With thanks to early feature film efforts Polytechnique and Incendies, French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has quickly climbed the ladder of Hollywood, creating thrillers Sicario and Arrival before his reign as a contemporary master of cinema. After helming Blade Runner: 2049 in 2017, Villeneuve was gifted with the opportunity to bring Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi novel Dune to life.
The most culturally pertinent film of 2021, Dune stars a truly impressive range of Hollywood talent including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem. Though it is also a film that follows in tumultuous footsteps, picking up Frank Herbert’s novel after both Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Lynch failed to seize its potential in the late 20th century.
“I don’t want to compare myself to the two masters,” Villeneuve told Screenrant, adding: “I’m a big fan of their work, I’m like the biggest fan of Lynch, the same for Jodorowsky…but I will say that the key for me was to really make sure that I was as close as possible to the spirit of the book”.
Elaborating on his stance on David Lynch’s 1984 version of the film, Villeneuve was asked by NME if he sought out any advice from the Eraserhead director in the production of Dune. “I never had the chance to talk to Mr Lynch. I would love to. I don’t think he’d be interested to talk about Dune though,” Villeneuve responded.
Continuing, he added: “I don’t think he had a positive experience… He’s a master – one of the best filmmakers of all time and I have massive respect for him, even though I wanted to bring a different sensibility to my version. I tried to stay away from anything that was linked with the Lynch movie”.
Denis Villeneuve’s love for David Lynch didn’t cloud his judgement in the production of Dune, however, with the director noting that Lynch’s influence in cinema actually made it easier to avoid his version. In a conversation with fellow filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, Villeneuve noted, “the fact that David Lynch is untouchable, maybe it was easier. For me, it’s a pure act of love toward the book. It has nothing to do with a comparison”.
Famously, David Lynch looks back with regret at his time on Dune, and when asked in a Q&A: “If you had had final cut how would the movie be different?” Lynch responded, “I don’t even like talking about Dune really”. Continuing, he added, “I’ve said before I knew when I was signing the contract that I was signing away final cut and from that moment I felt like, looking back, I started selling out”.
Take a look at Denis Villeneuve’s brand new vision of Frank Herbert’s novel right here.