Director Denis Villeneuve reveals that Dune was the hardest movie for him to make. Villeneuve has garnered critical acclaim for his past works like Arrival and Blade Runner: 2049. Both of his previous sci-fi films have earned accolades, with the former earning Best Picture and Best Director nods at the Academy Awards and the latter scoring a trophy for Best Cinematography. Still, Blade Runner: 2049 was less than a success at the box office despite the fact that the long-awaited sequel brought back star Harrison Ford for another adventure as Rick Deckard.
Villeneuve’s next feature, though, is a considerably larger affair. Whereas Arrival and Blade Runner: 2049 followed the two main characters of the respective films closely, Dune has an expansive cast of characters and the roles are filled by a star-studded list of actors including Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, and Zendaya. Dune follows Chalamet’s Paul Atreides, heir to House Atreides, as his family moves from their home planet of Caladan to the inhospitable Arakkis (aka Dune), a planet at the center of the universe. Arakkis is the only source of the spice melange, a coveted resource that allows for long-distance space travel and heightened mental abilities. What seems like a normal feudal takeover of the planet evolves into a smattering of betrayals and excommunications, forcing Paul and his mother, Lady Jessica (Ferguson), to flee into the desert.
Villeneuve, who has been working on an adaptation of Dune for several years, told Total Film, that it was the hardest film of his to make. The director had been envisioning his adaptation since he was a teenager and the fear of disappointing his inner-child was at the forefront of his mind throughout the entire process. Villeneuve also cites what he calls a “self-destructive device” inside of him to go for projects that he considers out of his reach, but he calmed himself by using one of the mantras central to Dune‘s plot. Read his full quote below:
It was, by far, the toughest thing I’ve done. There are deep pleasures when there are images that you’re able to achieve that are close to what you had in mind as a teenager; then it’s orgasmic. But the failures are very difficult, because you disappoint the teenager in yourself. As Hans Zimmer [who has scored Dune] pointed out, it’s very dangerous to try to reach one of your oldest dreams.
I have some kind of a self-destructive device inside me to take projects that are out of my reach. [But] I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
It’s no surprise that Villeneuve considers Dune one of the hardest projects to make and not just because of his personal attachment to the film. Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name is widely considered to be one of the best science-fiction books of all time and its expansive world was long seen as unadaptable by many. David Lynch adapted Dune in 1984 and while the film was derided at the time as a failure, it has become somewhat of a cult classic thanks to its irreverent take on the source material.
By all accounts, Villeneuve’s Dune certainly seems to be a more straight-forward adaptation and the director ensured that he would have the time to tell the story properly. Dune will split the novel in half, telling the first part of its story in the October 22 film before completing it in a second film which has yet to be officially greenlit. Of course, the added pressure of being a longtime fan of the source material can induce anxiety, but it also seems to have made Villeneuve even more passionate in ensuring that Dune is everything fans have wanted from an adaptation of Herbert’s novel.
Source: Total Film