classified 12A

The Sound of Sci-Fi


Please note: This was screened in April 2018

Denis Villeneuve
Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
116 mins, 2016, USA

Best known for blending the electronic with the classical, the recent tragic death of Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson has robbed us of one of the world's most talented contemporary exponents of the film score. His otherworldly score to Denis Villeneuve's richly textured sci-fi drama Arrival emphasised unique vocals and eerie tape looping to find a new musical language and is just one of many iconic scores he composed that he will rightly be revered and remembered for.

When 12 alien spacecraft land at various locations around the globe a linguistics expert Dr Banks (Amy Adams) and a theoretical physicist (Jeremy Renner) are recruited by a US colonel (Forest Whitaker) to obtain the answer to one question: "What do they want?" As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, the team face a race against time for the answers they urgently need from Dr Banks as she struggles to comprehend the seemingly unfathomable alien messages.

Aptly, for a film concerned about language, Jóhannsson’s atmospheric score utilised found sounds and the unique, harmonic voices of singer Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and avant-garde voice ensemble Theatre of Voices, repeating and layering the vocals until they become an echoing, encompassing, otherworldly chant. Favouring the experimental over the conventional, Jóhannsson's legacy with Arrival is the creation of one of most notable and groundbreaking sci-fi soundscapes to have ever paid us a visit .

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