'Arrival' Editor Joe Walker Says Playing with Time Was the Film's Greatest Challenge and Opportunity

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production sound mixer Claude La Haye and editor Joe Walker speak to

Sound and Picture 

about their work on Denis Villeneuve's masterful sci-fi film.


Time. Definitely time," Walker says about what drew him most to the story. "I thought, as an editor,


a real opportunity, it’s a huge preoccupation of mine...

When you structure the narrative in an interesting way, I start to get excited because that’s our superpower as editors, to get to play with flash-forwards and flashbacks and simultaneous time, cross-cutting, juxtaposition. When I read the script for


I was very moved by it, but it was also a puzzle piece, which was interesting. I think the fundamental thing was just this idea of a flash structure — the timeline of translating the Heptapods and the world sinking into paranoia and tension, marbled through with glimpses of a child’s life. I felt this would really lift off the page, and indeed in the hands of the wonderful [DP] Bradford Young, they shot some remarkable stuff. Nearly everything with the mother and the daughter at the lakeside was very free — there was a lot of documentary-style footage which could go anywhere in the film. So I basically had tremendous freedom to craft something that made sense of it all. I thought that was a great challenge and a beautiful opportunity."

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