In the movie Arrival, Loiuse, played by Amy Adams says something to the Chinese President, which he claims were his wife's words. I think she is speaking Mandarin but no subtitles are provided. What did she say?

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    I thought it would have been a nice loop back to the beginning of the film if she'd quoted her own book, saying "in war, language is the first weapon we reach for". That would also make sense as "use weapon" was the alien phrase in question. That was my reasoning for him opting not to use subtitles.
    – Kirstin
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 10:21
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    Was he president? I only recall the title of General. Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 5:25

2 Answers 2


According to the blog Thrill List;

The sequence is even more challenging because we're never given the dialogue MacGuffin. Heisserer says Villeneuve debated whether or not to include subtitles for the line. The director opted to revel in the mystery. The writer wasn't as keen on keeping it a secret, and was happy to divulge. As he told the audience at Fantastic Fest, the line translates to: "In war there are no winners, only widows."

"I worked so hard on the dialogue in Mandarin for Denis," Heisserer wrote on Reddit. "Spent weeks crafting the lines that he finally approved! And then that scoundrel goes and doesn't use subtitles in that scene. I guess there's something to be said there about the nature of language. And I love Denis. But he's also a mischievous fox."

Found at: https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/arrival-chinese-line-ending

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    Excellent! And you also answered my future question about why the English subtitles were not used for the Mandarin part. Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 9:33
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    Isn't it just an excellent bit of trivia! Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 9:39
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    isn't it a little short to be the only thing she said?
    – ivcandela
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 23:59
  • There should be something more: 驅子民理應憑赤勇淳愛。戰爭不成就英雄,只留下孤兒寡婦。"Lead the people with bravery and love. In war there are no winners, only widows." It's worth to mention that the Mandarin is so difficult to listen, even for the native speakers.
    – Bemn
    Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 23:42

As far as I know, it goes on the lines of, "War doesn't make winners, only widows."

Source: I had read it in some blog somewhere.

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    Can you add more details , like which blog
    – Panther
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 7:50
  • @Panther Well, this one mentions it.
    – Yakk
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 19:48
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    @Yakk buddy your link is pointing to this question only.
    – Panther
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 8:40

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