Reading the script and the scene-by-scene breakdown, it’s interesting to note some of the content which was written, but didn’t end up in the movie. This almost always happens. Through the magic of actors acting and all of the rest coming to bear on scenes, once the movie starts to get edited together, the director and team realize, they don’t need this scene, that subplot.

For instance, there’s a LOT more going on in the script between Louise and Ian, they have a more ‘traditional’ romance in the sense they have to overcome some hostility, some arguments, even a more demonstrable power struggle over who’s in charge. In the movie, that is cut way back and the effect is to soft peddle the conflict. I’d be curious to see if that other content was shot — I imagine it was — and either didn’t test well with audiences or didn’t feel right during initial edits. My guess is it was a combination of cutting for time and it detracted from Louise’s story which is, after all, the heart and soul of the movie.

In other words, by limiting the amount of conflict between the two, that meant they didn’t have to show scenes / moments where the pair overcome their tensions, and that translates into less screen time overall.

But what I really want to zoom in on is how skillfully the script handles time. Obviously the big twist, but throughout the exploration of non-linear time, the circularity of time, and at each key point tethering those moments of insight to Louise’s flashbacks.

I especially love reading the dialogue in the opening now that I know the twist. Check it all of Louise’s voice-over narration back to back as one side:

“Memory is a strange thing. It doesn’t work like I thought it did. We are so bound by time; by its order. Maybe there’s a higher order. I used to think this was the beginning of your story. I remember moments in the middle. And this was the end. But now I’m not so sure I believe in beginnings and endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived.”

That lays the groundwork for the central theme of time AND provides oodles of tips about the big twist AND sets into motion the nature of the conversation between humans and aliens, all the while telling this gut-wrenching story of the life and death of Hannah… apparently a series of flashbacks.

Brings to mind the married life sequence with Carl and Ellie in the Pixar movie Up.

Both masterfully done.

Anybody else notice some differences between script and screen? Overall thoughts about reading the script or your experience watching the movie? I invite your comments.

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