As you may well know, Denis Villeneuve isn’t the first director to turn Dune into a science fiction movie. David Lynch adapted the book back in the ’80s, though Villeneuve felt a better film was possible.
In an interview with Empire, the director spoke about seeing Lynch’s version, and not being entirely satisfied by the creative choices. “When I saw [Lynch’s] Dune I remember being excited, but his take – there are parts that I love and other elements that I am less comfortable with,” Villeneuve explains. “So it’s like, I remember being half-satisfied. That’s why I was thinking to myself, ‘There’s still a movie that needs to be made about that book, just a different sensibility’.”
He does frontload these comments by saying he loves Lynch, calling him “the master”. David Lynch is a brilliant filmmaker, but his work can be an acquired taste. His ’80s movie based on Dune isn’t your typical sci-fi blockbuster. There’s lots of dialogue, and Lynch leans into the weirdness of a universe that has psychics and nigh-immortality, all based around turf war for a space drug that’s only available on one planet. Kyle MacLachlan plays protagonist Paul Atreides, and Sting and Patrick Stewart are there. It’s a lot.
Both Lynch and Villeneuve’s takes come after fantasy movie filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s famously botched effort at Frank Herbert’s tome. Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, and Salvador Dalí were in the cast, Pink Floyd were going to contribute to the soundtrack, and the proposed screenplay had a runtime of 14 hours. You can find out more in Jodorowsky’s Dune, a filmmaking documentary for the ages.
In any case, Villeneuve’s version is only around two-and-a-half hours, though this is just part one. We’ll have to see how long part two is, but 12 hours is probably a stretch. Timothée Chalamet is playing Paul Atreides, and he’s joined by a cast that includes Jason Momoa, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, and many more.
Villeneuve’s Dune opens in theatres October 22, 2022. For more spice, check out the best alien movies of all time.