Arrival's big twist is that most English-speaking viewers won't understand this life-or-death line -- it's uttered with only minutes to go, in Chinese, and without subtitles. Luckily, at the Alamo Drafthouse's Fantastic Fest premiere of the movie, Heisserer was more than happy to divulge the translation -- but first he wanted us to know how he got there.
Arrival was a passion project for Heisserer, who adapted the meditative drama from the award-winning novella Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, one of the greats of modern science fiction. He spent nearly a decade pitching a faithful movie to producers (i.e., no lasers, no explosions, no blockbuster accoutrements) until someone finally bit. "I had committed to telling a cerebral science fiction story with a female lead, tackling linguistic relativity, Bayes' Theorem, Snell's Law," he later said in a Reddit AMA. "I didn't know if anyone besides me would be as fascinated and emotionally invested in the material as I was with Ted's story, but I couldn't get it out of my head or my heart."