Since it was announced at the end of 2012, we’ve been waiting patiently for any actual progress on the upcoming adaptation of Hugo Award-winning writer Ted Chiang’s short story “The Story of Your Life.” And now it looks like all of our voodoo dolls and virgin sacrifices have earned a reward, as Quebecian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve will be taking over directing duties. Thankfully, it wasn’t the aliens who let us know.
Before last year, the acclaimed director was probably best known for his Academy Award-nominated drama Incendies. In 2013 he blew up in the States with his gripping kidnapping drama Prisoners starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman. Though the performances were good and the story was engaging, it was really Villeneuve’s direction that gave the film the atmosphere that made it a success. He also worked with Gyllenhaal on the upcoming doppelganger drama Enemy, which I can’t wait to see. So to say he’s a strong choice to take over a sci-fi drama is an understatement.
The winner of a Nebula Award, “The Story of Your Life” tells the story of Dr. Louise Banks’ life after alien intelligence contacts humanity. The military brings her in to figure out how the communication will work, given the alien’s spoken and written languages are distinctly different from ours. She soon finds that her own tragic past have played a large role in the aliens coming down. It seems like the film would be a perfect bookend to Robert Zemeckis’ Contact, only with a stronger focus on free will and determination.
The Story of Your Life originally went the adaptation route thanks to Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy and his 21 Laps production company. It was supposed to be the feature debut from director Nic Mathieu, who apparently left the project at some point around the time he got attached to direct the Robotech movie, along with the supernatural thriller Spectral. No offense to that guy, but I think Villeneuve is a better choice in this film, which is almost certainly going to be heavy in the mood and atmosphere department.
Eric Heisserer wrote the screenplay for The Story of Your Life. He made his directorial debut last year with the Paul Walker/Hurricane Katrina thriller Hours, which I haven’t had a chance to see yet. Otherwise, he penned the remakes of both The Thing and A Nightmare on Elm Street, so here’s hoping his Story script is cut from a much more dramatically intact cloth, which seems to be the case as it was on the 2012 Black List of unproduced screenplays. Though it would admittedly be kind of cool if they found out the aliens in the story are just a bunch of Freddy Kruegers and Thing monsters.
Production is scheduled for later this year. In the meantime, be sure and pass your eyes across Prisoners if you haven’t yet. Paul Dano gets the shit beat out of him, if that’s up your alley. Here’s the trailer to get you going.