5 Reasons You Need To Check Out The Arrival Blu-ray
With the possible exception of James Cameron—who hasn’t made a movie in eight years—Quebec’s Denis Villeneuve may be Canada’s most successful filmmaker. In the last four years alone, he’s made four acclaimed and/or commercially successful films (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Arrival), and he has two more sci-fi epics (Blade Runner 2049, Dune) on the way.
For a minute there, it looked like Arrival was some kind of quickie oddity he was sneaking in between Sicario and the new Blade Runner, but this film went on to become something very different: a $192 million grossing blockbuster nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. In other words, if you missed Arrival in theatres, there’s a brand new Blu-ray you need to pick up. In addition to an excellent transfer, this disc offers five fascinating featurettes that reveal just how much imagination Villeneuve and his collaborators poured into this bold undertaking.
1. Xenolinguistics: Understanding Arrival
The longest of the extras on the disc, this 30-minute featurette gives most of the key participants a chance to reminisce about Arrival’s production history. In discussing casting, Villeneuve explains that Amy Adams is the only actress he ever considered for the lead, a choice he clearly feels good about. The director describes his star as “a lovely person,” whose presence on set was “like sunshine.”
2. Acoustic Signatures: The Sound Design
To the casual observer/listener, sound design might not seem like a fascinating subject, but this featurette proves otherwise. Supervising sound designer Sylvain Bellemore recalls the various real world sounds (including earthquakes, rock formations, and ice) that were used to bring the alien ships to life. He also details the extraordinary lengths the production went to, in order to get authentic sounds from televisions, phones, and other devices.
3. Eternal Recurrence: The Score
Coming off his acclaimed contribution to Sicario, composer Jóhann Jóhannsson felt an obligation to break new ground with Arrival—and he definitely succeeded. In spite of what you might think you’re hearing, nearly all of his score was recorded using old school analog technology with a minimum of digital trickery. Hundreds of layers later, he delivered one of 2016’s most distinctive scores, earning an Oscar nod for the third consecutive year.
4. Nonlinear Thinking: The Editing Process
Given Arrival’s unusual take on the relationship between past, present, and future, Villeneuve and editor Joe Walker (Sicario, 12 Years a Slave) had no choice but to break from conventional editing patterns. The duo admits that this proved to be a grueling process, but it also lead to the kinds of epiphanies that give Arrival its unique impact.
5. Principles of Time, Memory, & Language
One of Arrival’s greatest triumphs is its ability to make complex scientific concepts comprehensible to the laypeople in the audience. This featurette is a bit more challenging, offering a mind-bending exploration of the reasons we tend to understand the past better than the future. However, it turns out there are some intriguing exceptions.
The Arrival Blu-ray arrives on Earth today. For a glimpse of this Oscar-nominated movie’s otherworldly ambition, check out the trailer below.