WTF is happening with Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’?
Buckle up sci-fi fans, the film version of Dune has a release date: November 20, 2020. Originally the landmark science fiction doorstopper novel by Frank Herbert, Dune captured the imagination of countless sci-fi creators, including George Lucas and the upcoming film adaptation’s director, Denis Villeneuve.
Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation has been in the works for a couple years. The auteur behind films like Arrival and Blade Runner:2049 is excited about the project. He is a lifelong Dune fan after reading the book and seeing David Lynch’s film adaptation. In interviews, Villeneuve stated he would drop everything to work on Dune.
We’re excited too. Denis Villeneuve puts years into a project, meaning his version is likely to be rich. So far, he’s worked nonstop on creating Dune, selected authentic film locations & talented actors, and poured his heart and soul into it. With the film scheduled to shoot soon, here’s all we know to expect from the upcoming film.
The film is a big financial gamble
While the studio is remaining hopeful by providing a big budget, fans still speculate if Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is going for broke. Sci-fi doesn’t seem to be a big gamble in today’s age of blockbuster superhero and Star Wars films, but space opera book adaptations don’t fare well. John Carter is a recent example.
Possible sequels already in the works
Despite the box office risk, there is a sequel and an HBO Max series waiting to be greenlit if Denis Villeneuve’s movie does well. Villeneuve did not want Dune to be a single movie. In an interview with Vanity Fair, he expressed that the story was too complex to faithfully condense it into one film.
It’s rooted in the David Lynch version
From released stills, the wardrobe in Denis Villeneuve’s film is influenced by David Lynch’s adaptation. The stillsuits (special suits worn in the desert to protect from the elements) are parallel to Lynch’s version and look medieval. A hallmark of space operas, the lavish costuming reflects medieval inspired politics combined with alien technology.
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune and Star Wars
Denis Villeneuve enjoyed the other well-known space opera, Star Wars. He picked director of photography Greg Frasier for his work on Rogue One, noting its exceptional storyline and visuals. While Villeneuve is a massive fan of the first two Star Wars films, he despises Return of the Jedi for being too commercial.
It’s beautifully shot
Denis Villeneuve chose natural locations to film in rather than relying solely on blue-screen. These include fjords in Norway and the desert in Jordan. Jordan was also picked for its ties to the epic film Lawrence of Arabia. Like Dune, it touches on themes of empire, imperialism and heritage.
From stills we’ve seen, including one of protagonist Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) walking on his ancestral planet before being exiled, the color palette is muted and sophisticated. The designs are rooted in realism to really make Denis Villeneuve’s Dune come alive.
Kynes’ casting is gender-bent
In the David Lynch version of Dune, Kynes, the Dumbledore of the series, was played by the late, great Max von Sydow. In Denis Villeneuve’s version, Kynes is played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster. Villeneuve deliberately sought out a woman to play her.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Villeneuve expressed that he wanted to rectify the lack of female characters in Dune. He also wanted to expand the roles of existing female characters like Lady Jessica. The update should also resonate with modern audiences.
That bit about it being rooted in the Lynch movie is untrue. Aside from the stillsuits not looking similar AT ALL, here’s a quote from Denis himself back in 2017:
“David Lynch did an adaptation in the ’80s that has some very strong qualities. I mean, David Lynch is one of the best filmmakers alive, I have massive respect for him. But when I saw his adaptation, I was impressed, but it was not what I had dreamed of, so I’m trying to make the adaptation of my dreams…It will not have any link with the David Lynch movie. I’m going back to the book, and going to the images that came out when I read it.”June 4, 2020