When Denis Villeneuve began considering the possibility of making a big-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel “Dune,” he knew a single film would not be enough.
The same sweeping scope and richly detailed world-building that long drew filmmakers to Herbert’s sweeping novel, the story of the battle for dominance over a desert planet and the rise of a reluctant young messiah named paul atreides, was also what made the book so difficult, if not impossible, to tackle in a conventional two-hour-and-switch movie.
Just ask David Lynch, who disowned his ill-fated 1984 adaptation of Herbert’s novel after it flopped at the box office. Or Alejandro Jodorowsky, who in the 1970s spent years and millions of dollars in pre-production costs to develop his own wildly ambitious “dune” fantasy, only to have his heart broken when it faded into nothingness (an effort doomed to death). failure narrated in the 2013 documentary “jodorowsky’s dune .”)
From the beginning, Villeneuve had made it clear to the film’s backers, Legendary Entertainment, that he would only accept “Dune” if he could split the book into two films, and with visions of a franchise dancing in their heads, Legendary agreed. quickly.
Now, with the long-awaited first installment in theaters and on HBO Max, Villeneuve and his cast and crew, along with millions of die-hard “Dune” fans, are eagerly awaiting the official go-ahead so they can finish the story.
“We all call each other all the time: ‘Have you heard anything?'” says the film’s production designer, patrice vermette. “They can’t leave us hanging.”
in a recent interview with deadline, warnermedia strongly hinted that there will be a sequel coming soon: “will we get a sequel to ‘dune’? if you watch the movie you see how it ends. i think you already know the answer to that.”
but where could the story go in the second part? For those who haven’t read the book, and for those who have, Villeneuve and his team shared some pointers with the times.
(Warning: There are plot spoilers for both the original book and the new film version of “dune”. If you are unfamiliar with the material, please read our review or this article on the development of the movie. first and then back.)
“dune: part one” essentially ends at the midpoint of herbert’s book, with the villainous harkonnens having retaken arrakis by force and paul (timothée chalamet) and his mother, lady jessica (rebecca ferguson), escaping and being kidnapped by desert-dwelling Fremen.
While Paul has been accepted into the tribe after defeating one of its members in hand-to-hand combat, he has yet to prove himself to be the messiah the Fremen have long awaited. Jessica wishes to see her son, who is now the head of House Atreides after the death of her father, Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac), taken from Arrakis to safety. But in the Fremen, Paul sees a fearsome army that could reclaim the planet from the Harkonnens and help fulfill his father’s dream of forging a powerful alliance that could make Arrakis a paradise.
“my father didn’t come here for riches, but for the power of his people,” paul tells the tribe. seeing a fremen riding on the back of a huge sandworm, he remembers the words he said to him: “power of the desert”.
“This is just the beginning,” says the young Fremen warrior Chani (Zendaya), as she and Paul walk toward the dunes, a line that doesn’t appear in the book but is as good a note as she could wish for. to end a suspense.
Without delving too deeply into book spoilers, the rest of Herbert’s novel recounts the bloody fulfillment of Paul’s messianic destiny as his honed Bene Gesserit mental powers grow and his bond with Chani and the rest of the Fremen is severed. dig deeper, drawing them into battle not only with the Harkonnens but also with the emperor yet to be seen.
“god knows there’s a lot of story left to tell,” says eric roth, who co-wrote the screenplay for “dune” with villeneuve and jon spaihts. “A lot of [the sequel] will be related to the Fremen and what their political strategies are. you will enter the relationship with paul and chani. And then, of course, there’s always the villain.”
ah, yes, the villain. Some fans of the book may be surprised by the relatively small role that Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and his sinister clan have in the first film. But Villeneuve says this was by design to keep the story balanced; he suggests that the bad guys will figure more prominently in the sequel.
“This movie is really about Paul,” says Villeneuve. “I brought a bit of the harkonnens just for context, to understand the geopolitics of the story. these are choices that were made to make sure that the first movie had momentum and was visceral and didn’t suffer from too much exposure. I had to optimize it to make sure I found the right balance, and the way we did that was to focus on paul and jessica. there will be a lot more about the harkonnens in the second movie.”
Other characters who received little attention in the first film, such as Mentats Thufir Hawat and Piter de Vries, could also get more screen time in a sequel. And characters left out entirely, like the Baron’s scheming nephew Feyd-Rautha, memorably played by Sting in Lynch’s film, could take center stage.
“there are some characters that are less developed and I keep them for the second film; That’s how I found my balance,” says Villeneuve. “We tried in this movie to stay as close to Paul’s experience as possible. then, in the second one, I’ll have time to develop some characters that were left a bit to the side. that’s the theory. I hope it works.”
Looking to the future, the “dune” universe offers almost limitless possibilities for legendary and warner brothers. After the success of the first book, Herbert went on to write five additional “Dune” novels; Since then, his son Brian has co-authored more than a dozen additional books and story collections in the ever-expanding saga, not to mention the video games, graphic novels, and other ancillary projects. If you want to get a quick idea of how vast the “duna” universe has become, take a scan through the full list of characters compiled on the “duna” wiki.
Along with the potential “dune” sequel, a spin-off series called “dune: sisterhood” that will focus on the bene gesserit order is already in development for hbo max. and more projects may be on the way.
“As a narrative universe, ‘dune’ has extraordinary potential,” says spaihts, who was originally going to executive produce “dune: sisterhood” but left the project to focus on the “dune” sequel. “This is a universe of 10,000 worlds, with civilizations spanning millennia and many schools and tribes of people caught up in political intrigues, spiritual quests, battles, and ancient vendettas.
“You could tell stories in this universe forever,” he adds. “But I think fate tempts us to plan so far into the future.”
So, in a way, looking to the future and tempting fate is what “dune” is all about.