Denis Villeneuve recently released the latest addition to his celebrated filmography and it has had quite the reception. One of the most highly anticipated films of the year, Dune has been hailed as a modern masterpiece by some while others have criticised Villeneuve for constructing a non-engaging exercise in filmmaking that is visually exquisite but is underlined by an unshakeable emptiness.
After the film’s release, Villeneuve sat down with his contemporary, Guillermo del Toro, to discuss his artistic intentions as well as the difficulties generated by such a massive production. During the conversation, Villeneuve revealed that del Toro is one of the few filmmakers that he can show a finished picture to because he completely trusts him.
While talking about the evolution of film throughout the production process, Guillermo del Toro commented: “The choices you made since you first showed me the movie are so compelling, and they go past the audience unnoticed. There are certain moments in which you want us to experience the exoticism of the location and the technology with the characters.”
The primary purpose of the interview was to figure out Villeneuve’s artistic choice and thanks to it, a lot of the thought processes behind the making of Dune became clearer. According to Villeneuve, the film is designed to replicate the overwhelming feeling of being lost in uncharted territory and it does so extremely well.
“I was trying to recreate an experience I had myself, of finding yourself in the most strange environment while feeling a deep connection to it,” the director responded. “That immersive feeling is one of the things I deeply love about cinema. I think it comes from my youth, when I had the chance to make little documentaries and experimental short films. I was alone with the camera, going through life.”
Guillermo del Toro also brought up an interesting observation that has been made by other critics as well. The universe of Dune is so huge that the audience often feels essential parts of the picture are left out of the frame. The director reported that this was something that the crew struggled with on a daily basis, especially because the world of the film is sprawling.
Villeneuve answered: “There’s something about the fact that the camera cannot grab the world because it’s too big. That was how we approached Dune. There was something about the composition where sometimes things are on the edge of the frame. It’s almost like the cameraman was struggling to capture everything, but it was not possible because the world is so immense. I’m happy you noticed that.”
Adding, “I wanted the movie to be as realistic as possible. My dream was that a scientist could watch it and almost explain it. At the end of the day you’re watching the journey of a man that will be accepted as a messiah. And I love that when you see all his powers, you can explain everything.”