The ending of Arrival (2016) seems to me to be an argument for the pro-life movement and I've seen several opinion articles claiming the same thing.

For Example - New York Post: Amy Adams In Arrival Is A Pro-life Heroine For The Ages

But my question is, was this message intended either by the creator of the movie and/or the author of the original short story? Or is this all just an example of confirmation bias?

2 Answers 2


IMHO there is no pro-life message in Arrival, and media claims to the contrary are attempts to create click-bait controversy.

Here's the best evidence: the director Denis Villeneuve has said "I was honestly afraid that because of the nature of the story, it could be seen as a pro-life movie, which is not for me." (In that article, Villeneuve also says that in his view, Amy Adams's character did not have a choice about having the baby... he thinks her visions showed her the future but did not empower her to change the future.)

For another thing, abortion is never an issue for Amy Adams's character. She does not face a decision about whether she should carry a pregnancy to term... instead, she learns about her child's fate before she is pregnant, so the choice she faces is whether to conceive.

Even if she had been pregnant, her dilemma would sharply contrast with the typical woman considering abortion because only a tiny percentage of abortions are due to the child's health (this source puts it at less than 1%). Therefore her character would make a lousy example for the pro-life movement, which is generally more focused on preventing the much more common "elective" abortions.

Finally, the movie has a clear and obvious primary message advocating for peace through international cooperation. Without knowing anything else about the the filmmakers' politics, I'll just observe that people who believe in this primary message are almost always also pro-choice, not pro-life.

  • While I agree with the answer, I think you're on the wrong path with "she learns about her child's fate before she is pregnant, so the choice she faces is whether to conceive". Regardless of whether it's before or after conception, the point is that it (allegedly) explores the ability to decide whether your child's life is going to worth living (and Louise allegedly chooses pro-life). While it's not about the medical act of abortion, it is about the philosophical idea of preventing a child from being born. But I do agree that the movie is not making a political statement.
    – Flater
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 15:13

As a person living in Middle East, I think the meaning and conception of a movie or many other forms of art is personal and depends on many different elements such as place of living, conditions growing up and overall, the meaning of life in general (we call this "geographical force" or "Jabr e Joghraphia" in Persian).

I live in Iran and as you may know, we have many limitations regarding politics and personal freedoms. Being pro-life or not doesn't have significant value in my moral system. It is just choices. In my opinion, the concept of this movie is about choices that we all take regarding different aspects of our lives. THE CHOICE. Our awareness prior to our choice, its consequences, our information regarding these consequences and inevitability of these consequences. I think the important question is: would we make the same decisions if we knew for sure the consequences?

I think Amy Adams' character may or may not be pro life, but she just made a decision and decided to bring someone to this world that she knows she will have cancer (or some other incurable decease) and she will be dead in young age, but she chose to taste the motherhood, its joy, and she wanted to start a journey and she know that it would end in sad situation. I think she made a choice just for herself, not thinking about husband or the child herself, and I admire her for that. Sometimes self-centered decisions may add some value in our lives but it takes more discussions way more complicated.

The movie may share a pro-life message, but I think it's whole concept built on the importance of choice.

  • 2
    Thanks for taking time to answer, but I am specifically interested in sources stating the film maker's intentions on this topic.
    – sanpaco
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 8:03
  • 3
    Hello and welcome! This really doesn't answer the question that OP is asking. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 8:27

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