Years before we stepped into a galaxy far, far away – and long before we became embroiled with the regal drama of Westeros – there was Dune.
One of the most influential sci-fi texts of the 20th century, Frank Herbert’s critically acclaimed Dune was published in 1965, and would go on to win the prestigious Hugo Award the following year.
Decades on, and we can still feel its impact within the worlds we’ve come to love and find escape in, from Game of Thrones to Star Wars to Alien.
Politically and philosophically complex, and with world-building you can almost feel develop beneath your feet, Dune set the gold standard for intelligent, imaginative fantasy storytelling.
Now a brand new film version is on the way, and it looks set to be an absolute belter. Starring Timothée Chalamet as protagonist Paul Atreides, the stellar cast also includes the likes of Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista and Javier Bardem.
Vanity Fair got its hands on the first-look photographs of the cast in full character, revealing a striking array of costumes against dusty desert backdrops.
These pictures are behind-the-scenes shots, not stills from the actual movie. However, we already get a sense of what this movie will look like; the earthy tones mixed with a space-age dreaminess. The sense of conflicting powers crackling below the surface, a far cry from David Lynch’s 1984 movie adaptation of the book.
Speaking with Vanity Fair, director Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2019, Arrival) revealed the film would be released in two distinct halves, explaining that the ‘world is too complex’ for the narrative to be trimmed into one neat, cinematic sitting.
Villeneuve told Vanity Fair:
It’s a book that tackles politics, religion, ecology, spirituality — and with a lot of characters. I think that’s why it’s so difficult. Honestly, it’s by far the most difficult thing I’ve done in my life.
Villeneuve also spoke about the contemporary significance of the film, which explores many of the same dilemmas we as a planet are currently contending with:
No matter what you believe, Earth is changing, and we will have to adapt. That’s why I think that Dune, this book, was written in the 20th century.
It was a distant portrait of the reality of the oil and the capitalism and the exploitation — the overexploitation — of Earth. Today, things are just worse. It’s a coming-of-age story, but also a call for action for the youth.
For those who are unfamiliar with the plot and premise of Dune, the novel is set around 20,000 years in the future, with humans having spread out and colonised planets far beyond Earth.
We as readers, and now as viewers, follow the story of Paul (Chalamet) who moves to the desert planet of Arrakis as a teenager with his high-ranking family.
Paul goes on to discover leadership qualities and superhuman powers, which ultimately propel the narrative forward and introduce various moral and wide-ranging dilemmas.
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#DUNE FIRST LOOK: Welcome to Arrakis. Filmmaker Denis Villeneuve will bring Frank Herbert’s legendary sci-fi novel to life with not one, but two epic films: “I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie,” Villeneuve tells V.F. “The world is too complex. It’s a world that takes its power in details." At the link in bio, get an exclusive first look at Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Ferguson, and more in the upcoming adaptation. 📸: Chiabella James / @dunemovie
Despite plenty of exciting potential, the genius of Dune has so far proven difficult to bring to fruition on the silver screen.
David Lynch originally made a movie version of Dune back in 1984, but it was not well received. While a Dune miniseries from 2000 enjoyed some success, however there has yet to be a version that fans of the book hold close to their hearts.
Dune is set to be released in cinemas from December 18.
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Topics: Film and TV, Alien, Denis Villeneuve, Dune, Game of Thrones, sci-fi, Star Wars, Timothée Chalamet
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Behold Dune: An Exclusive Look at Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and More