Denis Villeneuve Talks About Reaction To ‘Arrival’ | Film Interview
Arrival was one of the best films of 2016, which probably came as little surprise to those who have followed the recent trajectory of director Denis Villeneuve‘s career, which as been trending upwards after every release, beginning with the powerful Incendies before Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario skyrocketed him towards Arrival and its eight Academy Award nominations.
However, despite his prior success, Villeneuve was hesitant as to how the film would be received publicly. To celebrate the release of the film on DVD and Blu-ray, he recently spoke to CinemaBlend about how during the release of Arrival, he was already completely engaged in pre-production for the upcoming Blade Runner 2049, and thus was almost completely shielded from the hype and praise that surrounded the film.
Villeneuve said: “I couldn’t dream of a better welcoming, the way the movie was received. To be honest, if you had said that to me a year ago that we would be Academy Awards with eight nominations I would have laughed at you. And then maybe insult you!”
“It was such a difficult movie to finish and to do, to find the right pacing. [Editor] Joe Walker and I, we worked so hard, I remember we were like [pretends to pull out his hair]. So when it was released I had no idea how the world would react to that movie”.
Villeneuve mentioned how being preoccupied with another film saved his “mental sanity” and said he hoped to send all future films to cinemas in a similar fashion. It’s an intriguing view into the world of a director, even a hugely successful one, and the stress that comes with the release of your film, your art that you’ve put your heart and soul into, onto the world to judge and dissect.
Especially on a original release like Arrival, not a part of a franchise nor a sequel or reboot, the pressure is heightened as studios get more ruthless and seem intent on making every high budget film a project based on an existing entity, Villeneuve likely felt the weight of flying the flag for high concept original productions.
Arrival‘s plot mechanics and twists and turns also put pressure on the director and Editor, Joe Walker, to make the film as rewatchable as possible, making post-production a gruelling process:
Villeneuve added: “That’s what was so difficult with the movie in the editing room. It’s specifically a movie that needed to work for somebody who sees it the first time, the second time, the third time, the fourth time. It needed to be deep, so in the cut we were not allowed to cheat. So it was a long process”.
Arrival, of course, comes together exceptionally and makes Villeneuve and his crew’s hard work all worth it, but spare a thought for those directors who put in the same hard work only for their film to be maligned or under perform at the box office.
Villeneuve would love to harness that momentum and critical praise heading into Blade Runner 2049 and hope his vision is as well received as it was for Arrival. With his talent behind the camera, and a track record to prove it, we have very little to worry about.
The film is currently scheduled to be released Friday, October 6.