Denis Villeneuve has Big Plans for His Dune Movie – Make That Movies
Following up on his critical success with Blade Runner 2049, director Denis Villeneuve thinks his Dun movie might actually turn into multiple movies.
Denis Villeneuve is going to be very busy over the next few years. Speaking to a packed house in Montreal, the director began to discuss his next project, a new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic book, Dune. That in itself isn’t news, but one thing that stood out was the scope of the film – or rather, films.
“Dune will probably take two years to make,” said Villeneuve. “The goal is to make two films, maybe more.”
Dune has been adapted for the screen twice before. The first was the cult classic David Lynch film, which was a fairly loose adaptation. It offered a lot of the weirdness of the book but sacrificed some of the deep philosophy. The second adaptation was a SyFy Channel miniseries that was more faithful to Herbert’s work, but also lacked some of the flair.
Villeneuve hasn’t really talked much about what his film – or films – might look like, but he has stated that he’s wanted to make a Dune film since he was a kid, which would make him a fan of the original book first. He’s also given credit to Lynch’s version while politely distancing himself from it.
There are several ways to adapt Dune, and there’s also the possibility of creating a franchise. Herbert wrote six books in the series spanning thousands of years and was planning on a seventh before his death. His son Brian Herbert collaborated with author Kevin J Anderson to write two additional sequels, along with several prequels.
If Villeneuve wants to stick with the first book, there is a natural point in the narrative where he could break one film into two. The first film could focus on the upbringing of the main character Paul Atreides, and his family’s move to the desert planet Arrakis. After an attack, Paul and his mother are forced to flee into the depths of the desert, where they are taken in by the Fremen. The book then changes and would offer a stopping point as the story quickly skips over the next two years. During that time, Paul becomes a religious and military leader and leads an assault on his enemies, which could be the focus of the second film.
Another option would be to tell the story of Dune in the first film and then Dune Messiah, the second book, as the second film. That might rush things though, and if Villeneuve’s previous works have shown us anything it’s that he doesn’t like to rush things. So the first option seems more likely.
One day, years from now when someone decides to look back at 2017 in film, one of the most jarring contradictions will probably be Blade Runner 2049. Critics and most audiences thought it was brilliant (including us), but it had plenty of detractors and it didn’t fare as well at the box office as the studio hoped. That has all the makings of a cult classic that will gain in reputation over the years, even decades.
The original cut of Blade Runner 2049 was also nearly four hours, so Villeneuve is no stranger to taking on dense material and letting it play out. With Dune, the studio seems to be letting him do his own thing – which means fans may be in for something incredible.