 (talk) 18:13, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

I can't remember whether the specific illness was mentioned in the film or not. There are however multiple citations giving it as cancer, including the LATimes cited in the article, where this is specifically mentioned. I believe I saw an interview with Amy Adams where she said the same. IanB2 (talk) 18:52, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
The malady is identified only as "a rare disease", without greater detail. In the death scene Hannah has no hair, as if she's been receiving chemotherapy, and that is presumably the origin of the cancer attribution. But cancer is never mentioned, and there are other diseases that are treated with chemotherapy. (And for that matter, other diseases that cause baldness themselves.) Laodah 07:31, 28 November 2017 (UTC)
This was discussed further in the separate talk section below. I suspect the truth was that the film was made with the cast understanding the illness as cancer, which is how it got into the citations and the Adams interview, even though this is not stated in the film. Since the plot section is for setting out what actually happens in the film, it is right that the suggestion made below to remove the reference was implemented, some months back now, for our article. MapReader (talk) 09:11, 28 November 2017 (UTC)


Crboyer and Vmars, is it really Arrival's plot when this film is not released yet in United States officially?

IreneTandry (talk) 16:07, 13 October 2016 (UTC)

I don't know. Crboyer (talk) 17:13, 13 October 2016 (UTC)

The film has already premiered in other locations. While I can't confirm or deny that this plot is the film's official plot, it is justified in being present. Perhaps you could ping the user who added the info in the first place.-RM (talk) 17:29, 13 October 2016 (UTC)
I think it's just the plot distributors released, it'll likely be updated once it's official release.Vmars22 (talk) 23:53, 13 October 2016 (UTC)
The film has not had a commercial release anywhere. The plot was added on Oct. 10 here by an anon IP, sometime after the Venice premiere. It was completely inappropriate and a violation of core WP:FILM guidelines to have had a full plot — and an overwritten, more than 700-word version at that. --Tenebrae (talk) 13:48, 25 October 2016 (UTC)
I see nothing in WP:FILMPLOT that says anything about not adding a plot summary until after commercial release. If content is available, it can be added now, in so far as I understand the guidelines. But, yes, it is advised that it is less than 700 words unless particularly complicated. Bondegezou (talk) 14:34, 25 October 2016 (UTC)
Actually, it does say that: "The plot section describes the events of the original general release." So if there's been no original general release, there's no plot section, just a synopsis. --Tenebrae (talk) 23:24, 25 October 2016 (UTC)

Science magazine review[edit]

Good review in Science magazine, which spoke to linguists, who had a favorable reaction, and explained some of the linguistic principles that the movie included.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/11/linguists-new-sci-fi-film-arrival-cant-come-soon-enough
For linguists, the new sci-fi film Arrival can't come soon enough
By Brice Russ
Science
Nov. 11, 2016

“The linguistics was very good,” says David Adger, a linguist at Queen Mary University of London who specializes in syntax, the rules that govern sentence structure. “The portrayal of trying different hypotheses about the language, coming up with generalizations, and testing them out was spot on. It gave a good sense of the excitement of fieldwork on a new language, as well as of some of the frustrations.”

--Nbauman (talk) 16:39, 13 November 2016 (UTC)

That's a fluff piece, allowing a linguist or two to say a few feel-good things about their field. It's routine practice: hook into whatever pop crap is hitting the headlines and say something nice about it and about your field. This type of "outreach" faff gets academics promoted, but in the long run it only cements popular misconceptions and thereby the anti-intellectual alienation that gets demagogues elected. As for the actual linguistics in the actual movie, it is all rubbish, of course.137.205.100.185 (talk) 08:20, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

Stephen Wolfram's contribution[edit]

Stephen Wolfram was a consultant, and his son wrote much of the code in the movie, which he described in his blog:

http://blog.stephenwolfram.com/2016/11/quick-how-might-the-alien-spacecraft-work/
https://backchannel.com/i-had-one-night-to-invent-interstellar-travel-b2466882ef5c?gi=7e73be09588d
Quick, How Might the Alien Spacecraft Work?
November 10, 2016
--Nbauman (talk) 02:38, 14 November 2016 (UTC)

Oh brother...137.205.100.185 (talk) 08:22, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

flash forward[edit]

All of her visions were a flash forward, even before she came in contact with the heptapods? Bangabandhu (talk) 14:27, 26 November 2016 (UTC)

She didn't have any visions or flash forwards before she started learning the language. The opening shots of the film were a plot device - a flash forward by the movie itself - to plant the idea in viewers' minds that the sequences with the child were in the past, hence increasing the surprise when the true plot line is realised. There is lots of discussion about plot points on IMDb. IanB2 (talk) 15:27, 26 November 2016 (UTC)


I now think that the film's opening sequence is a true reminiscence, occuring after her daughter's death and, thus, many years after the aliens' arrival. This is a common device in movie making. The spoken words fit this theory. Unfortunately, other interpretations would fit too -- she could be thinking these thoughts at any point after the aliens' departure. This all amounts to OR but it is relevant if we are to choose appropriate wording for the article's plot section.

Perhaps we should change "In what appears to be a flashback," to something like "In the opening sequence," and, later in the sentence, we might add "in a voice-over, she says".

This might avoid the problem of supporting any particular theory. I haven't fully thought this through yet but I wanted to share it, in case others want to pick up this torch. Black Walnut (talk) 17:08, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

the film ends with Louise and Ian still discussing the possibility of having a child, who isn't at that point in time conceived, let alone born. Therefore it cannot, in the context of the plot and its timespan, be a 'flashback' or reminiscence, since we never get to the time from which the past events are being remembered. As a plot device it is intended to throw viewers off the scent of the real plot - that Louise will slowly come to be able to see the future. So it's a preview of a flashforward - and has to be a flashforward since the events within it take place after the time period of the storyline in the film, as do the later forward-sequences showing Louise with her child IanB2 (talk) 17:43, 27 February 2017 (UTC)

Paradoxes[edit]

It would be interesting to discuss next paradoxes (and maybe add to article the explanation):
First let the arrival to begin on 01.06.2016 12:00 UTC. The Louise's call was on 28.06.2016 06:00 UTC. The banquet on which general Shang showed his mobile number was on 28.12.2017 00:00 UTC.
1) If Louise doesn't remember the call to Chinese general, who was calling to him during period 28.01.2016 06:00 UTC -- 28.06.2016 00:00 UTC?
2) What would happen if general Shang did not show her his mobile number?
37.52.42.124 (talk) 13:44, 5 February 2017 (UTC)

I think you need IMDb? This doesn't appear directly relevant to an encyclopaedia page on the film.

E.g. in article [1] there is illustration. Besides, I don't know how to discuss on IMDb (I assume at least the registration will be needed, and IMDb does not appear to be a scientific resource).37.52.42.124 (talk) 21:17, 6 February 2017 (UTC)
We cannot add anything to the article which is not sourced and there is not much point in us trying to "figure out" (speculate, i.e., original research) things like the paradoxes ourselves on the talk page, since the talk page is devoted to discussion on how to improve the article and OR is not allowed. You seem to want a "scientific" explanation for things in a fictional film dealing with fictional science (accessing her own future to affect her present is science fiction), sorry, that's not what we do here, and actually it's a waste of your time. Time paradoxes are not real observable phenomena, they're the result of time travel thought experiments (what if you could go back in time...). There is no scientific explanation for such things since they don't happen, as far as we know, in real life ZarhanFastfire (talk) 07:26, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Is the time structure of the film a closed loop, mirroring the nonlinear script of the aliens? At the outset of the film, Louise has lost her daughter Hannah and is teaching at the university - at the end, she is ready to marry Ian even though she knows he will father Hannah and that Hannah will die early. So they are all living in a "hidden" looped timeline? Or ia the time continuum folded once the aliens arrive? 83.254.129.192 (talk) 20:58, 22 September 2017 (UTC)

Arrival's Plot & spoilers[edit]

Isn't there a rule on wikipedia about not providing spoilers in film plots? Yet the first sentence of the plot provides one. 2001:44B8:41CD:3800:A46B:45C:2603:AB38 (talk) 02:13, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

Have a look at WP:SPOILER, which explains Wikipedia's stance on plot spoilers. —Bruce1eetalk 06:32, 28 February 2017 (UTC)
Plots are not movie trailers and Wikipedia is not a fan based discussion board where people waste time and space creating elaborate banners shouting 'spoiler' before engaging in any discussion about a film currently playing. If you don't want to know what goes on in the first few minutes in a film, then don't read the first lines of a plot about the film, it's really that simple. ZarhanFastfire (talk) 06:42, 1 March 2017 (UTC)

Cause of Hannah's death[edit]

An IP raised above the issue of what Hannah dies of. The article says "cancer", with a citation. This isn't what I heard in the film. This source says "Hannah will die of a rare illness that, the film suggests, was caused by her parents’ exposure to the aliens before Hannah was even conceived." This blog says "In the film, the dialogue clarifies that it’s an incurable genetic disease." Another blog has "Hannah dies from a 'rare and unstoppable' disease." I can't find any sources other than the one given that say it's cancer. Peter coxhead (talk) 16:49, 1 March 2017 (UTC)

Your claim doesn't really stack up, given that the quickest of web searches on the film including the word 'cancer' throws up dozens of hits, and the original formulation used in this article of "a rare form of cancer" was a direct quote from the first review of the film in the Hollywood Reporter after its release at the Venice Film Festival. What isn't clear is where the Reporter got the info from. It has however also been subsequently reported (or copied, perhaps?) by authoritative media sources across the world. IanB2 (talk) 19:22, 1 March 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I was wrong about other sources saying "cancer" – I wasn't searching with the right keywords. However, in spite of the number of times it's repeated, I'm pretty sure that nowhere in the film is this said. We have a responsibility to report what reliable sources say, even if they are wrong, but we also have a responsibility to challenge what they say if we think they are wrong and there are sources to back this. Peter coxhead (talk) 11:41, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
With so many reputable published sources, and with THR having been on the spot interviewing the key people at the film's preview launch, it is going to be a tough one finding authoritative evidence to the contrary? Also worth noting that the points made by the IP aren't necessarily contradictory - of illnesses likely to be caused by exposure to an alien substance, I would imagine cancer is top of the list; many cancers are incurable/unstoppable; some are rare; some forms of cancer are geneticly inherited. And it's just a fictional story, anyhow, with the cause being irrelevant to the plot. The article would work just as well without referring to the cause at all; if it isn't in the actual film, maybe that's the answer? Provided we are certain of that fact. IanB2 (talk) 20:17, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

Opening line of plot summary[edit]

"An introductory sequence shows linguist Louise Banks's daughter Hannah, who dies in early adulthood from an incurable illness."

I understand why this is here. But here are my problems with it:

  • Speaking generally, convoluted constructions like "An introductory sequence shows"... aren't great in plot summaries. In almost all cases, they're clunky to read and usually describe technical editing and structure, not plot.
  • To the first-time reader, "An introductory sequence..." appears redundant - they know it's the introduction because it's the first thing in the plot summary. They can't know, at this point, that it's really there to avoid suggesting that the scenes happen before the rest of the story. Even if you think this is it worth it for the "payoff", it's not a great reading experience.
  • And actually, considering the first-time reader will assume "An introductory sequence..." takes place before the rest of the story anyway, I'm not sure it's a great point of clarity. They will simply take from it the same meaning they would as if "In an introductory sequence..." weren't there.

I suggest one of two solutions:

  • remove the entire sentence (we lose no plot information this way - seriously - we just introduce the "flashforwards" a little later)
  • rewrite as "Louise Banks's daughter Hannah dies in early adulthood from an incurable illness." This doesn't commit us to a timeframe, and while readers will assume it happens before the other events, they will also assume this from the current, convoluted wording. Same effect, fewer words. Popcornduff (talk) 10:04, 25 September 2017 (UTC)


I'm learning towards having the line in there as you've written in the second bullet (with the addition of "Linguist" prior to "Louise" how it was prior to September 24?). I do agree that "An introductory sequence shows" isn't appropriate. Does "she has visions of herself with Hannah" in the second paragraph imply that everything surrounding Hannah occurs in the future? – Rhinopias (talk) 17:38, 25 September 2017 (UTC)

@MapReader: I have changed the final sentence, partially reverting your edit here because it's more clear what their "fate" is involving Hannah. Whether or not Popcornduff's suggestions are implemented, somewhere the plot should mention Hannah dies. – Rhinopias (talk) 17:50, 25 September 2017 (UTC)

Reception[edit]

Judging from the Reception section it would seem this movie is almost universally acclaimed. However, reading the majority of the IMDB reviews it seems this movie was mostly panned by regular viewers - at least by the people who took the time to write a review. Maybe this article needs to balance the praise of the reception section with a couple of quotes from people who thought the movie was crap.184.160.140.254 (talk) 23:14, 14 October 2017 (UTC)

What did she say to General Shang?[edit]

What were the words Shang's wife said to him on her deathbed, which Louise Banks repeated to him over the phone? Did Amy Adams pronounce the Mandarin clearly enough that someone could translate them? This information could augment the article. Thanks for your time. Twixter (talk) 04:32, 6 November 2017 (UTC)

It's already in the article, in the production section (it doesn't belong in plot since there is no translation in the actual film, and the meaning isn't part of the storyline) MapReader (talk) 05:25, 6 November 2017 (UTC)

In war, there are no winners...we only have widows. Karizmaondis1 (talk) 21:26, 1 January 2018 (UTC)

Reed[edit]

I removed his review. The man has one of the worst reputations as a reviewer and doesn't belong on this page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.84.125.249 (talk) 05:38, 29 November 2017 (UTC)

Identify correct flashback points in plot summary, current version does not identify them[edit]

Thanks for your edits at Arrival. The film makes a notable distinction in its narrative between premonition time and the depicted time of events as they transpire. The preamble to the film is the fulfillment of one of her premonitions of the death of her child, which is unknown to the film watching audience as being a premonition until the film develops further. Since Wikipedia does not protect spoilers, this information about the fulfillment of the premonition should be included in some way in the first paragraph of the plot summary as useful to readers. JohnWickTwo (talk) 12:45, 3 March 2018 (UTC)

The issue is not spoilers. The plot section of a WP article should set out what happens, rather than any individual editor's interpretation, which would be WP:OR. Your "premonition dating back several years" is both a contradiction and an assumption. There is nothing in the introductory sequence that indicates it is a premonition; indeed the actor's voiceover suggests it is a retrospective. And the remaining parts of your edit were unnecessary. What is really needed is a return to the An introductory sequence.. formulation of the article, which had the advantage of avoiding edits that attempt to impose their own interpretation of events, as did yours. MapReader (talk) 12:51, 3 March 2018 (UTC)
There is no WP:OR in the edit I have placed. You appear to be stating that the film makes no distinction between premonition time and the depicted time of events as they transpire during the larger portion of the film. Her premonition of the death of her child frames the entire film, the very start of the film and the very end of the film, and it would be useful to included this in the first paragraph of the plot summary. There is no WP:OR in this edit. Her premonitions are a part of the film. JohnWickTwo (talk) 13:01, 3 March 2018 (UTC)
The premonitions are certainly part of the film. But the introductory sequence isn't necessarily one of them; that is simply your assumption. Stick to describing what happens on screen.MapReader (talk) 13:04, 3 March 2018 (UTC)
You are listed as the top editor of this article and it is significant to know that this is not my assumption but a part of the film as made by the director. The death of her child frames the entire film at the very start and at the very end. Her premonition is that she will marry her co-worker, that they will have a child, that their child will die, and that he will leave her. You appear to be protecting this as a spoiler to the film which is against WP:Spoiler policy, which does not recognize the protection of spoilers on Wikipedia. Use your own words to describe the premonition's importance to the event of the death of the child and to the film as a whole in the first paragraph of the plot section if you do not feel my version was accurate. It was the director's choice to edit in the premonition of the death of the child as the first scene of the film and not my assumption. It is the director's choice to present the fulfilled premonition as being the first scene of the film. JohnWickTwo (talk) 13:19, 3 March 2018 (UTC)
All true, except for the statement that it was a premonition, which is your personal conclusion. The voiceover suggests that it was a retrospective, narrated after all the events of the film had taken place. My view is that the premonitions don't start until later in the film, once she starts working on the alien language. In any event, anything that needs to be debated isn't storyline but OR. MapReader (talk) 13:24, 3 March 2018 (UTC)
I've just noticed that you did adapt the language there just now which is useful. I meant to write 'fulfilled premonition' above but you understood my meaning. Your comment above that 'once she starts working on the alien language' is more strongly stated here than in the plot summary and it would be nice if you could use something like your wording here in the article itself. Its not OR to include this since her study of the alien language appears to be directly related to her starting to experience the premonitions. JohnWickTwo (talk) 13:41, 3 March 2018 (UTC)
Absolutely. The key point here is, however, that the film doesn't (in my view) start with a premonition. Hence the problem with your original edit. The problem with your suggestion, however, is that you are not following the storyline, which doesn't 'reveal' that the child sequences mid-film are premonitions until near the end. Certainly WP should not exclude spoilers from the plot, but neither should 'explanations' be inserted earlier into a storyline than they emerge in the actual film. MapReader (talk) 13:46, 3 March 2018 (UTC)
Word this as best you can. Following a storyline with multiple flashbacks is sometimes best done by summarizing them in time sequence when summarizing a 2-hour film in 400 words. Our local library had a copy of the dvd which records the following sequence of scenes in the film with their approximate time stamps. She first appears with her child after having it with a husband in the first 10 minutes of the film. Then flashback to her as a single unmarried professor teaching class when the aliens first arrive while she is still single and without child. At approximately 30 minutes into the film she first meets her future husband. At 60 minutes into the film she experiences her first premonition while starting to learn the alien language. More premonitions lead to world cooperation, and she eventually marries and has the child, and the film comes full circle to the introductory sequence at the start of the film. If you prefer your version of the storyline, then indicating the flashback points would help the plot summary. The current version does not indicate these flashback points in the plot summary. JohnWickTwo (talk) 12:22, 4 March 2018 (UTC)

The problem with "An introductory sequence..." is that it isn't clear to the uninitiated why this is written, as all films have introductory sequences. It appears redundant, and doesn't actually clarify anything. Popcornduff (talk) 12:25, 4 March 2018 (UTC)

I see where you are coming from. However experience with this page is that the "introductory sequence..." formulation is stable, until it is removed. Thereafter editors arrive to introduce their own interpretation as to what the opening sequence of the film - which is clearly separate from the main narrative - actually means. As has happened in this case. Hence the advantage in flagging the separateness of the opening sequence in the article, whilst leaving readers to draw their own conclusions, as does the film. MapReader (talk) 12:53, 4 March 2018 (UTC)