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Dune director Denis Villeneuve shares his views on film’s first trailer

September 25th, 2020 | by vBollywood Author
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After a few months of anticipation, the Dune trailer has arrived with visions of planets and heroes from beyond the stars. The trailer shares a lot of images and faces at the viewer, teasing the many parts of a story that will be told across two movies. Sharing these visuals, EW caught up with director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) to know some of the key moments from the trailer.

Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), scion of a noble household, is prone to visions. Even before he arrives on the desert planet Arrakis, he  dreams of a beautiful girl in the dunes. As he eventually finds out, her name is Chani (Zendaya), and she is a member of the Arrakis natives known as Fremen. There are a lot of different things waiting for Paul in the desert, but in the end Chani may be the most important.

An early scene from the original novel forms the centerpiece of the Dune trailer. The Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling), leader of the all-female secret society famous as the Bene Gesserit, has come to the planet Caladan to test young Paul Atreides. The Bene Gesserit test is understandable. Paul has no choice but to put his hand in a box while the Reverend Mother holds a poison needle known as the gom jabbar against his neck. His hand in the box is then gets unbearable psychic pain; if he tries to flinch or tries to withdraw his hand from the box, she will kill him with the gom jabbar. Villeneuve acknowledges it as a “pivotal” scene that sets the rest of the story in motion, and tells us a lot about the unique world of Dune.

“Is the mental part of him stronger than the animal part? That was very important for [Dune author] Frank Herbert,” Villeneuve says. “At some point in the Dune history, the human brain will reach a level of control where there’s no more computers in that universe, so the brain is trained to be able to make insane calculations and have control over your body. Paul, having some Bene Gesserit training, needed to be tested to see if he can use this power for the good of humanity.”

This is a test rarely given to men, and one gets the sense that maybe the Reverend Mother wants Paul to fail. Unfortunately for her, though, the story’s protagonist is not killed in the opening scene. He survives, becoming stronger and darker.

“Because he’s someone with a specific genetic background, the Reverend Mother goes a bit too far,” Villeneuve continues. “It’s a test that is messing with the subconscious of the subject. By going so far, she unleashes some elements of Paul’s psyche, some things that will create a lot of problems later. It’s a very important scene.”

We only get a brief taste of Dune’s primary villain in this trailer, but it’s enough to unsettle.

“I didn’t want the Baron to be a buffoon or caricature, I wanted him to have the feeling of strength, a strategist,” Villeneuve says. “I wanted the Baron to be seductive, someone who has a certain kind of sensuality to him. Most important, I wanted the Baron to have a deep intelligence.”

The greatest fighter in House Atreides’ impressive retinue, and perhaps in the universe as a whole, is Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa), who can be seen in the trailer taking down whole squads of enemies.

“Jason is a beautiful fighter. He’s like a ballet dancer. He loves it, and he’s so good at it,” Villeneuve says. “He’s elegant, very precise, and he’s very generous. Duncan Idaho is a cross-mix between a samurai and one of the best knights in the galaxy, and also is known to be a beautiful man. So I needed all those elements. Jason also brought calm. It’s a Duncan who is very calm, very patient, with the deep soul of an explorer. He’s someone where you feel that if s— hits the fan, you want to be behind that guy! You know he will protect you.”

If you’ve spent time in the sci-fi section of a bookstore, perhaps you’ve glimpsed this creature on the cover of Dune paperbacks. But all that was nothing compared to seeing the sandworm rise on screen in all its glory.

“I think that as soon as you say, ‘okay, let’s make Dune,’ you go back home and the first thing you ask is, ‘okay, what about the worm?'” Villeneuve says. “It’s a fantastic central figure of Dune’s story, that massive creature that lives in the deep desert, so when we were creating the worm I tried to create a lifeform that you will totally believe can go and survive in this land. So of course it has to have some prehistoric quality to it, because it’s living in the most rough environment. It was a lot of dreaming. We took our time with it. I deeply love the worm we came up with. It was important for me to understand that this huge creature has a soul, to understand that it is revered as a god-like figure.”

Photo courtesy: www.youtube.com

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