Star Wars was “elephant in the room” for Dune, says Denis Villeneuve

Josh Brolin and Oscar Isaac in Dune

Making any great science fiction movie blockbuster means being aware of Star Wars. Denis Villeneuve understands the pressure of that legacy all too well by directing Dune.

In a guest column for this month’s issue of Empire, Villeneuve talks about trying find Dune’s own voice amid all the obvious nods to George Lucas’s mammoth franchise. “It was a very long process to find this identity in a world with the giant elephant of Star Wars in the room,” he writes, transcribed by SyFy Wire. “George Lucas was inspired by Dune when he created Star Wars. Then as we were making a movie about Dune, we had to negotiate the influence of Star Wars. It’s full circle.”

Frank Herbert’s Dune novel was first published in 1965, and being that its primary setting is the desert planet of Arrakis, and the first place we visit in Star Wars is the desert planet of Tattooine, the similarities are fundamental. Now that the Skywalker saga has become a total cultural ubiquity, turning Dune into a big screen action movie without treading on a long long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away is easier said than done.

Villeneuve’s philosophy in achieving this has been to err towards Herbert’s words and ideas as much as possible. “The objective was not to have a strong imprint of my personality on Dune,” he says, “it was more important to make sure that we had the humility to be as close to Frank Herbert’s mind as possible.”

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Critics so far have been impressed by what Villeneuve’s achieved in the alien movie. In her review for The Digital Fix, Steph Green calls Dune “an astronomically impressive film”. As we get closer to release, Dune: Part Two is becoming a bigger question, with Zendaya set to take on a bigger role in the prospective sequel.

Whether that happens is till in question. Dune opens in theatres across the UK and US on October 22, and American viewers can watch it via streaming service HBO Max.

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Anthony McGlynn

Staff writer

Updated: Oct 04, 2021


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