Denis Villeneuve explains why his film Dune was split into two movies

‘It’s by far the most difficult thing I’ve done in my life’

Annie Lord
Wednesday 15 April 2020 10:27 BST
Dune (1984) - trailer

Denis Villeneuve’s long-anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel series Dune will be split into two movies as the director believes the world is “too complex” to fit into one feature.

Villeneuve will also be overseeing a Dune TV series which will run on Warner Bros’ new streaming service.

“I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie,” Villeneuve told Vanity Fair. “The world is too complex. It’s a world that takes its power in details.”

“It’s a book that tackles politics, religion, ecology, spirituality – and with a lot of characters,” the Blade Runner 2049 director continued. “I think that’s why it’s so difficult. Honestly, it’s by far the most difficult thing I’ve done in my life.“

The book is set in the far future, where humanity has abandoned computers in favour of training their minds to be capable of extremely complex tasks, relying on a rare drug known as “spice” in order to do so. It also improves their general health, extends life, and bestows limited prescience, making it a form of currency across the galactic empire.

It can only be found on Arrakis, an inhospitable desert planet inhabited by giant sandworms. Each planet in the empire is ruled by a Great House, swearing its allegiance to the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV.

The Emperor suspects that Duke Leto Atreides of House Atreides represents a challenge to his authority, seeking to undermine him by assigning House Atreides control over Arrakis, despite it belonging to Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, of the rival House Harkonnen.

Scheduled to land on 18 December, the all-star cast of Dune includes Timothée Chalamet as the book’s protagonist Paul Atreides. Oscar Isaac will play his father, Duke Leto Atreides, while Rebecca Ferguson will play his mother, Lady Jessica.

Villeneuve’s film has no direct connection to David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation. Although it’s now considered something of a cult classic, Lynch’s Dune was both a critical and box office failure, grossing $30.9m from a $40m budget.

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