Denis Villeneuve explains why Dune had to be adapted into two movies

Director Denis Villeneuve said one movie just wasn’t enough to do justice to Frank Herbert’s sci-fi epic novel Dune.

“I would not agree to make this adaptation of the book with one single movie,” Villeneuve told Vanity Fair in an in-depth preview of his upcoming blockbuster. “The world is too complex. It’s a world that takes its power in details.”

#DUNE FIRST LOOK: Oscar Isaac is Duke Leto, father of Paul and head of House Atreides.

See more from @Breznican's film preview: https://t.co/ubFGRO3FWu pic.twitter.com/X6nNB4YAYC

— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) April 14, 2020

The Sicario and Arrival director is helming the star-studded adaptation of the seminal novel, which tells the story of a young nobleman who finds himself thrust into conflict on the desert planet Arrakis after rivals target his family. The big-budget cast includes Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, and Rebecca Ferguson.

Warner Brothers has not greenlit the second film yet. That will all depend on the success of the first film, however, which Villeneuve said would cover the first half of Herbert’s first book in the series. 

This adaptation is the second big-screen attempt at Herbert’s masterwork, the first being a 1984 flop directed by David Lynch. 

Villeneuve told Vanity Fair he considers Lynch “one of the best filmmakers alive,” but his version set to hit theaters in December will be different.

Villeneuve said it’s ”a book that tackles politics, religion, ecology, spirituality — and with a lot of characters. I think that’s why it’s so difficult. Honestly, it’s by far the most difficult thing I’ve done in my life.”

He also said the film tries to wrangle the broader context of Herbert’s book, “a distant portrait of the reality of the oil and the capitalism and the exploitation — the overexploitation — of Earth. Today, things are just worse,” he said.

But, he still considers the heart of it to be a “coming of age” story about the aristocrat Paul Atreides, played by Chalamet. 

As loyal as he wants to be to the book, the writing takes some liberties by adding more female characters and making Baron Harkonnen less of a “caricature,” according to Villeneuve. 

Dune is set to hit theaters December 18. 

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