Book-to-film adaptations have been common for quite some time now; a writer develops a finely executed novel and then those in the film industry bring it to life on the big screen. Film adaptations range in accuracy and quality: some stay true to the original narrative, a few push the concepts even further to unforeseen places, and others diverge from it completely.
Director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is the latest example of a book-turned-film, based on the 1965 science-fiction novel of the same name written by Frank Herbert. In the book’s 412 pages, Herbert crafts an intricate new world (a desert wasteland planet called Arrakis) and peppers in even more complex characters. The piece of work is a best-seller for a reason; it attests for imagination in its purest form, and how Villeneuve aims to accomplish creating a motion picture is worth some reflection. It’s necessary to mention that this is not Villeneuve’s first tango with science-fiction work; given his past work with the notable Blade Runner 2049, he will likely satisfy viewers with his flavorful adaptation of Dune.
By undertaking such a large body of work, there is plenty of research that must be done for logistics and general understanding. One instance of this would be Villeneuve’s deep dive into the world of stunts; he works closely with the entire crew, but in regards to stunts, he has developed a new means of combat in coordination with the stunt director and choreographers. He describes this as “a chess game” rather than a fighting sequence, since characters have to anticipate strikes by planning beforehand and distracting their opponents.
Within the trailer, there seems to be a copious amount of these fight scenes, as well as stellar special effects and a carefully picked all-star cast: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, and so many more. The team combats against the canon of Herbert’s work: a giant worm-like creature that lives underneath them on the desert planet. When creating this creature in conjugation with the special effects team, Villeneuve wanted it to seem as realistic and believable as possible given the context of the film. This obligation for an accurate portrayal of Dune extends to other sectors as well – a modern take on Stillsuit costumes, a visually appealing new universe, etc. This is all coupled well with Hanz Zimmer’s musical composition and scoring of the film; we have a glimpse of this in the official trailer as some eerie Pink Floyd lingers as a backdrop for the teaser clips.
This 2020 adaptation will differ greatly from David Lynch’s 1984 version, an incredible disappointment for avid fans. Though there were numerous flaws, the most significant happened to be Lynch’s choice of condensing the entire novel into one film, which made the film come across as overwhelming and incomplete. By contrast, Villeneuve’s version will seem more whole given that the film covers the entire first half of the novel. The total experience of the film seems to be promising given the teasers in the trailer, and there is plenty of curiosity surrounding the contents of the follow-up film.
Villeneuve mentions in a cast interview, “Dune is a movie about the capacity of adaptation, because there’s a lot of changes that are coming. That’s why I think Dune is more relevant than ever.” Viewers will be excited to know that a riveting, jam-packed blockbuster is on its way, a perfect distraction to get immersed in during quarantine.
Cover Photo: Vanity Fair