film: arrival

  • cinematography, shadows, editing!!!!!
  • lack of sound in flashbacks
  • edge of your seat
  • language start = end!!!!!!
  • time is a language!!!!
  • divorce positive representation within a relationship +no kiss!!!!
  • language + dialogue = action replacement!!!!!
  • the end is the beginning
  • working  together, aliens are good
  • representation=cooperation is key!!!!!!
  • black vs white = perception vs reality of good and evil
  • arrival is the departure of another
  • absence of info, what is not said, cut when louise first talked to alien, didnt tell us what happened
  • placement + evolving alien ship position/shape


DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve

PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Patrice Vermette  – article with interview about Arrival’s production design

ARRIVAL article.jpg

  •  ‘high art take on the extraterrestrial spaceship and language’
  • ‘…so we all have some preconceived idea of what an alien ship should look like. We wanted to take a different route and explore various shapes.’


  • read script
  • collect images (books, personal library, internet)
  • emotional response to words
  • assemble images into mood boards
  • brainstorm visual directions for film with director, set decorator, art director

  • inspo for spaceship from photo of oval exo-planet outside solar system, a smooth stone
  • hovering spaceship = refrain from human contact, humans have to initiate contact
  • ship interior, false gravity/direction change: to create mixed motions of danger and fascination, ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ visual metaphor




  • contrast of alien tech to modest tech used by humans to access aliens, matter of fact practical approach
  • wall texture = resembles sediment rock, built up layers of history/wisdom of alien civilisation
  • main chamber = resembles classroom, metaphor for aliens teaching humanity
  • juxtapose peaceful alien chamber with chaos in military tents


further reading: The Verge film review/discussion