by Charissa Roberson
After a nearly year-long delay due to COVID-19, Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated adaptation of the sci-fi epic “Dune,” starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya among other outstanding stars, was released on Oct. 22.
Frank Herbert’s classic novel “Dune” has long been regarded as “unfilmable” in the cinematic world. Previous adaptations fell flat or never got off the ground at all, likely due to the vast scope of the book and the sheer amount of lore and detail it contains. However, Villeneuve’s two-part version, of which 2021’s “Dune” is the first, has already been hailed as the definitive adaptation by none other than Herbert’s own son (Screenrant).
Villeneuve has dreamed of bringing “Dune” to the big screen for about 40 years, ever since he first picked up a copy of the book. His main goal when making the film was to satisfy the teenage version of himself who had first fallen in love with Herbert’s world.
“The idea was to try to make sure that the hardcore fans like me will feel that I almost put a camera in their mind as they were reading along,” Villeneuve said. “And at the same time, making sure that someone that knows nothing about the novel…will understand what it’s about and will not feel lost in the complexity of it” (Variety).
One of the film’s most striking elements is its array of sweeping vistas and grand tableaus, which bring “Dune”’s mythic world to life. To capture the sense of space, both for the actors and the audience, Villeneuve shot either on location or on large-scale sets. Unlike most contemporary sci-fi films, the use of greenscreen was kept to a minimum. A haunting score (courtesy of Hans Zimmer), arresting performances and gorgeous costumes further contributed to the absorbing and alien atmosphere of “Dune.”
The film’s first trailer sparked excited buzz when it was released in September 2020. Not long after, however, COVID-19 rocked the entertainment world. Originally slated for release in December 2020, “Dune” was pushed back along with a host of other films as movie-going became unsafe. Now, after almost a year’s wait, the sci-fi epic has finally arrived in theaters – the place where it was made to be seen.
“If the audience feels comfortable, I encourage them to watch it [“Dune”] on the big screen,” Villeneuve said. “It has been dreamed, designed and shot thinking Imax. When you watch this movie on the big screen, it’s a physical experience” (Hollywood Reporter).
Following the first film’s positive reception, “Dune: Part Two” has now been officially confirmed. Villeneuve is set to continue his mission of seeing Herbert’s seminal sci-fi novel transferred, fully formed, to the big screen. Keep a lookout in 2023, when the sequel is set to premiere on Oct. 20.