This story about the making of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” first appeared in the Below-the-Line issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.
“Maybe there’s a self-preservation chip that I don’t have,” Denis Villeneuve said with a laugh. The Canadian director has good reason to say that, considering that his last movie was a sequel to an all-time classic, Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” and his new one is an attempt to put Frank Herbert’s massive sci-fi novel “Dune” on the screen. That’s a task that had previously confounded directors including Scott, Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Lynch (who, to be fair, made a version, though neither he nor anybody else liked it).
“I like to put all the chips on the table, to jump without nets,” said Villeneuve, whose other films include “Sicario,” “Prisoners” and “Arrival.” “There’s something about the beauty of the gesture when you’re taking a big risk creatively that I’m deeply comfortable with.” Here’s an exclusive video on the making of “Dune” prepared for the Jan. 11 home video release of the film:
As you might expect from his recent filmography, the 54-year-old director was a sci-fi kid growing up in Québec, with favorites that ranged from “2001: A Space Odyssey” (“I discovered it on television and was mesmerized”) and “Planet of the Apes” (“quite terrifying”) to French graphic novelists to science fiction writers like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.
“Sci-fi was kind of an escape pod from reality for me,” he said. “I was obsessed with the power of science fiction, in the way it explores dark parts of the human condition in a very dynamic and poetic way.”
Villeneuve’s own sci-fi streak began with 2017 Best Picture nominee “Arrival” and continued with “Blade Runner 2049,” which he calls “a beautiful bad idea.” “Dune,” envisioned as part one of two films that will encompass Herbert’s book, is his biggest undertaking to date, creating breathtaking alien worlds but using them as backdrop to a story of power and family. To pull it off, he relied on a team of artists and craftsmen, many of whom he’s worked with in the past. “I’m starting to build a family of artists,” he said. “It’s about communication and about creative complicity.”
In this special section, nine of Villeneuve’s key collaborators talk about their work on “Dune.”
Read more from TheWrap’s “Dune” package here: