Arrival: Why are they here?

A scene from the film ARRIVAL by Paramount Pictures

One of the mysterious alien spacecraft which touched down on earth. Picture: Arrival

“What do they want? Where are they from?”

“ARRIVAL” tells of a new vision of first contact when expert linguist Louise Banks was brought in to investigate the appearance of mysterious spacecraft across the world.

Banks joined Colonel Weber and physicist Ian Donnelly to find out what the aliens want by deciphering their circular series of written language.

Amy Adams as expert linguist Louise Banks (2nd L) and Jeremy Jenner as physicist Ian Donnelly (2nd R) getting suited up before entering the spacecraft. Picture: Arrival

Amy Adams as expert linguist Louise Banks (2nd L) and Jeremy Jenner as physicist Ian Donnelly (2nd R) getting suited up before entering the spacecraft. Picture: Arrival

The team race against time to clarify the aliens’ intentions as mankind teeters on the verge of global war.

Acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve (“Sicario”, “Prisoners”) based this provocative science fiction thriller on a short story by Ted Chiang called “Story of Your Life”.

Director Denis Villeneuve (R) on the set of Arrival with lead actress Amy Adams (L). Picture: Arrival

“What I love about the short story is that it has a lot of layers,” Villeneuve said.

“One of them that deeply touched me is this idea of someone is in contact with death. What would happen if you know how you will die? What will your relationship with life, love, your family and friends, and with your society be?

“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.”

“Arrival” stars Academy Award nominee Amy Adams as linguist Louise Banks (“Enchanted” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”), Academy Award nominee Jeremy Jenner (“The Hurt Locker”, “Avengers” Marvel films) as theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly and Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) as US Army Colonel GT Weber.

Amy Adams played linguist Louise Banks who was enlisted to translate the alien language. Picture: Arrival

Amy Adams played linguist Louise Banks who was enlisted to translate the alien language. Picture: Arrival

Jeremy Jenner came on board as theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly. Picture: Arrival

Jeremy Jenner came on board as theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly. Picture: Arrival

Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker as US Army Colonel GT Weber. Picture: Arrival

Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker as US Army Colonel GT Weber. Picture: Arrival

“The story is about a lot of different things, but one of them is what’s known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which is the idea that the language you speak determines how you perceive the world and even what kinds of thoughts you can have,” author Chiang explained.

“The protagonist of the story is a linguist who gradually learns an alien language, and it changes the way she understands life.”

Adams (R) and Jenner with diagrams of the alien written language in the background in a scene from the movie. Picture: Arrival

Adams (R) and Jenner with diagrams of the alien written language in the background in a scene from the movie. Picture: Arrival

Production designer Patrice Vermette and artist Martine Bertrand put in a great deal of work into making a believable language. 

“Martine came up with the idea of abstract circles that look almost like coffee stains,” Villeneuve said. 

“It is one of my favourite things of the movie, how she developed that language.”

One of the abstract circle characters in the alien language created for the movie. Picture: Arrival

One of the abstract circle characters in the alien language created for the movie. Picture: Arrival

“Patrice created a dictionary,” the director added. 

“He created a structure, how to develop the words, how the words were constructed. There were piles of documents explaining to me how the language (worked).

“It was the most beautiful thing to see the level of detail and passion that Patrice brought to the project. It was insane.”

Adams interacting with the aliens in a scene from the movie. Picture: Arrival

Adams interacting with the aliens in a scene from the movie. Picture: Arrival

This psychological science fiction film is produced by the Lava Bear Films, 21 Laps Entertainment and FilmNation Entertainment, and distributed by Sony Pictures.

“Arrival” will be released in cinemas across Malaysia on 12 January 2017.