Louise sees her future self telling her daughter that she knows something about a forthcoming 'unstoppable' disease and Louise's husband (the child's father) left her when she revealed this to him. She said that he believes she made the wrong choice in some way related to this.

This fact did not seem to be referenced further in the movie. What was this about? Am I failing to read between the lines? Is this her saying that she's going to develop a disease or is the disease the thing the aliens want humanity's help with in 3,000 years?

Was he mad because she knew she had a disease and didn't tell him before they had a baby, so maybe he and their daughter were also infected? It said that the father didn't look at the daughter the same way after he learned about this disease...

  • 8
    She knew her daughter would die of unnamed disease (I believe the imagery we see is reminiscent of terminal cancer patient treatment), and yet she still chose to give birth to her daughter. Her husband could not bear this, and left her.
    – void_ptr
    Feb 18, 2017 at 2:55
  • @void_ptr ooooooo. Yes that makes sense. Please make that into an answer.
    – Hack-R
    Feb 18, 2017 at 2:57
  • 2
    Interestingly, the daughter dies (as an adult) in a rock climbing accident in the short story the movie is based on.
    – Kyle Jones
    Feb 18, 2017 at 3:28
  • @KyleJones oh really? I'm gonna have to check that out. Didn't know there was a short story.
    – Hack-R
    Feb 18, 2017 at 3:35
  • This is a radical failure to understand the movie. The wrong choice is to forge a life with him and have a child with him when she knew the child would die. The aliens want to give humans the ability to see the future so they don't wage war on the aliens 3000 years in the future and force the aliens to destroy them.
    – Jim Balter
    Mar 8, 2020 at 10:59

2 Answers 2


The disease referred to here is something equivalent to a rare form of cancer, which kills her daughter. She in fact asks Ian Donnelly, what would he do?

Dr. Louise Banks: If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

Ian Donnelly: Maybe I would say what I felt more often. I don't know. [Looks up at the sky]

Ian Donnelly: You know I've had my head tilted up to the stars for as long as I can remember. You know what surprised me the most? It wasn't meeting them. It was meeting you.


Dr. Louise Banks had known that their daughter would die of a rare disease and her husband will leave her for it. Yet she decided to have a family.

Dr. Louise Banks: Despite knowing the journey and where it leads... I embrace it. And I welcome every moment of it.


When Ian Donnelly realizes that Louise Banks knew all along that their daughter would die of cancer, he left her.

  • Please check the link in the answer and this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrival_(film)#Plot
    – Vishvesh
    Feb 18, 2017 at 3:12
  • In the first five minutes you watch as Louise Banks (Amy Adams) engages with her daughter over the course of her childhood and then sees her die from cancer.
    – Vishvesh
    Feb 18, 2017 at 3:20
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    @Vishvesh We see her die of something. They never explicitly say that it's cancer. It might be some rare form of cancer, or it might be something else entirely. All we know for sure is that it's rare and terminal.
    – Steve-O
    Feb 18, 2017 at 4:57
  • 1
    Respectfully, I downvoted. You provide no evidence that it was cancer in the quotes you give, and the LA Times is hardly a definitive source. Feb 18, 2017 at 16:28
  • I made a minor edit and then upvoted an accepted it
    – Hack-R
    Feb 18, 2017 at 17:02

The nature of the disease is irrelevant. All that we need to know is that Louise knew her daughter would die of it before she was even born, having "remembered" it happening. This was the reason Ian left, and why he could no longer look at their daughter the same way.

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