Director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriter Eric Heisserer created a fully functioning, visual, alien language. Heisserer, Villeneuve and their teams managed to create a "logogram bible," which included over a hundred different completely operative logo-grams, seventy-one of which are actually featured in the movie.
The inky circular alien language was created by Montreal artist Martine Bertrand. It is also the artist's son who created Hannah's drawings.
While the shape of the ship was decided early on, Denis Villeneuve had great difficulty imagining an interior that would allow humans to easily navigate through such a steep and vertical design. The later decision to turn gravity sideways offered an obvious and convenient solution.
"Dirty Sci-fi" is what director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Bradford Young called the look they created together for Arrival. Villeneuve wanted it to feel like "This was happening on a bad Tuesday morning, like when you were a kid on the school bus on a rainy day and you'd dream while looking out the window at the clouds."
Ted Chiang, who wrote the story the film is based upon, approved the film, saying, "I think it's that rarest of the rare in that it's both a good movie and a good adaptation... And when you consider the track record of adaptations of written science fiction, that's almost literally a miracle."
The Hungarian word to which Halpern refers is "szalámitaktika." (In English, this translates to "salami tactics.") The word means to divide the opposition, in order to only have to face smaller, weaker enemies.
The original name for the film was "Story of Your Life," the same as the source novella. Test audiences did not like that title, so it was changed to "Arrival."
Director Denis Villeneuve and the writing team took extensive efforts to ensure the movie's scientific ideology was accurate. Renowned scientist and tech innovator Stephen Wolfram and his son Christopher Wolfram were consulted to ensure all terminology, graphics and depictions were sound.
Louise tells Colonel Weber that the word 'kangaroo' comes from an historical misunderstanding, and actually means "I don't know", only to tell Ian that the story is untrue but illustrates her point. This is an actual myth, not just a made up story. It involves Lieutenant James Cook and Sir Joseph Banks who arrived in Australia in the 18th century, where they made contact with the Guugo Yimithirr, a coastal Aboriginal tribe. They were puzzled by the sight of a kangaroo, and asked a tribesman what it was. According to the myth, the tribesman responded with the word "gangurru", meaning "I don't understand" in his language. Banks mistook it for the local term for the animal, spelling it as "kanguru" in his diary. The myth was debunked in the 1970s by linguist John B. Haviland. In reality, the word gangurru specifically refers to the grey kangaroo in the Guugo Yimithirr language. When Cook and Banks traveled 1,400 miles inland, they encountered the Baagandji tribe, who were unfamiliar with the other tribe and the word gangurru, and thought it meant "unknown animal". The Baagandji then started to use the word to describe Cook's and Banks' horses.
In writing the story, Ted Chiang had in mind the following quote of the great physicist Albert Einstein: "The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."
The heptapod's craft owes its design to an asteroid called 15 Eunomia. During research, director Denis Villeneuve became attracted to Eunomia's "insane shape like a strange egg" and thought that kind of pebble or oval shape would bring a perfect sense of menace and mystery to the spacecraft.
In the whiteboard shot where Louise writes the big question, immediately above the question is the standard formula for entropy - the arrow of time.
The classical music piece that bookends the film is "On the Nature of Daylight" by Max Richter. Its prominence during the film and the fact that it was a pre-existing track meant that Jóhann Jóhannsson's score was deemed ineligible for an Academy Award despite being highly acclaimed.
The film's composer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, stated he started recording the score before the movie had even started filming, and he and the director like to work on the music as the director's films are being made.
Amy Adams was Denis Villeneuve's first choice for Louise. She agreed to the role within 24 hours of receiving the script.
In the novella, "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang, nine "looking glasses" arrive in America, a total of 112 worldwide. The film reduces that number and alters the dimensions to more profound effect.
This movie is based upon the short story "Story of Your Life", written by Ted Chiang in 1998.
Scandinavian photographer Martina Hoogland Ivanow was a major influence on cinematographer Bradford Young's look of this film, especially with her exhibition and book "Speedway."
In the Italian edition of the movie, Abbott and Costello are called Tom and Jerry and the band who had a success in the Eighties in each of the ships' landing sites is Pink Floyd instead of Sheena Easton: these changes were made because both Abbott and Costello and Sheena Easton are not well-known icons in Italian culture.
Jóhann Jóhannsson also composed the scores for director Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners (2013), Sicario (2015), and was attached to Blade Runner 2049 (2017) before being replaced due to creative differences.
When Ian suggests the names for the heptapods, he is referencing Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's comedy routine "Who's on first". As the bit starts, Abbott states "Who's on first, What's on second, and I don't know is on third." several times. Costello doesn't understand and his questions of which player is on which base are taken as true or false statements needing affirmation or correction. For example "Who's on second base?" - "No, Who's on first." - "I'm not asking what's the guy on first." - "What's on second." - "I don't know the guy's name on second." - "No, he's on third base." - "Who's on third?" - "No, Who's on first." - "Who's on first?" - "Yes" and so forth. Both Abbott and Costello's bit and Arrival show the ease of misunderstanding while communicating.
A homage to Contact (1997) is paid by using Hokkaido as a site, where the secret second vessel was built in Contact.
When the colonel sneaks up on Louise, an inconspicuous picture of renowned linguist Noam Chomsky can be seen on a shelf right above her laptop.
On the TV news the 12 landings include one in the Indian Ocean, two in North America, and one in Europe. However, the communications tent has an array of 12 large screens which include one from Australia (who'd be coordinating the ships off their west coast); but only one screen for the USA, and yet two from Europe. This is because one landing happened in Greenland, which politically remains part of Denmark.
As soon as director Denis Villeneuve finished this film, he began work on Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
Despite receiving nominations for Best Actress at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Screen Actors Guild awards, Critics Choice awards and even the Saturn Awards, Amy Adams failed to receive an Academy Award nomination. Critics, audiences, major film groups and publications considered this a major snub at the time.
The shots inside the university (in class and when she walks through a cafeteria) were filmed at HEC Montréal University, at the Decelles building.
Montana is also the site of first contact between humans and aliens in Star Trek lore, as first revealed in Star Trek: First Contact (1996).
The score music "On The Nature Of Daylight" by Max Richter is also used in the movies Stranger Than Fiction (2006), Shutter Island (2010) and Disconnect (2012).
When Denis Villeneuve finally agreed to direct the movie he said to the film's screenwriter, Eric Heisserer, "Alright Eric, now we are married".
Ted Chiang drew themes and inspiration for "The Story Of Your Life", the story Arrival is based on, from Fermat's Principle Of Least Time and Variational Principles Of Physics.
Despite being deemed ineligible for Academy Award consideration, Jóhann Jóhannsson's score was still nominated at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Critics Choice awards, Grammys, ASCAP Awards, Gold Derby Awards, International Film Music Critics Awards and the World Soundtrack Awards.
The helmets worn are modified respiratory protection units manufactured by Sundstrom, which are widely used in all industries.
Filming began in mid-June 2015, right after Jeremy Renner completed the shooting of Captain America: Civil War (2016).
Amy Adams revealed in an interview with The New York Times that she did not know Mandarin prior to filming the movie.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
During the sequence showing satellite views of the Shell landing spots it is shown that the UK site is above the village of Kingswear in South Devon. The image used is from Google Maps with the Shell added over the hill to the southeast of the village. However, the poster advertising the movie shows a reversed image of Mortehoe and Woolacombe beach, in North Devon for the locations of the UK Shell.
Principal photography on the film began on 7 June 2015 in Montréal, Québec, Canada.
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated in any of the acting categories.
In Arrival (2016) Forest Whitaker plays a military officer who recruits civilian experts with special skills to assist with the first contact of an alien species. In Species (1995) he was a civilian expert with a special skill who was recruited to assist with the first contact of an alien species.
Three of the locations that the alien spaceships land on Earth include the U.S. state of Montana, the United Kingdom, and Russia. These are some of the locations that the alien Tripods landed in John Christopher's 1988 novel "When the Tripods Came," which is the prequel to his "Tripods" novel trilogy.
The siren emitted throughout the movie signaling the scientists' preparation to approach the ship is identical to the siren used in The Purge (2013) and its sequels.
In the early scene where Col. Weber visits Louise in her school office, he mentions she still has another two years in her SSBI which stands for Single Scope Background Investigation, a type of US security clearance investigation required for TOP SECRET-level Controlled Access Programs. It involves running background checks of the subject's employment, education, organization affiliations and any local agency in places where they have lived, worked, traveled or attended school, including interviews with persons who know the subject both personally and professionally. Once granted, Top Secret clearance is good for five years, after which another SSBI must be conducted for renewal. Presumably, Louise's SSBI was first conducted by Army Intelligence before she was allowed to translate their recordings of Iranian insurgents speaking in Farsi.
Actor Forest Whitaker's Army officer character wears a combat patch for the 101st Airborne Division on the right shoulder of his uniform. In the 1993 film Body Snatchers, Forest Whitaker's also played an Army officer who wore a combat patch for the 101st Airborne Division on the right shoulder of his uniform.
Despite the special effects being recognized at the BAFTAs, Critics Choice awards, Gold Derby Awards, Saturn Awards, and more than a dozen critics circles, the film failed to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.
Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner have both appeared in comic book films dealing with alien invasions. Adams starred in DC's Man of Steel (2013); Renner starred in Marvel's The Avengers (2012).
The first of two sci-fi films Forest Whitaker appeared in during 2016. The second was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016).