Exclusive: Denis Villeneuve on ‘Arrival’, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and ‘Dune’

     March 2, 2017

Every once in a while you see a film that just floors you. A film that has an incredible story, exceptional performances, amazing visuals, and just does everything right. While I’d love to say Hollywood releases tons of movies like this, the truth is that they don’t. Usually even great movies that are enjoyed in the moment are quickly forgotten. But that wasn’t the case after I saw Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama Arrival. After the screening I kept thinking about the story and what it meant. I even woke up the following day thinking about certain scenes. That’s when I knew I’d seen something special, and since that screening I’ve been telling everyone I know, “you need to see this film.”


Image via Paramount Pictures

If you’re not familiar with Arrival, it’s based on the Ted Chiang short story Story of Your Life and revolves around a linguist (Amy Adams) who is recruited to assist in confronting an alien species that has landed on Earth. Ships appear over a number of areas all around the world, but humanity has no means of communicating with the species in order to find out what they want. Adams’ character, alongside a mathematician played by Jeremy Renner, sets out to find a way to talk with the aliens. The film also stars Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg. You can read Brian Formo’s review here.

With the film now available on Blu-ray and digital formats, I recently sat down with director Denis Villeneuve for an exclusive video interview. He talked about why he wanted the world of Arrival to be realistic, creating “dirty” sci-fi, why Arrival was the most challenging edit session of his career, why he loves one word titles, how he doesn’t like to shoot coverage, and more. In addition, with Villeneuve currently in the editing room on Blade Runner 2049, he talked about how that’s going, and working with cinematographer Roger Deakins. Finally we ended the interview talking about his next project, Dune, and how he’s loved the property since he was 13. And while nothing is yet written, it will be his next movie, and he will start working on it in the next few weeks.


Image via Paramount Pictures

Check out what he had to say in the video above and below is exactly what we talked about.

Denis Villeneuve:

  • How he creates a dirty sci-fi world and making Arrival realistic.
  • Wanted the film to feel claustrophobic so they shot under clouds and used lenses and color timing to help create the mood.
  • How Arrival was the most complicated editing session of his career due to the circular structure and use of time.
  • How they didn’t make big changes in the edit but they did have to alter how the audience got a bit of information quickly and in a playful way.
  • His obsession with one word titles and why he loves them.
  • How he thinks of Blade Runner 2049 as a one word title with it being 2049.
  • What is it about the sci-fi genre that excites him because he made Arrival, then Blade Runner 2049 and then he’s making Dune?
  • Talks about how he doesn’t like to do a lot of coverage on his films and then talks about working with Roger Deakins on Blade Runner 2049 and only using one camera. Reveals the entire film was shot with one camera.
  • What can he say about Blade Runner 2049 and will Dune be his next movie?

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