12 September 2021

Dune News Net: “Villeneuve sees Zendaya as a Star of Dune: Part Two”

On the other hand, when I was casting the character of Chani, I met a lot of actresses. Zendaya wanted to audition and now, after shooting the film and seeing what a great actress she is, I regret having her audition, just because I didn’t know her. However that day, she impressed me and when she walked out of the studio I knew that Chani was her, the young desert tiger. I’m honored to present two such explosive talents on screen and I can’t wait to shoot the second part of Dune to have them back together. Knowing that in the next chapter, Zendaya will be the protagonist of the story.

Denis Villeneuve, speaking to la Repubblica (translated from Italian)

It’s possible something was lost in translation during the interview itself, assuming Villeneuve was speaking in English or French. Based on what’s written in Italian on the page though, there is no room for ambiguity. That last sentence states that Zendaya—who said herself that she plays “a small part” in the first movie—will be the protagonist in Dune: Part Two. Marcus Gabriel

The upcoming Dune movie has sparked countless discussions and massive hype – at least on the subreddit dedicated to the series. A relatively recent post linked to an interview with director Dennis Villeneuve about the second part, where he wants to make Chani, Paul’s lover in the novel, a protagonist. I was immediately skeptical of this direction. While Chani plays an important emotional role for Paul as he becomes increasingly isolated among Fremen because of his Messiah-like status, she does little to drive the plot forward compared to other characters. Moreover, she spends a big portion of the second half of the book away from Paul, tending to their first son. I doubt a movie set from her perspective would manage to accurately depict the action up until the final climax. And hearing comments like these from Dennis Villeneuve makes me suspect that he either has a superficial understanding of the book or is arrogant enough to think that he can do a better job than Frank Herbert telling the story.

Another more plausible explanation for his comments would be that he is trying to assure the public that they will see more of Chani (and specifically the actress playing her, Zendaya) in the second movie, as other articles mentioned her presence in the first to be short.

This random comment by Villeneuve made me wonder how would events in Dune play out if Chani would be forced into a more central – and dramatic – role. This is one possible scenario I came up with:

Dune fan posted by @RicoJrCrea
A fan poster by RicoJrCrea

As Paul confides in her about visions of a terrifying Jihad fought in his name by the Fremen, Chani finds herself dismayed, torn between her love of Paul and the terror of this unescapable future for her people and her new-born son Leto II. A dark idea takes hold in the deepest corners of her mind: could this be avoided if Paul were to die, soon, before more tribes gather under his banner?

When she hears that Muad’dib has fallen into a trance and races to his side, that thought steps forward: “This is the moment…” She gently smothers her beloved while crying, with the ardent hope that his Jihad nightmare would die with him and the Fremen may return to their slow, arduous mission of transforming Dune into a lush green world.

But the war machine, once set into motion, is hard to stop: the Fremen now glorify Muad’dib as a martyr, Reverend Mother Jessica fanning their religious fanaticism to avenge two deaths now, her Duke’s and her sons, as the Atreides legacy lives on in the young Leto. With Gurney Halleck as her second in command, Jessica plans their final assault against Arrakeen.

As the Emperor descends upon Arrakis, his Sardaukar forces are shattered, and he agrees to negotiate with the Fremen leaders. Jessica steps forward, followed closely by Chani and young Leto, carrying the Atreides sigil ring. She demands punishment for the Harkonnen betrayal and Dune to be restored to Atreides rule, with her as regent until her nephew comes of age. The Emperor, fearful that his role in this plot could be exposed, orders the immediate execution of the Baron, and passes his title to Feyd-Rautha. Quietly, he ponders how to take control of this formidable army, who so easily managed to overcome his elite forces. He names Irulan Ambassador to Arrakis, quietly instructing her to keep a close eye on the Atreides, lest they try to enact revenge against him when the new Duke comes of age. As their delegation prepares to depart, Reverend Mother Mohiam gives her own secret orders to Irulan: she is to seduce the heart broken Chani and sway her to their side, in case Jessica remains hostile to the Bene Gesserit; the Sisterhood must try to regain control of the precious Kwisatz Haderach breeding program, and test Paul’s son for signs of prescience.

Denis Villeneuve has surmounted this slew of bad omens, by arguably — in filmmaking terms — making the most impersonal adaptation possible. For all his skill and talent, his deftness and subtlety, he acts as just a translator for Herbert’s largely uncompromised original vision, let alone an interpreter or proselytizer. Dune 2021, to register with necessary impact, needs a mind and careening imaginative spirit as reckless as that of its originator.

David Katz

Returning to the upcoming movie, critics have started publishing reviews already. Despite the praises, some have felt the story is left unfinished and unsatisfactory. A very valid criticism from my point of view, considering how the original work has been arbitrarily split into two movies, and the fate of the second half is even now uncertain. I think it’s a huge gamble to start such a massive project without any guarantee that it can be properly finished; some actors may not be able to return, or their limited availability may delay the shooting of the second movie. Aside from previous Dune fans, the wider public will probably lose interest in the story if they must wait another two-three years for a conclusion. Comparing the situation with Lord of the Rings or Marvel’s Avengers is not exactly favorable to Dune: in both cases the sequels were green lit well in advance and were released at one-year intervals. Waiting until late 2023 or most likely 2024 for the second half almost guarantees nobody will care by that point.

As for myself, I had planned to see it in cinemas, but considering the deteriorating situation with coronavirus in Romania, I have no idea how things will stand a month and a half from now. Hopefully cinemas will be open, but I’m not sure I would be comfortable spending more than three hours in closed quarters with many, possible unvaccinated people. No amount of art or entertainment is worth risking an infection.

Post a Comment