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Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is introducing his take on Dune, the ambitions big-budget film that adapts Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel. The first trailer shows the sweeping desert landscapes that make up the fictional world of Arrakis, a planet that is home to the coveted natural resource known as spice.
For Villeneuve, who is adapting the novel into two films, shooting on location was a non-negotiable part of his vision, as he wanted to get as close to nature as possible for the film. Studios Warner Bros. and Legendary agreed right away.
“My argument is they didn’t shoot Jaws in the swimming pool,” Villeneuve told Stephen Colbert as part of an event promoting the trailer launch. “You make a movie where the title is Dune, you need to be in the real environments where you are inspired by the infinity.”
The novel helped inspire George Lucas to create the Star Wars universe and is considered one of the more influential works of the genre. Villeneuve penned the script with Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth. The film features a sprawling cast of characters, led by Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides.
“He has a deep intelligence in his eyes and has an old soul … yet he looks so young on camera,” Villeneuve said of his leading man. “The contrast of someone who seems to have a lot of experience but at the same time is in the middle of his teenage years, that’s Paul Atreides.”
Dune also stars Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, Charlotte Rampling and Stellan Skarsgård, as the villainous Baron Harkonnen, whom Villeneuve describes as his “secret weapon.”
“After five minutes onscreen we understand what is his position regarding the Atreides and the difference of the moral values between the Atreides and the Harkonnen,” said the filmmaker. “I used the power of cinema to bring that tension alive.”
In addition to being split into two films, the Dune universe is also spawning a TV show. Dune opens Dec. 18.
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