It was unfathomable some 16 months ago that I'd ever feel so invigorated by the simple act of anticipating going to see a big, thrilling action movie on the big screen. The prospect that I was about to see Denis Villeneuve's Dune, which had a 2020 release date postponed until 2021, made me feel elated about movies again.
|Charlotte Rampling is Rev. Mother Mohiam (she has a box of pain) - credit: Warner Bros.|
I felt like I was levitating six feet off the ground as I entered the elevator at the bottom floor of the mall to head up to the level for the movie theatre. I held the doors when I noticed about six to eight guys heading towards the elevator. The small group arrived. Immediately, I asked, “Are you all headed up to see Dune?” A few answered, “Yes.” I added, “Are we all ready to leave this planet, never to return?!” An even louder “YES!” answered me. I felt a rush of adrenalin; I was with my people again! Fans of epic sci-fi and action-filled drama! If I was given the opportunity, I would have stood in front of the entire theatre to do a warm-up routine and introduce each member of the cast on the poster.
I have always enjoyed watching movies in a communal environment in which the entire crowd is going through an experience with you for the first time. I saw Dune with an audience who I could feel were also paying attention. When there were quiet moments, it was a very quiet audience; no sounds of eating, not even anyone snoring! We were all so absorbed with the action and hanging on each word. The tension was apparent like during the ferocious battle -- the screams of the dying settled, and I heard myself exhale and then others. We all needed a moment of stillness -- it was heavy, not gory, but the action was very intense.
|Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto (Paul's father)- credit: Warner Bros.|
On the day that the movie was released widely, my co-worker informed me about her plans to see it. She, too, was seeing it in a theatre equipped with Dolby Atmos. I had originally told her the day after I attended an early preview screening to see the movie in this kind of theatre, not first through HBO Max, which was her original plan. "You'll feel as though you're inside the vehicles. It's an extraordinary immersive experience." I was so satisfied to feel she was convinced, so I just said, “Take a deep breath and just enjoy the immersion.”
Dune has to be seen in a theatre with Dolby Atmos and should be seen on IMAX (Technical details). It is not just the surround sound, but the score by Hans Zimmer brings out the emotions that these characters are experiencing. You feel a sense of anticipation when the desert sand blows into the ship as the doors rise up. You can hear the grains of sand hitting the deck. A film score consisting of booming kettle drums and the bagpipes heighten the formality of the arrival and being greeted for the first time by the Harkonnen people. The music doesn't drown out the chants of "Lisan-al-Gaib" meaning "Voice of the outer world" and the name for "Messiah."
|David Dastmalchian is Piter De Vries (his name is synonymous with devious) - credit Warner Bros.|
When I finally saw my co-worker again a few days later, she said that her husband was never so happy to have gone to the theatre for a movie. He said that the sound is such a significant part of the story as much as the landscape and the characters. You get the immersive experience, which is how it was intended to be seen.
I asked her if she had known the books before seeing the movie and she had not, but now she wants to read the books. She went on to say that she has a family member with the original books who's read them quite a few times.
I asked her which character she identified with the most and it was the Fremen servant, Shadout Mapes (Golda Rosheuvel), whom Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) was skeptical; reluctant to trust, and it was because the woman wanted to help the family that my co-worker identified with her.
|Rebecca Ferguson portrays Lady Jessica - Credit: Warner bros.|
|Shadout Mapes portrayed by Golda Rosheuvel - credit: Warner Bros.|
She and I are both fans of Jason Momoa and we discuss his work. She said that it really upset her to see his character Duncan Idaho look as though he’s been killed. I still don’t believe that he is dead. NOTE: You can easily be spoiled if you look deeper into the character of Duncan Idaho. I think Jason Momoa is going to be in forthcoming sequels.
|Jason Momoa is Duncan Idaho - credit: Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Pictures|
Countries where Dune filmed include Austria, Abu Dhabi, Jordan, and Norway.
|Baron Harkonnen's pet (screenshot from Dune)|
- feeling like I’m inside the Ornithopter!
- Mongolian throat singing
- Use of Voice for controlling people
|Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen - credit: Warner Bros.|
Villeneuve read Dune when he was 13 and has known the story well for 40 years. He identifies most with Paul’s journey.
He was a student of biology and was interested in Dune’s ecosystem.
He saw a lot of elements in David Lynch’s Dune that he enjoyed, but it was not his dream of the book that he saw on screen. He wanted to focus on the book in the spirit of getting back to the images. He worked like an archaeologist to go back to the uncorrupted images and ignore the old dreams.
He picked Timothy Chalamet to play Paul because on a physical level he wanted someone who was youthful -- a 15-year-old -- yet a very mature person. It was his idea to find someone who was a charismatic “rock star” type so he needed an actor who could bring that and carry the whole movie.
Villeneuve only wanted to shoot in real environments; use reality-based angles, which is something he could not achieve on a backlot. It was important for him to embrace the nature in the story, the power of the desert in all its emotion and its spectacle. He wanted to work with several people with whom he previously worked. It was important to work with people he knew so that it didn’t overwhelm the writing process. He was able to focus on Paul’s experience. He spent time being outside. Paul’s psyche changes with the landscape on a very human level and soon he is on a deep journey.
|Timothy Chalamet as Paul Atriedes - credit: Warner Bros.|
The last part of the film he had to cut was of Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) singing, which will be moved to part two. However, this is the director’s cut, this film, and there is no other director’s cut.
Villeneuve often felt as though he went through a transformation during the making of Dune. He had a sign on his office door that read, “Adapt or die.” He experienced so many obstacles as challenges, which were quite difficult, so he kept those words in his mind.
If he was going to make part two, it would require a lot of design work. Yes, we know the “language” but technically it will be more challenging.
He wrote the beginning from Chani’s POV because he understands how the beginnings of movies are delicate. He didn’t want to get into the hardcore element of sci-fi language at the very beginning. He was faced with the problem of wanting it to be a movie that his mother could understand. It is an invitation to read the Herbert book so he wrote the beginning in a way to keep it simple and elegant. It felt accurate to start with her and it only came to him at the end of filming. He wanted the audience to experience a slow immersion into the story and that it be an audience-friendly film; a welcoming experience.
Dune part two has been announced and we can look for it in theatres in October of 2023.