Thursday, May 25, 2017

Video Essay: Arrival — an Adaptation

Arrival was the most intellectually stimulating film to hit theaters of 2016.  Both epic and intimate, soulful and suspenseful, the movie was literary in way so few modern movies are.

In his latest video essay, Michael Tucker of Lessons from the Screenplay examines how Denis Vialleneuve's film departs from Ted Chiang's source material, Story of Your Life, transforming Louise's story from one of predestination into one of choice.

In the short story, Louise's daughter dies in a rock-climbing accident.  In the movie adaptation, she dies from an unpreventable illness.  In an interview on Jeff Goldsmith’s podcast, The Q&A, screenwriter Eric Heisserer explains “I think it’s more profound for me if she has a choice, if she has free will, and can change her future, and yet she chooses to have Hannah.”

The choice is a superb example of how adapting a story for the big screen can actually add depth, rather than gutting it.  Tucker elaborates on Heisserer's deft touch with an analysis of the movie's exposition and editing changed scenes, ultimately resulting in a more powerful narrative.

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