Denis Villeneuve on Arrival & "vacation from darkness"

ARRIVAL is one of this year’s hot ticket movies. Capitalizing on the wave of sci-fi hits over the last few years (GRAVITY, INTERSTELLAR, THE MARTIAN), the movie hopes to be a big player come awards season, especially considering the movie was helmed by one of the best directors around, Denis Villeneuve.

The man has made quality film after quality film, including ENEMY, PRISONERS and SICARIO. It appears he will continue the trend with ARRIVAL, which has just screened at the Venice International Film Festival with several reviews coming out praising the work. While there, Villeneuve sat down with Deadline to talk about the movie, namely how it diverts from his normally dark work:

“I wanted to take a vacation from darkness. I had done Polytechnique, Incendies… Enemy was less dark, but then there was Prisoners and Sicario. I needed to get closer to a film that had lighter themes. For me, this is a film about mourning, but it’s still more luminous than the preceding films which were quite dark. I saw it as a parallel film, not as part of a continuity. For me, it’s a film that I did to [get away from that].”

Not only does ARRIVAL seem considerably lighter than say ENEMY or PRISONERS, but like SICARIO it seems to act as a commentary on modern issues like immigration. However, Villeneuve doesn’t see it as a firm statement on modern foreign affairs:

“It’s not exactly foreign policy, but we see to what extent the world is fragile when the slightest event — which is not ultimately threatening — what interests me is the human reactions. Faced with (the aliens’) approach, there is a paranoia that develops and a tension that develops, a disequilibrium. They’re there to teach something, but they don’t have a hidden agenda like in the majority of science-fiction stories.”
“Arrival isn’t born of a desire to comment on the current political situation in America. It’s true that when I did Sicario the point was to explore the border and see at what point there was an incredible cleavage between what was happening in the north and the south, and the tensions there, and to shine a light on that. But the film came out, and then after there was what is happening now in the government. The point wasn’t to feed the paranoia. Arrival is a film more about bridges than walls.”

I can see why after doing dark thrillers like PRISONERS Villeneuve would want to do something with a lighter, more hopeful message. I mean, that movie was seriously grim, and ARRIVAL seems to have more of a message about unity and understanding. Much like E.T., Villeneuve is trying to portray aliens in a different light than they have been in other sci-fi stories, wherein they’re usually toppling Big Ben and making Jeff Goldblum wet himself. It will be interesting to see how humans interpret their seemingly non-violent presence which, if it is akin to what would happen in the real world, will probably be something along the lines of “Kill it with fire! Burn it and its dangerous olive branch!”

ARRIVAL arrives on November 11 with Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg and Forest Whitaker.

Source: Deadline



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