Arrival Review: What Does the Ending of Mean?

The meaning of the film Arrival: explanation of the plot & ending. Arrival is a science fiction film by Denis Villeneuve with elements of drama and thriller. In the world and in Russia appeared at the box office in 2016. At one time he received an Oscar and a statuette of the British Academy for the best sound, a statuette of Saturn for the script. The film also received positive reviews from critics. However, many users did not understand or misunderstood the meaning of the movie Arrival and its ending. Let’s try to understand the intricacies of the storylines.

Description of the story

The plot of the movie Arrival is based on the short story “The Story of Your Life” by Ted Chan, which was published in 1998.

On a note! Initially, they wanted to give the film a title of the same name to the story. But “The Story of Your Life” as a result of the conducted test polls lost to “Arrival”.


Above the ground, in 12 places around the planet, “shells” suddenly appear – unidentified flying objects of extraterrestrial origin. Trying to understand the reason and purpose of the visit of objects, a special American service involves experienced specialists involved in astrophysics and linguistics. They invite the young linguist Louise Banks, who regularly sees her dead daughter, and the scientist Ian Donnelly.

The couple and other helpers settle in Montana. They maintain contact with other groups in 11 sites around the world. Interacting, they exchange new information that they managed to receive and declassify. Almost every day, the “shells” begin to open up so that researchers can board the flying ships and study them. The ships are alien heptapods, green cephalopods. They contact earthlings with the help of a kind of transparent wall. Giving alien entities the conventional names Abbott and Costello, scientists are trying to explore their language.

On a note! The looped heptapod language was created by production designer Patrice Vermette, science consultant Stephen Wolfram, and his son Christopher, a computer programmer. About a hundred logograms are used in the film.


Over time, the linguist-scientist Louise begins to understand the written language of the aliens and comes into contact with them. Louise interprets one of the alien messages as “use your weapon”. This worries the military. Louise tries to calm the situation and says that this phrase can mean “to use a tool.” Fearing that the intentions of the heptapods are hostile, the US military gets inside the airship and tries to set off an explosion. While Louise is trying to stop the military from destroying the aliens, one of them saves the girl. However, other countries are joining the armed conflict. Contacts between groups break off.

When Louise makes new contact with the aliens, one of them talks about the death of the other. He explains the true purpose of the visit: to help people, to unite countries, because in 3000 years the aliens will ask for help from earthlings. Delving deeper into the matter, Louise also finds out that there is no time frame for aliens. Gradually, the girl also begins to ignore them. She gains the ability to travel through time. Having learned the outcome of a future conflict with an extraterrestrial race, the linguist prevents a large-scale conflict. After their mission is completed, the aliens disappear.

At the end, Ian Donnelly confesses his love to the main character. They talk about life. The girl receives a vision that they are destined to have a child, but since his life will end early, Donnelly will leave.

On a note! Starring Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams have already starred together in American Hustle.

Ending and hidden meaning

As the plot develops, the viewer gets a lot of clues. This is science fiction and the drama consists of closed loops. Upon initial viewing, it may seem that the heroine is remembering the past. But in the final it becomes clear that these shots spoke about the future of Louise. After understanding the non-linear language of the aliens, time for the heroine becomes cyclical, closed.

The passages that show the viewer at the beginning, about how the daughter dies and the husband leaves the main character, are not the past, but something that has not happened yet. Louise saw the future. She knew that she was about to lose a child and a loved one, but she did not change anything. This is how the movie Arrival ended. It is worth pointing out that the hidden meaning of the film Arrival lies precisely in the ending: time is not a straight trajectory. Each person is able to determine his own destiny.

As for the aliens, when one of the aliens dies, for the other this is not the point. This is a stage in the time cycle. It is interesting that the cyclicity is accompanied throughout the film, in particular, at the end of the film Arrival.

The film Arrival is a film that received many positive reviews for its interesting plot and meaning. The meaning of the ending of the film Arrival lies in the independent determination of one’s own destiny, regardless of the knowledge of the results, and the cyclical nature of time.

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