20 April 2020

Vanity Fair: “Behold Dune: An Exclusive Look at Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and more”

Villeneuve intends to create a Dune that has so far only existed in the imagination of readers. The key, he says, was to break the sprawling narrative in half. When Dune hits theaters on December 18, it will only be half the novel, with Warner Bros. agreeing to tell the story in two films, similar to the studio’s approach with Stephen King’s It and It Chapter Two. “I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie”, says Villeneuve. “The world is too complex. It’s a world that takes its power in details.”

For Villeneuve, this 55-year-old story about a planet being mined to death was not merely a space adventure, but a prophecy. “No matter what you believe, Earth is changing, and we will have to adapt”, he says. “That’s why I think that Dune, this book, was written in the 20th century. It was a distant portrait of the reality of the oil and the capitalism and the exploitation—the overexploitation—of Earth. Today, things are just worse. It’s a coming-of-age story, but also a call for action for the youth.”

Anthony Breznican

If you’ve been following my blog closely, you might have noticed I am a huge fan of the Dune series, finding references to it in the most unexpected circumstances. It was great hearing that a new film adaptation is in the works, but nevertheless I remained cautious about my expectations. I am not really a fan of Denis Villeneuve’s work so far – I’ve watched Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 but came away unimpressed. His films, in my opinion at least, are good at creating a certain atmosphere, but not at dealing with real substance, which makes him unsuited at directing a movie that should be first and foremost about substance and meaning.

Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho in Dune
Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho Photo by Chiabella James

Last week the first set photos from the movie were finally released, and I was left puzzled and disappointed. I never cared for the casting of Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides – these photos make him look like an angsty emo teenager, not the heir of a Great House, trained from birth by the finest fighters and philosophers of humanity. Zendaya looks like a lost little refugee girl, not a fierce desert fighter. In the desert shot, Rebecca Ferguson looks young enough to be Paul’s younger sister. The armor worn by Gurney and the Duke is ridiculously bulky, more suited for the adaptation of a shooter game – or Starship Troopers.

The group shot looks wrong as well: the aesthetic is too sparse and colorless, bland even, the pose as strict as a meeting of fascist generals, as if Villeneuve is recreating the First Order from Star Wars. And since when is Caladan, the Atreides headquarter planet, I quote: lush, Scandinavian-like?! Nevermind the inherent contradiction of calling Scandinavia lush – I guess every place on Earth is lush compared to Arrakis – but in the books, Caladan was a big producer of rice, which in my mind implies a warm, humid planet, not fjords! There’s a lot of talk in the article about the changes Villeneuve is making to expand the role of women in the story, which makes me fear that he didn’t understood the book at all. The only exciting image was, surprisingly, Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho. Before I had some hopes the movie will be interesting to watch, but this has significantly reduced them.

Post a Comment