A linguist works with the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world.


Denis Villeneuve


Eric Heisserer (screenplay by), Ted Chiang (based on the story "Story of Your Life" written by)
332 ( 1)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 64 wins & 263 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Amy Adams ... Louise Banks
Jeremy Renner ... Ian Donnelly
Forest Whitaker ... Colonel Weber
Michael Stuhlbarg ... Agent Halpern
Mark O'Brien ... Captain Marks
Tzi Ma ... General Shang
Abigail Pniowsky ... 8-Year-Old-Hannah
Julia Scarlett Dan ... 12-Year-Old-Hannah
Jadyn Malone ... 6-Year-Old-Hannah
Frank Schorpion ... Dr. Kettler
Lucas Chartier-Dessert Lucas Chartier-Dessert ... Private Lasky
Christian Jadah ... Private Combs
Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld ... CNAC Anchor
Andrew Shaver ... Environmental Tech
Pat Kiely ... Environmental Tech


Linguistics professor Louise Banks leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touchdown in 12 locations around the world. As nations teeter on the verge of global war, Banks and her crew must race against time to find a way to communicate with the extraterrestrial visitors. Hoping to unravel the mystery, she takes a chance that could threaten her life and quite possibly all of mankind. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Why are they here?


Drama | Sci-Fi

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


When Ian suggests the names for the heptapods, he is referencing Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's comedy routine "Who's on first". As the bit starts, Abbott states "Who's on first, What's on second, and I don't know is on third." several times. Costello doesn't understand and his questions of which player is on which base are taken as true or false statements needing affirmation or correction. For example "Who's on second base?" - "No, Who's on first." - "I'm not asking what's the guy on first." - "What's on second." - "I don't know the guy's name on second." - "No, he's on third base." - "Who's on third?" - "No, Who's on first." - "Who's on first?" - "Yes" and so forth. Both Abbott and Costello's bit and Arrival show the ease of misunderstanding while communicating. See more »


Anana Rydvald plays the Danish Scientist but is credited as Swedish Scientist. See more »


[first lines]
Louise Banks: [narrating] I used to think this was the beginning of your story. Memory is a strange thing. It doesn't work like I thought it did. We are so bound by time, by its order.
Louise Banks: [coddling her baby girl] Okay. Okay. Come back to me. Come back to me. Come back to me.
Louise Banks: [later playing with her in the yard] Stick 'em up! Are you the sheriff in this here town? These are my tickle guns, and I'm gonna getcha!
6-Year-Old-Hannah: No!
Louise Banks: You want me to chase you? You better run!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The main "Music By" credit correctly lists Jóhann Jóhannsson. Later on, In the Music Department credits, both for "Music written, arranged and produced by" and then "Orchestrations", Jóhannsson's last name is misspelled Jóhansson. See more »


References 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) See more »


Written by Jóhann Jóhannsson
See more »

User Reviews

People who didn't understand 2001
9 March 2017 | by almafuerte-1See all my reviews

Picasso was a Genius, he had so much to say, he could do it in the most abstract and cryptic way, and still be beautiful, poetic, meaningful.

Jackson Pollock was a talentless drunk who threw paint on a canvas and called it art.

If 2001: A Space Odissey is the Guernica, this movie is Number 8.

That's what most of the new wave Sci Fi has become: Poorly trying to remake 2001. This movie is the definition of Kitsch. 2001 is cryptic because it had to be, this movie is cryptic because they intentionally made it cryptic. Thing is, just like the linguist who never thought of starting with drawings and mathematical representations and went straight for words in the English language, we'll be lost trying to decode it because there's nothing to decode.

Something is cryptic if it has any meaning to begin with. Not all streams of numbers are cryptic, most are merely random. It is pointless to look for the Rosetta Stone to the Voynich manuscript because the Voynich manuscript is a meaningless fake.

Arrival is the Voynich Manuscript of movies, enjoy the nonsense, and don't look for any further meaning, because there isn't any.

If at least it had any action, It could be enjoyed with some popcorn, but on top of being meaningless, it's also a snoozefest. Do yourself a favor, sit this one out.

22 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 1,999 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »



USA | Canada


English | Russian | Mandarin

Release Date:

11 November 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Story of Your Life See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada See more »


Box Office


$47,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,074,047, 13 November 2016

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS (DTS: X)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed