The Ending Montage

Time manipulation as transformation in Film.

Screen Shot 2023-02-13 at 5 00 31 AM

Picture from Blue Ridge Botanic.

As a continuation of Arrival, we will now view the ending montage of the film. What's important to know for this is that Dr. Louise Banks has finally learned the big question of the aliens' arrival: What is your purpose on Earth? Because of this and all her research on their language, she learns that it is not a weapon they bring like many believed, but a tool; their tool and gift is their language, which allows them to see their life holistically from start to finish. Many believe part of the meaning of life comes from its temporality and uncertainty, but this film argues the opposite... sort of.

Time Annotation Layer
0:03 - 0:05 Louise dancing and smiling, seemingly contradicting the narrative people would assume when someone knows the exact trajectory of their lives; leading us to think she might have a different interpretation. General Commentary
0:20 - 0:22 When Ian asks Amy these questions, after finishing the movie, it finds itself in a strange place, as the sentiment of what Ian was trying to say versus the very literal asking of a question are in different places. The sentiment of him saying that she surprises her could still evoke an emotional response no matter if Louise knew what he was going to say. General Commentary
0:33 - 0:37 Louise's response, however, was not very open or obvious to us. She seems to not be surprised herself, funnily, but almost to have a somber reaction. The way I interpret it is as a mental state: knowing where this is going and how this could be a beginning moment, a crux of will and memory as a moment in time. General Commentary
0:40 - 0:46 I think a large point of the contrasting scenes in this ending portion of the film is to represent how many of these moments we deem as so important seem very insignificant either later on or in the larger scheme of things. In the scene prior, she is having a very reflective moment with Ian, but as we jump into the 'future' we get a picture of the carelessness and in-the-moment attitude of happiness and love they experience. General Commentary
1:00 - 1:10 This cross-time, cross-scene parallel as Louise hugs Ian in both the direct aftermath of solving the case and in her romance years later with him, seems to criticize even the other points made, like in the last General Commentary annotation. It calls to question our understanding of moments themselves, as we tend to see them as deeply, very different, but in many ways, like the hug between Ian and Louise, there are a lot of parallels. General Commentary
1:13 - 1:16 Louise and her comment about her memory of being in Ian's arms is strange in a straight-timeline world because she, considering she says it in the scene right after the case with the aliens had been solved, has never been in Ian's arms before. This hints, like the changing time-scenes, at the large part of the plot where Louise has the ability, thanks to her understanding of the new language, to 'see into the future' or for more cohesive terms of the film, she can 'see her life holistically'. So, even though she hasn't, in Ian's perception of time, ever been held by him, she 'remembers', which seems to point to many of the linguistic themes of the film as a 'bad' translation, being in his arms. Maybe, there is even an attempt at labeling this 'bad' translations as a creation themselves to a new or unique understanding of the term itself. General Commentary
1:21 - 1:22 The picture that is, we assume, to be created by the daughter is hanging up on the wall of Ian and Louise's house, and this begs the question of time and memory in a much more 'usual' way in most cultures. We can assume that the daughter, Hannah, drew this image after being told about the story by either Louise or Ian, or both. This seems to give credit to memory in that way, as opposed to the more controversial and non-linear understanding of time they have been hinting at. So, it could either be the film creators' inclusion of an idea other than their own to give it its own credit, or it could be seen as them including that understanding into their more holistic view of time. General Commentary
1:27 - 2:01 This annotation highlights the long period of time that it takes for Louise to answer Ian's question on whether or not she wants to have a baby. This seems to come up multiple times, where we would assume that since she knows that he is going to ask that question, why would it take her so long to respond? It seems to correlate with a larger theme that is emphasized at the very end of the film that we will get to, but the idea, itself, is that having answers to questions doesn't remove their magical or emotional essence. Much of the film, especially considering the language aspect, deals with the importance of teaching the aliens what a 'question' is. This is because, ultimately, the humans want to ask "what is your purpose on earth?" So, this reaction to the question seems to contradict some of the importance and initial response that viewers would have when watching that scene, as now we are being informed that it is the essence of the question, the timelessness of it, not the answer, that makes it beautiful. General Commentary
1:45 - 1:54 During the conglomeration of the daughter's life, this selection seems to be the youngest, apart from the birth we see at the beginning, in the film. The irony of it is that during this 'montage' of her life, this selection of her as a baby is in the middle, and it is surrounded, both before and after, of her as an older child. This seems to add to that friction in moments and time, and the rejection of the timeline. General Commentary
2:07 - 2:10 Before this scene, our relation from all of the scenes in the montage seem to be merely good coordination from the editor of the film, as some of the scenes seem to be in conversation with each other. However, this is the first scene where it seems like Louise smirks as a direct response to the scene that happened prior, though it was technically in the 'future'. This makes the scenes themselves and their presentation serve not only as a portrayal of Louise's life and memory, but also as her presentation of them. General Commentary
2:12 - 2:14 Louise completely embraces Ian, as mentioned before, and her hand grips his hair and head. This seems to represent this larger theme, that we mentioned we would cover in an earlier General Commentary, of completely throwing herself into the moment, as we can assume that if we knew the entire trajectory of our lives we could be easily lost in our understanding of time. This also adds as a critique of viewing time as a line, as it suggests that we are dependent on it to understand our meaning and our place within it. General Commentary
1:01 - 1:09 To further the point, this scene that uses the parallel of the hug brings together again the use of Time-Image by Deleuze. In these two, very independent frames, the film brings them together through music and editing to melt the movement between the images themselves, to form a synchronic, play-like relationship with the linear timeline. General Commentary
0:08 - 0:37 Ian and Louise standing next to each other right after the conclusion of their case with the aliens had ended, as they haven't even left the field where they were doing their work yet. Time scene 2
0:46 - 1:02 Jumping back to the field right after their case has ended, Ian and Louise look at each other and hug. Time scene 2
1:09 - 1:16 Back to scene 2, where they continue to hug like seen before, but conversation continues. Time scene 2
2:05 - 2:13 Jumping to scene 2, and both Ian and Louise are in full embrace of each other. Time scene 2
1:31 - 2:00 This seems to be a conglomeration of time scenes of the daughter of both Ian and Louise's, they are out of order, and in some spaces she is in similar clothing, some different, and also includes scenes where she is at different ages. Time scene 3
0:12 - 0:32 Ian says, "You know I've had my head tilted up to the stars for as long as I can remember." He pauses. Then says, "You know what's surprised me the most?" He pauses again. "It wasn't meeting them," he begins his answer. He looks down and concludes, "It was meeting you." Dialogue
1:13 - 1:16 Louise remembers and says, "I forgot how good it felt to be held by you." This seems Dialogue
1:26 - 1:27 Ian says, "You wanna make a baby?" Dialogue
2:02 - 2:05 Louise replies saying, "Yes... Yeah." Her voice seems shaky and sincere at first, but when she later remarks "yeah", she seems to know the weight of her answer completely and has a confident and firm tone. Dialogue
0:00 - 0:07 Dr. Louise Banks dancing around with wine in her hand, presumably heading in the direction of Dr. Ian Donnelly. The implication of this scene is that it is a good amount of time, maybe years, after their case with the aliens had finished, and they are enjoying themselves together and their new life. Time scene 1
0:38 - 0:45 Louise and Ian are now dancing together, and it seems to be a jump back to the scene with Louise and her wine, but now they are together and dancing. Time scene 1
1:03 - 1:08 Back to scene 1, with the 'couple' dancing together and embracing themselves in a hug, with parallels seen in head placement. Time scene 1
1:17 - 1:23 The lighting and shot change leads us to believe this is back at scene 1, and it is implied that this is the painting by the daughter that shows both Ian and Louise and their experience in the room with the aliens due to the birdcage, as seen in the scenes with the aliens. Time scene 1
1:24 - 1:30 Though it seems that the prior scene was still within the same time as scene 1, the shot goes back to the 'couple' instead of the painting, and the 'couple' hugging and dancing, conversation continues. Time scene 1
2:01 - 2:04 Back to scene 1, and Louise responds to Ian's question. Time scene 1
0:01 - 0:05 Two note repetition; "On the Nature of Daylight" by Max Richter. Score
0:10 - 0:13 Two note repetition; the repetition throughout the piece will be highlighted to show scale of repetition and serve as a use for making an argument about how the music itself plays a role in the film's conceptual authenticity. Score
0:17 - 0:21 Two note repetition Score
0:25 - 0:28 Two note repetition Score
0:33 - 0:36 Two note repetition Score
0:40 - 0:43 Two note repetition Score
0:48 - 0:51 Two note repetition Score
0:56 - 0:59 Two note repetition Score
1:03 - 1:06 Two note repetition Score
1:11 - 1:14 Two note repetition Score
0:47 - 0:49 In the official recording, there is a mistake done by the orchestra at the top of this repetition sequence, and the officials in the film decided to fix it for this note or do a whole different orchestral recording instead. Was it to correct this note? What do mistakes in music add to their authenticity, and this correction adds further content to the discussion of adaptation in art and how it utilizing art can lead to the challenge of its authenticity. Score
1:19 - 1:22 Two note repetition Score
1:27 - 1:30 Two note repetition Score
1:34 - 1:37 Two note repetition Score
1:42 - 1:45 Two note repetition Score
1:49 - 1:51 Two note repetition Score
1:57 - 2:00 Two note repetition Score
2:05 - 2:07 Two note repetition Score
2:12 - 2:16 Two note repetition Score
2:16 - 2:22 Two note repetition that blends together into one note: A question that comes up a lot in film and in art in general is the reality of intention versus the created importance. In other words, for this example, is there intention in the repetition blending into one voice as a commentary for the film itself? Score

IV. The Ending Montage at Internet Archive.

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