Finally, the end of our wait for dune is in sight. With sci-fi maestro Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) behind the latest adaptation of Frank Herbert’s beloved sci-fi epic, the project stands as one of the most anticipated films of the decade, especially given the long and complicated history of the property.
This dune will encompass only the first half of the heady novel, with the later half scheduled for a future second installment of the film. Villeneuve said of his choice to tell the story this way: “I wouldn’t agree to do this adaptation of the book with just one movie. The world is too complex. It’s a world that takes its power in its details.” The director had a lot of work for him with Dune, saying, “It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” but, tantalizingly, he too said, “dune is by far the best film I’ve ever made.”
Originally scheduled to be released on December 18, 2020 before being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dune will finally debut in theaters on October 22, 2021. Perhaps that gave him the time he needed to finish the novels? maybe not. Either way, be sure to study everything we know about the film adaptation thus far, all of which suggests that Villeneuve’s blood, sweat, and tears will pay off.
so what is dune really about?
Published in 1965, Herbert’s Dune is the world’s best-selling science fiction novel of all time. It is also considered one of the greatest books of all time, as well as a seminal work in the science fiction genre. The book is set in the distant future, in an intergalactic feudal society where powerful noble houses fight for control of resources, armies, and planetary power. Paul Atreides is the heir to the powerful House of El, whose Duke Leto rules the planet Caladan. house atreides is ordered to take control of arrakis, a barren desert planet with a brutal climate, but it is the only place to mine melange, a natural resource that produces a drug called spice, which allows humanity to unlock their minds so they can Act. highly complex tasks.
On Arrakis, however, Duke Leto is betrayed by the Emperor and his rival House Harkonnens, sparking a battle for the valuable planet of Arrakis. The planet itself is inhabited by giant sandworms and a native population known as the Fremen, who, for generations, have learned to survive on water as their most precious resource and currency. When Paul is chosen as a potential messiah to lead the planet and the galaxy into a new age, an epic story of war, betrayal, and mysticism unfolds.
why was it so popular?
well, upon its release, dune received a ton of critical acclaim and won the hugo award and nebula award for best novel. started an entire series that included five sequels. the book itself was considered groundbreaking for its unique depiction of the future that tackled complex issues of environmentalism and gender dynamics. It was also hailed as the seminal work of a generation fascinated with psychedelics, as the spice in the plot resembles a drug that helps the user reach untapped areas of the mind.
villeneuve shares this view of the novel as a profoundly prophetic portrait of the world we currently inhabit. he said of dune’s thematic resonance, “no matter what you believe, the earth is changing and we will have to adapt. that’s why i think dune, this book, was written in the 20th century. it was a distant portrayal of reality. of oil and capitalism and the exploitation—the over-exploitation—of the land. today, things are worse. it’s a coming-of-age story, but it’s also a call to action for youth.”
if it was that important, has it been made into a movie before?
Well, yes, and that’s exactly what’s so controversial. There have been many attempts to adapt Dune for the screen over the decades, the most famous being by movie genius David Lynch in 1984. That version was a massive flop, both critically and commercially, and is considered one of the biggest flops ever. great in the history of cinema. Ridley Scott, Peter Berg, and even Frank Herbert’s son have made other attempts, but none made it to production.
A disappointing miniseries version was released on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2004, but no film adaptation remains that has done the book justice. due to its scope, and the complex internal dialogue and depictions of psychedelic visions, many critics have deemed the book impossible to adapt into a film.
so can we get a good dune movie?
well, that this is being directed by denis villeneuve, whose fantastic arrival was nominated for best picture at the oscars and blade runner 2049 was a visual marvel, it’s very promising. villeneuve has proven more than capable of adapting time-bending narrative structures in movies (arrival) and creating visual masterpieces (2049, which included stunning scenes that would make for a very gripping dune). The stakes are also deeply personal for Villeneuve, who revealed to Empire, “It’s not easy to bring your teenage dreams in front of a camera. the teenager that I was was really a great dreamer. I had to try to please that guy. it’s all the pressure of making sure I don’t let the dream down.”
who will be in the new dunes movie?
The casting news is also very promising. Timothy Chalamet will play Paul Atreides, a young man “on a hero’s journey that he didn’t sign up for,” as Chalamet puts it. Villeneuve describes Chalamet as an “old soul,” saying he “has crazy charisma. Timothy has been gifted by the movie gods.” Rebecca Ferguson is Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica. Oscar Isaac is his father, the Duke Leto. atreides. stellan skarsgård will play the villain, baron vladimir harkonnen. villeneuve has promised a new take on the baron, created with full-body prosthetics in this adaptation, saying: “although i deeply love the book, i felt that the baron flirted very often with the caricature. I tried to bring a little more dimension to it. That’s why he brought Stellan. Stellan has something in her eyes. you feel that someone is thinking, thinking, thinking, that there is tension and calculating inside, deep in the eyes. I can testify, it can be quite alarming.”
dave bautista is the nephew of the baron, glossu rabban. zendaya is chani, an important woman in her freman tribe. Javier Bardem is in talks to play Stilgar, the leader of the Fremen tribe. and Josh Brolin joined the cast as Gurney Halleck, a minstrel warrior. Jason Momoa will join the film as Duncan Idaho, a skilled swordsman for House Atreides. momoa described the film as “a very grown-up movie, but a very beautiful one.”
how does this dune update the original material?
As with any work of mid-century science fiction, Herbert’s view of gender dynamics, while progressive at the time, may seem outdated in 21st-century eyes. Villeneuve has worked to modernize the women of Dune, expanding the role of Lady Jessica and even changing another character’s gender.
ferguson said of the new and improved lady jessica, “she’s a mother, she’s a concubine, she’s a soldier. denis was very respectful of frank’s work in the book, [but] the quality of the bows for much of the women They’ve been taken to a new level. There were some changes he made, and now they’re beautifully portrayed.” Villeneuve, for his part, commented that he didn’t want Lady Jessica to be “an expensive extra” like she was in previous adaptations of Dune. “One thing I deeply love about the book is that there was a strong balance between male power and female power,” Villeneuve told Empire.
as for dr. liet kynes, the leading environmentalist on arrakis, villeneuve has portrayed the character not as a white male, as kynes is traditionally portrayed, but as a black woman. Sharon Duncan-Brewster, the actress who plays the role, spoke forcefully about the change: “What Denis has told me is that there was a lack of female characters in his cast, and he had always been very feminist, pro-women and wanted to writing the role of a woman this human being basically manages to keep the peace between many people women are very good at it so why can’t kynes be a woman why shouldn’t kynes be a woman in In another interview, Duncan-Brewster noted that “Frank Herbert wouldn’t have minded.”
dune 2, the film that covers the second half of the novel, will go even further in adapting herbert’s vision. In a new interview, Villeneuve revealed that Dune 2 will focus on Chani de Zendaya, as opposed to Paul Atreides: “I can’t wait to shoot the second part of Dune to get [timothée chalamet and zendaya] back together, knowing that in the next chapter, zendaya will be the protagonist of the story”. chani is the daughter of kynes; she also forms an important bond with stilgar. In the second half of Herbert’s Dune, Chani takes center stage, introducing Paul and Lady Jessica to the Fremen way of life. Paul’s mysterious visions of Chani also keep her front and center in the story. zendaya said about her character: “she is tough and very direct. she is already evaluating paul and is not quick to trust.” Although Dune 2 is still a long way off, and little is known about the film’s production status or release date, a Chani-centric story bodes well for the future of the franchise.
what’s happening in the trailer?
A full-length trailer opens with zendaya chani discussing the dangerous state of life on arrakis, describing the “cruelty” of outsiders who ravage the planet to extract its rarefied spice. Next, we cut to Paul, who confides in Duncan Idaho that he’s been having mysterious dreams of a girl on Arrakis. “Dreams make good stories,” Duncan replies. “everything important happens when we’re awake.”
When the Galactic Emperor calls upon House Atreides to bring peace to Arrakis, Paul and Chani meet for the first time. “I know you,” Paul says. “There’s something waking up in my mind.” With the support of a member of the Bene Gesserit, a secret matriarchal order with superhuman abilities, we see Paul enter his destiny on Arrakis, facing off against the brutal Harkonnen dynasty for control of the planet. Shit breaks out fast, flames consume the landscape, and Paul says, “This is an extermination. They’re taking out my family one by one.”
but entering the destination is not an easy road for paul. “What if I’m not the future of House Atreides?” he confides in his father, who replies, “a great man does not seek to lead. he is called to do so. but if your answer is no, you will remain the only thing i needed you to be: my son.” we then see the action pick up speed, with paul running away from a sandworm and launching into close combat. the trailer promises a visually stunning sci-fi epic, bound to satisfy fans and newcomers alike.
when is it supposed to come out?
Dune was originally scheduled to hit theaters on December 18, 2020. In December 2020, Warner Brothers announced that Dune would hit theaters and HBO Max simultaneously on October 1, 2021, along with the entire slate of studio films for the year. Villeneuve penned a scorching essay on the decision at Variety, writing, “There is absolutely no love for the movies, or for the audience here. It’s all about the survival of a telecommunications mammoth, one that currently owes an astronomical debt of over $150 billion. so while dune is about cinema and audiences, at&t is about its own survival on wall street. with the launch of hbo max a flop so far, at&t decided to sacrifice warner bros’ entire the 2021 list in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention.”
but even villeneuve can’t fight wall street. Most recently, Dune was pushed back three weeks to October 22, as part of a release date shakeup that also affected the many Newark Saints and Cry Macho. (it will still be released simultaneously in theaters and on the streaming platform). We’ve waited so long, spice jockeys, we can hold out for three more weeks.