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Book Vs Movie: “Arrival”

The Ted Chiang Novella Vs the Amy Adams Film

The Margos are looking into the world of language and SciFi with the Ted Chiang novella Story of Your Life published in 1998 and the 2016 movie directed by Denis Villeneuve Arrival.  

(Warning! Spoilers coming right your way!)

In the story, Dr. Louise Banks is a linguist and narrator tasked to help the U.S. Government with a group of alien shapeships who suddenly arrive. The aliens are “heptapods” and it is Banks’s job to try and create a common language with them. She is helped by Dr. Gary Donnelly and the two make contact with two heptapods named Flapper and Raspberry. 

During this assignment, she learns that she will one day become a mother to a daughter who will die young. She can see in the future all of these interactions with her. She can also see that she marries Dr. Donnelly and he leaves her in the future. 

If you have knowledge of the future, do you have an obligation to let others know? What if you have a child with someone and know when they will die? What is your obligation with this knowledge?

The movie Arrival stars Amy Adams as Dr. Banks and Jeremy Renner (known as Ian Donnelly in the film) It would go on to receive eight Academy Awards nominations including for Best  Best Picture and Best Director. But NOT for Best Actress for Adams. BOO!

So between the book and the film–which did we prefer? Have a listen and find out! 

In this ep the Margos discuss:

  • Bio of author Ted Chiang
  • The differences between book and film
  • Would you want to know 
  • The cast: Amy Adams (Dr. Louise Banks,) Jeremy Renner (Ian Donelly,) Forest Whitaker (Colonel Weber,) Michael Stuhlbarg (Agent Halpern,) Mark O’Brien (Captain Marks,) and Tzi Ma (General Shang.) 

Clips used:

    • Arrival trailer
    • “A proper introduction…”
    • “The nature of questions”



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Margo P. @ShesNachoMama 


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