Kevin Nguyen, writing at GQ, on adapting Ted Chiang’s short story, “Story of Your Life” into the film Arrival.
Arrival is every bit as sophisticated as its short story origins, and magnificently translated into 2016’s best piece of cerebral science fiction. Amy Adams brings a precise, introspective performance to the film’s hero linguist Dr. Louise Banks. Villeneuve (Sicario, next year’s Blade Runner sequel) conjures intimacy and muted tensions to a film of global scale. But it’s arguably the script by Eric Heisserer that demands the most recognition for how it translates Chiang’s high-concept sci-fi so effortlessly.
Or at least it looks effortless on screen. The script took Heisserer six years to write. To get the rights to the adaptation, he required Chiang’s approval, so he worked on spec—meaning that he worked on it for free, and would only be paid if Chiang sanctioned it after it was completed. “It was the most stressful pitch of my whole career,” Heisserer said. “I lived with it for so many years.”
Listen to Carmen.
If you need an incredible, gorgeous, optimistic, brilliant film to get you through this weekend, go see ARRIVAL.
— Carmen Maria Machado (@carmenmmachado) November 12, 2016
And, if you’re interested in Storyological’s discussion of Ted Chiang’s short fiction, listen to that here.