After all the hype, all the fanfare and all the decades of fan excitement, Dune was finally released in 2021 to rave reviews from critics and fans across the world. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the film brought in the finest filmmaking talent to bring Frank Herbert’s iconic story to life, enlisting an ensemble cast of actors including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya and Oscar Isaac, as well as the influential modern composer Hans Zimmer to write the score.
Nominated for both Best Sound and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, it’s fair to say that Zimmer did a great job with the project, with the score becoming an instant staple of science fiction greatness.
Speaking to Vanity Fair in a video that deconstructs his time on the project, Zimmer reveals how he approached the project with a totally open mind, stating, “I read the book as a teenager when I was 14 years old and I loved it. I never saw the David Lynch version, I never saw the television version, nor did I hear the music, because I had a sort of a vision and a sound in my head”.
“You want to invite your audience on an adventure. You want to invite them on a journey. You have to do it right in the beginning,” the composer added, with Zimmer doing just this with his unusual soundtrack that combined flutes and throat singing. “We are in a very ethnic sort of landscape. So there is not a lot of wood around on our planet,” Zimmer explained, wanting the sound to feel authentic to the time and place, clarifying, “What we do have we made flutes out of, and I kept saying to Pedro Eustache, my flutist: ‘Don’t play it like a flute. Play it as if it was the wind whistling through the desert Dunes’”.
Nominated for ten Oscars at the 2022 Academy Awards, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is leading the pack together with The Power of the Dog by Jane Campion which has two more mentions with 12 nominations.
Filmed during the Covid-19 pandemic, the process of capturing the movie or the soundtrack wasn’t particularly straightforward, with Zimmer trying to find the positives in an “oddly liberating” experience.
“We could all work in our own environments and we could communicate constantly. Part of the band was in London and part of the band was in Vienna. So it was truly an international way of working,” Zimmer added, with the final result truly feeling like the culmination of many hands, guided by the German composer.