Denis Villeneuve has garnered the attention of the world again, returning to the landscape of modern cinema with a fresh adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi epic Dune. Although initial reviews have been mixed and Villeneuve has been criticised for creating a boring spectacle, Dune is an interesting addition to Herbert’s legacy as well as the framework of contemporary cinematic techniques.
“It was by far, the toughest thing I’ve done,” Villeneuve revealed. “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.”
While talking about the disruptions in production due to the pandemic, Villeneuve said: “The good news is that it’s going to be released on Earth in theatres and in the United States it’s going to be day-and-date. The enemy right now is the pandemic. It is very difficult for theatre owners and it’s very difficult for everybody, and I did feel with Legendary that it was time to go out. We had postponed the movie for a year due to safety.”
According to Villeneuve, it was a major priority to transform the narrative of Dune into a meditation on feminism and the universally patriarchal structures of power. “For me, it was important to bring more femininity to the story,” he said. “I am fascinated by the relationship of femininity and power, the place of women in society.”
Adding, “[Screenwriter] Eric Roth said, ‘If you had one aspect of the novel you would like me to focus on, what would it be?’ I said, ‘The women.’ The entire story unfolds because of Lady Jessica, because of a decision she made to give birth to Paul instead of a girl [via a breeding programme]. She’s a fascinating character, one of the most influential and most interesting in the novel.”
Denis Villeneuve’s highly anticipated film Dune is released in the UK and the US on October 22 and stars Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Jason Momoa and Dave Bautista.