Entertainment

Dune: Denis Villeneuve talks books, Part Two, and the future of cinema

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune seems to top more than a few “best movies of 2021” lists. The sheer scale of the director’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel is astounding and well worth a trip to the movies (if you can safely visit the multiplex).

Villeneuve has been building Dune for a long time. The producer has gone from low-budget Canadian films (like Maelstrom Narrated by a Talking Fish) to mid-budget productions like the thrilling Sicario, Prisoners starring Hugh Jackman and Arrival nominated for Best Picture. . After these successes, he tackled the sequel to Blade Runner, one of the most popular science fiction films of all time. The man likes to be challenged.

Dune is Villeneuve’s biggest film to date, and unlike David Lynch’s attempt at a heralded sci-fi text, the new adaptation is just “chapter one” of a larger story. GamesRadar+ and Total Film sat down with Villeneuve to discuss the film, its themes, visuals, and potential sequel (as yet unconfirmed, but likely). We also briefly touched on the future of cinema in the area of ​​mid-budget cinema. Here is our Q&A, edited for length and clarity.

GR+: You followed Dune Blade Runner 2049. Thematically, both approach the “chosen one” narrative in different ways; Blade Runner’s K is a deceptive “chosen one” and Dune’s Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is a Christ figure, at least in this film. Do you consider the two as complementary pieces? What interests you about the “Chosen One” story?

Villeneuve: In fact, I can say that the “Chosen One” narration does not interest me. What is interesting is that both projects return to this concept, but from a different angle than the traditional figure of Christ. When it comes to Blade Runner, as you say, it’s a mistake. And in the case of Dune, the character of Paul does not want to be part of it. It is a cynical look at the figure of Christ that one feels is simply the product of religious manipulation. He has a critical point of view on this issue and does not adopt this idea. He hardly believes it. Of course, he has the burden of inheritance on his shoulders, but he is afraid to use this power, he questions this power that comes from the colonial powers. He is afraid of being himself, of being an instrument of colonialism. So this idea is very critical.

Why do you think you are interested in critiquing this story?

First of all it’s a metaphor, and it’s something that Frank Herbert wrote in his book Dune as a warning from the Christ figure – that one of the others would be chosen to become a charismatic Christ figure . Dune is a warning about this.

Dune exclusive footage from Total Film magazine

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Dune begins with the promise that this will be “part one”, which implies that “part two” is coming. While it hasn’t been confirmed to be in production yet, has there been any talk of just calling the movie “Dune” without “Part One”?

It was necessary for me. It was always meant to be a two part movie, and it always had to be the “first part” at the beginning because I think it would be misleading and dishonest to claim that the whole story was told in one film. I wanted the audience to understand from the start that they were about to see the first chapter of a bigger story.

The international box office looks promising, but is there a part of you that would have liked to shoot the two episodes in a row?

It was my first idea, to film them together. Then come out one after the other, a year apart, like The Lord of the Rings. But it was very expensive. And frankly, I’m glad it didn’t go the way I wanted because I’d be so tired. In the first, I needed all my stamina – I needed all my energy. Turning back to back in the desert would be too much. I learned a lot [while filming] Part one, if that happens, I can make a better movie with part two. And I’m grateful for the way it is. I’d rather be in this position right now, than regret having done the two films one after the other and being so tired.

What’s so striking about part one is that it’s a mix of being visually grounded and having a big sci-fi feel – you’ve got your bagpipes and your giant sandworms in one movie. How did you approach keeping things grounded without going too Star Wars?

We had time to do it. From the beginning, I told the team that they should only take inspiration from the book. I wanted the film to be as close as possible to the vision I had when I read the book when I was 13, and I wanted the book’s fans to explain as much as possible, to get to know the moods, the world. depicted in the book. I wanted to be as faithful as possible to Frank Herbert. Going back to the original images I had as a child, they were pristine images. It was very helpful in trying to bring something new to the screen. Of course, it took a lot of meditation and study, as so many sci-fi movies have been made in the last decade. The Star Wars series is a huge elephant in the room. The way Star Wars approaches design is beautiful. So we have to find our own identity. It took us time – time and too much thought.

sand hill

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Some images of the spaceship reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. What other basic building blocks did you use?

Its foundations were books and nature. I wanted the technology to be inspired by the settings in the book. For example, I wanted a helicopter, a machine that you think can withstand harsh desert conditions. It’s a believable machine that responds to the laws of gravity and physics. It had to be realistic – feel grounded in reality and free from fantasy. I felt closer to the spirit of the book. I referenced movies I loved and paid tribute to directors I loved. But the design was based on the book.

Speaking of the book, how did you decide which elements to cut and which to keep? For example, Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) thinks Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) might be a traitor in the novel, but it didn’t appear on screen.

I decided to concentrate all the adaptation on the course of Paul. There are of course many characters in the book, but Paul is the central character. I tried to stay as faithful as possible to his point of view and then to highlight his relationship with his mother, who is at the heart of this story. I love the character of Lady Jessica and wanted her dramatic arc to stand out in the story. From there, I made a lot of choices to center the story around the two characters. I had to use wider strokes and if I didn’t focus on the main story it would have been a very long movie, I would have avoided the subplots.

There’s one scene in particular that’s a fan favorite that’s missing from the movie – a dinner scene in which Paul is child-played by a visiting banker. When this particular scene was about Paul, I wonder how far he took it. Was he shot?

This scene was scripted. It has never been filmed. This is a scene that I decided to cut because it didn’t add anything new to the story and the story that I was trying to tell within the structure of the film. This created acceleration problems. I was trying to create a film that was as sincere as possible, and I discovered the book when I was 13.

Denis Villeneuve at the Dune screening

(Image credit: Getty Images)

I have one last question, and it’s in a couple of your films. After making those $40 million mid-tier movies like Sicario, Arrival, and Prisoners, you moved on to big-budget series. Looking at Hollywood today, from my perspective, those mid-range movies wouldn’t necessarily be made by mainstream movie studios. You further watch their release on streaming services. What do you think of the future of mid-range film? Do you think we’ve seen enough?

I remember when I made Prisoners, people around me said, “He doesn’t make movies like that anymore. Small budget or super big budget, there is no middle ground. And I was lucky enough to thrive in that in-between space for a few years, which has become increasingly rare. And I think that’s a problem. I think the future of cinema depends on the creativity of small budgets. The main battle will be to get these films to reach the screen. Big franchise movies are coming to the big screen, but I don’t have the answer yet. I believe in the future of cinema on the big screen and I think it is crucial that all types of cinema have access to theaters, not just big Hollywood films. This is not a crisis that came out of nowhere with the pandemic. It’s been a while since the cinema has become less and less accessible for small films. And frankly I think that’s a problem.


Dune is in UK cinemas from October 21 and in US cinemas from October 22. Dune is also available on HBO Max in select regions. For more on sandworms, check out our guide to Dune books, movies, and TV shows.


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Dune: Denis Villeneuve talks books, Part Two, and the future of cinema

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune looks set to top more than a few “best movies of 2021” lists. The grand scale of the director’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel is simply astonishing – and well worth a cinema trip (if you’re in the position to visit the multiplex safely).
Villeneuve has been building to Dune for a long time. The filmmaker has gone from working on low-budget Canadian features (such as Maelström, which is narrated by a talking fish) to mid-budget hits such as the thrilling Sicario, the Hugh Jackman-starring Prisoners, and the Best Picture-nominated Arrival. Following those successes, he took on a sequel to one of the most beloved sci-fi movies of all time, Blade Runner. The man loves a challenge.
Dune marks Villeneuve’s biggest movie to date – and, unlike David Lynch’s attempt at the heralded sci-fi text, the new adaptation is just “Part One” of a greater story. GamesRadar+ and Total Film sat down with Villeneuve to discuss the movie, its themes, visuals, and the potential sequel (still not confirmed, but looking likely). We also briefly touched on the future of cinema with regards to the mid-budget movie arena. Here’s our Q&A, edited for length and clarity.
GR+: You tackled Dune following Blade Runner 2049. On a thematic level, both tackle the “Chosen One” narrative in different ways, with Blade Runner’s K being a misleading “Chosen One” and Dune’s Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), at least in this movie, being a Messianic figure. Do you see the two as companion pieces? What interests you about the “Chosen One” narrative?
Villeneuve: In fact, I would say that the “Chosen One” narrative is not interesting to me. What is interesting is that both projects are revisiting this notion, but from a different angle than the traditional Messianic figure. In the case of Blade Runner, as you said, it’s a mislead. And in the case of Dune, Paul’s character is reluctant to be part of it. It’s a cynical take on the Messianic figure, where someone feels that he is just a product of religious manipulation. He has a critical view about that and doesn’t embrace the idea. He almost doesn’t believe in it. Of course, he has the burden of heritage on his shoulder but he is afraid of using that power, he’s questioning that power that comes from colonialist forces. He’s afraid of being himself – of being an instrument of colonialism. So, it’s very critical of that idea.
Why do you think you’re interested in criticizing that narrative? 
First of all, it’s a trope, and it’s something that in the book, Dune, Frank Herbert wrote the book as a warning of the Messianic figure – that someone would be chosen among others to lead and become a charismatic Messianic figure. Dune is a warning about that.

(Image credit: Warner Bros)
Dune begins with the promise of this being “Part One”, which implies “Part Two” is incoming. While that’s not confirmed to be in production yet, was there any discussion about simply calling the movie “Dune” without the “Part One”?
For me it was necessary. It was always meant to be a two-part movie and it was always meant to have “Part One” at the beginning because I feel like it would be misleading and dishonest to pretend that it’s the whole story being told in a single movie. I wanted the audience to understand, right from the start, that they were about to see the first part of a bigger story.
The international box office is looking promising, but is there any part of you that wishes you had filmed both parts back-to-back?
That’s what my first idea was, to shoot them together. Then, like the Lord of the Rings, release one after the other, a year apart. But that was too expensive. And frankly, I’m grateful that it didn’t happen as I wished because I would have been too exhausted. During the first one, I needed all my stamina – I needed all my energy. It would have been too much to do both back-to-back shooting in the desert. I learned so much [while filming] Part One that, if ever it happens, I can make a better movie with Part Two. And I’m grateful that it happened in this way. I prefer to be in this position right now than having shot both movies back-to-back and having regrets because I was too tired.
What’s so stunning about Part One is that the visuals are a mix of being grounded and having a big sci-fi feel – you have bagpipes and giant sandworms in one movie. How did you approach keeping things grounded and without going too Star Wars-y?
We had time to do it. I said to the team at the beginning that we should inspire ourselves exclusively from the book. I wanted the movie to be as close as possible to the vision I had when I read the book at 13 years old, and I wanted the fans of the book to, as much as possible, recognize the description, the atmospheres, the world that has been depicted in the book. I wanted to be faithful to Frank Herbert as much as possible. To go back to the original images that I had as a kid, they were these uncorrupted images. That helped a lot to try to bring something kind of fresh to the screen. Of course, it required a lot of meditation and work because there had been a lot of sci-fi movies made in the past decade. The Star Wars series is a huge elephant in the room. The way Star Wars approaches design is so beautiful. So we have to find our own identity. It took us time – time and a lot of thinking.

(Image credit: Warner Bros)
Some of the spaceship shots reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. What were the other foundational building blocks you used?
The foundations were the book and nature. I wanted the technology to be inspired by the environments in the book. For example, the helicopter, I wanted a machine that you believe can endure the harsh conditions of the desert. That is a machine that’s believable and answers to the laws of gravity and laws of physics. It had to feel realistic – to feel grounded in some reality and away from fantasy. It felt closer to the spirit of the book. I made references to movies I love and paid homage to directors I love. But the design was based on the book.
Speaking of the book – how did you go about deciding which elements to cut and which to keep? For instance, Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) feels that Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) may be a traitor in the novel, but that didn’t transpire on screen.
I decided to focus the entire adaptation on Paul’s journey. There are a lot of characters in the book, of course, but Paul is the central figure. I tried to stay with his perspective as much as possible and then to bring into the foreground his relationship with his mother, which is at the very epicenter of this story. I love the character of Lady Jessica and I wanted her dramatic arc to be prominent in the story. From there, I was making a lot of choices in order to focus the story on both characters. I had to use broader strokes and it would have been too long of a movie if I hadn’t focussed on the main storyline, avoiding subplots.
There’s one scene, in particular, that’s a fan favorite and missing from the movie – a dinner scene where Paul is infantilized by a visiting banker. With that specific scene being about Paul, I’m wondering how far you took that forward? Was it shot?
That scene was written. It was never shot. It’s a scene that I decided to remove because, in the structure of the movie, it was not bringing something new to the story and the story that I was trying to tell. It was creating problems with the momentum. I was trying to create a movie that will feel as visceral as possible and I experienced the book when I was 13 years old.

(Image credit: Getty Images)
I have one final question and it takes in a few of your films. You’ve gone from making these mid-level, $40 million budget movies – Sicario, Arrival, Prisoners – to big-budget franchises. Looking on Hollywood today, those mid-level movies wouldn’t necessarily, from my perspective, be made by the classic film studios. You’re more likely looking at them being released on streaming services. What’s your take on the future of the mid-level movie? Do you think we’re seeing enough of them? 
I remember when I did Prisoners, people around me were saying “People don’t make movies like that anymore.” It’s the low budget or super big budget, there’s no middle. And I had the chance to evolve in that medium space for a few years, which became more and more a rarity. And I think it’s a problem. I think that the future of cinema relies on the creativity of lower budgets. The main battle will be to make sure that these movies have access to the screen. The big franchise movies will go on the big screen but I do not have the answer yet.  I believe in the future of cinema on the big screen and I think it’s very important that all kind of cinema has access to the theatres, not just on the major Hollywood movies. It’s not a crisis that suddenly happened with this pandemic. It’s been a while, with the theatre becoming less and less accessible for smaller movies. And I think it’s a problem, frankly.
Dune is in UK cinemas from October 21 and US theatres from October 22. Dune is also available on HBO Max in certain territories. For more on sandworms, check out our guide to the Dune books, movies, and TV shows.

#Dune #Denis #Villeneuve #talks #books #Part #future #cinema

Dune: Denis Villeneuve talks books, Part Two, and the future of cinema

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune looks set to top more than a few “best movies of 2021” lists. The grand scale of the director’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel is simply astonishing – and well worth a cinema trip (if you’re in the position to visit the multiplex safely).
Villeneuve has been building to Dune for a long time. The filmmaker has gone from working on low-budget Canadian features (such as Maelström, which is narrated by a talking fish) to mid-budget hits such as the thrilling Sicario, the Hugh Jackman-starring Prisoners, and the Best Picture-nominated Arrival. Following those successes, he took on a sequel to one of the most beloved sci-fi movies of all time, Blade Runner. The man loves a challenge.
Dune marks Villeneuve’s biggest movie to date – and, unlike David Lynch’s attempt at the heralded sci-fi text, the new adaptation is just “Part One” of a greater story. GamesRadar+ and Total Film sat down with Villeneuve to discuss the movie, its themes, visuals, and the potential sequel (still not confirmed, but looking likely). We also briefly touched on the future of cinema with regards to the mid-budget movie arena. Here’s our Q&A, edited for length and clarity.
GR+: You tackled Dune following Blade Runner 2049. On a thematic level, both tackle the “Chosen One” narrative in different ways, with Blade Runner’s K being a misleading “Chosen One” and Dune’s Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), at least in this movie, being a Messianic figure. Do you see the two as companion pieces? What interests you about the “Chosen One” narrative?
Villeneuve: In fact, I would say that the “Chosen One” narrative is not interesting to me. What is interesting is that both projects are revisiting this notion, but from a different angle than the traditional Messianic figure. In the case of Blade Runner, as you said, it’s a mislead. And in the case of Dune, Paul’s character is reluctant to be part of it. It’s a cynical take on the Messianic figure, where someone feels that he is just a product of religious manipulation. He has a critical view about that and doesn’t embrace the idea. He almost doesn’t believe in it. Of course, he has the burden of heritage on his shoulder but he is afraid of using that power, he’s questioning that power that comes from colonialist forces. He’s afraid of being himself – of being an instrument of colonialism. So, it’s very critical of that idea.
Why do you think you’re interested in criticizing that narrative? 
First of all, it’s a trope, and it’s something that in the book, Dune, Frank Herbert wrote the book as a warning of the Messianic figure – that someone would be chosen among others to lead and become a charismatic Messianic figure. Dune is a warning about that.

(Image credit: Warner Bros)
Dune begins with the promise of this being “Part One”, which implies “Part Two” is incoming. While that’s not confirmed to be in production yet, was there any discussion about simply calling the movie “Dune” without the “Part One”?
For me it was necessary. It was always meant to be a two-part movie and it was always meant to have “Part One” at the beginning because I feel like it would be misleading and dishonest to pretend that it’s the whole story being told in a single movie. I wanted the audience to understand, right from the start, that they were about to see the first part of a bigger story.
The international box office is looking promising, but is there any part of you that wishes you had filmed both parts back-to-back?
That’s what my first idea was, to shoot them together. Then, like the Lord of the Rings, release one after the other, a year apart. But that was too expensive. And frankly, I’m grateful that it didn’t happen as I wished because I would have been too exhausted. During the first one, I needed all my stamina – I needed all my energy. It would have been too much to do both back-to-back shooting in the desert. I learned so much [while filming] Part One that, if ever it happens, I can make a better movie with Part Two. And I’m grateful that it happened in this way. I prefer to be in this position right now than having shot both movies back-to-back and having regrets because I was too tired.
What’s so stunning about Part One is that the visuals are a mix of being grounded and having a big sci-fi feel – you have bagpipes and giant sandworms in one movie. How did you approach keeping things grounded and without going too Star Wars-y?
We had time to do it. I said to the team at the beginning that we should inspire ourselves exclusively from the book. I wanted the movie to be as close as possible to the vision I had when I read the book at 13 years old, and I wanted the fans of the book to, as much as possible, recognize the description, the atmospheres, the world that has been depicted in the book. I wanted to be faithful to Frank Herbert as much as possible. To go back to the original images that I had as a kid, they were these uncorrupted images. That helped a lot to try to bring something kind of fresh to the screen. Of course, it required a lot of meditation and work because there had been a lot of sci-fi movies made in the past decade. The Star Wars series is a huge elephant in the room. The way Star Wars approaches design is so beautiful. So we have to find our own identity. It took us time – time and a lot of thinking.

(Image credit: Warner Bros)
Some of the spaceship shots reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. What were the other foundational building blocks you used?
The foundations were the book and nature. I wanted the technology to be inspired by the environments in the book. For example, the helicopter, I wanted a machine that you believe can endure the harsh conditions of the desert. That is a machine that’s believable and answers to the laws of gravity and laws of physics. It had to feel realistic – to feel grounded in some reality and away from fantasy. It felt closer to the spirit of the book. I made references to movies I love and paid homage to directors I love. But the design was based on the book.
Speaking of the book – how did you go about deciding which elements to cut and which to keep? For instance, Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) feels that Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) may be a traitor in the novel, but that didn’t transpire on screen.
I decided to focus the entire adaptation on Paul’s journey. There are a lot of characters in the book, of course, but Paul is the central figure. I tried to stay with his perspective as much as possible and then to bring into the foreground his relationship with his mother, which is at the very epicenter of this story. I love the character of Lady Jessica and I wanted her dramatic arc to be prominent in the story. From there, I was making a lot of choices in order to focus the story on both characters. I had to use broader strokes and it would have been too long of a movie if I hadn’t focussed on the main storyline, avoiding subplots.
There’s one scene, in particular, that’s a fan favorite and missing from the movie – a dinner scene where Paul is infantilized by a visiting banker. With that specific scene being about Paul, I’m wondering how far you took that forward? Was it shot?
That scene was written. It was never shot. It’s a scene that I decided to remove because, in the structure of the movie, it was not bringing something new to the story and the story that I was trying to tell. It was creating problems with the momentum. I was trying to create a movie that will feel as visceral as possible and I experienced the book when I was 13 years old.

(Image credit: Getty Images)
I have one final question and it takes in a few of your films. You’ve gone from making these mid-level, $40 million budget movies – Sicario, Arrival, Prisoners – to big-budget franchises. Looking on Hollywood today, those mid-level movies wouldn’t necessarily, from my perspective, be made by the classic film studios. You’re more likely looking at them being released on streaming services. What’s your take on the future of the mid-level movie? Do you think we’re seeing enough of them? 
I remember when I did Prisoners, people around me were saying “People don’t make movies like that anymore.” It’s the low budget or super big budget, there’s no middle. And I had the chance to evolve in that medium space for a few years, which became more and more a rarity. And I think it’s a problem. I think that the future of cinema relies on the creativity of lower budgets. The main battle will be to make sure that these movies have access to the screen. The big franchise movies will go on the big screen but I do not have the answer yet.  I believe in the future of cinema on the big screen and I think it’s very important that all kind of cinema has access to the theatres, not just on the major Hollywood movies. It’s not a crisis that suddenly happened with this pandemic. It’s been a while, with the theatre becoming less and less accessible for smaller movies. And I think it’s a problem, frankly.
Dune is in UK cinemas from October 21 and US theatres from October 22. Dune is also available on HBO Max in certain territories. For more on sandworms, check out our guide to the Dune books, movies, and TV shows.

#Dune #Denis #Villeneuve #talks #books #Part #future #cinema


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