'Arrival' Screenwriter on How 'Interstellar' Affected the Ending
The science fiction genre is a strange one. It's where anything is really possible, and the only limit is imagination, but it's also very easy to fall into typical trappings. Basically, and as with any genre, it's harder and harder to create an original piece of sci-fi that's also compelling and memorable.
Arrival achieved that, in what I consider a bit of a resurgence for high-quality science-fiction filmmaking. And yes, I loved Interstellar and am prepared to defend it to anyone. But Arrival's handling of the age-old alien invasion formula was both bold and extraordinarily refreshing. The film has been nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, and writer Eric Heisserer spoke to Collider regarding the film's ending, which was actually changed because of Christopher Nolan's epic.
"I would say the only real significant change is the gift that the heptapods leave us with. In earlier versions they were leaving sort of the blueprints to an interstellar ship, like an ark of sorts. And then Chris Nolan’s Interstellar came out and all of us got together and said, ‘Well this doesn’t quite work now’ (laughs). So we focused more on what we had there in front of us, which was the power of their language."
That's a change that as a viewer I'm so glad for. Language is the cornerstone of Denis Villeneuve's latest film, and the ending makes it stand apart from its competitors in the genre field. The original script had the aliens coming to Earth offering a mode of transportation to travel with them when they needed help
"...it was always that in three millennia we would end up being in a place to help them, and in order to have that happen we needed to start colonizing. We needed to start getting off Earth."