Arrival: The climactic final line of dialogue has been revealed

Director Denis Villeneuve opted to keep the sci-fi drama's most important quote a secret  

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Arrival, the latest film from Sicario filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, is one of the best films of 2016.

A science-fiction drama based on the short Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, the plot follows linguist Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) who is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications when otherworldly crafts unexpectedly arrive on earth.

That the film's climax is stringent on one line spoken in Chinese - without subtitles - is a testament to Villeneuve's fixture as a Christopher Nolan-style Hollywood director who refuses to spell things out for his audience.

Arrival builds to a setpiece where Banks must prevent General Chang (Tzi Ma) from sparking a war by launching an attack on the spaceships. With space and time at her disposal, the protagonist drifts to the future where she meets Chang at a party where he thanks her for preventing the attack explaining how she did so: Banks echoed his wife's dying words.

Still with us?

Arriving back in the present, Adams' character calls the General and repeats the words leading him to withdraw his forces.

While Villeneuve opted to shroud the line in secrecy, screenwriter Eric Heisserer was more than happy to reveal it at the Alamo Drafthouse's Fantastic Fest: it translates as  "In war there are no winners, only widows." 

Heisserer previously explained on Reddit: "I worked so hard on the dialogue in Mandarin for Denis. Spent weeks crafting the lines that he finally approved! And then that scoundrel goes and doesn't use subtitles in that scene. I guess there's something to be said there about the nature of language. And I love Denis. But he's also a mischievous fox."

Arrival topped the UK box office on its first week of release, impressively knocking Marvel film Doctor Strange off in the process. It's been a big month for Adams who also stars as the lead in Tom Ford drama Nocturnal Animals.

Arrival Clip - Proper Introduction

Director Villeneuve's next film will be the much-anticipated sequel Blade Runner 2049. He won't be returning for Sicario sequel Soldado which is ditching Emily Blunt's protagonist in favour of a standalone film focused on Benicio del Toro's hitman.