Adapting Dune for the big screen has been a lifelong dream of Denis Villeneuve, ever since he learned about David Lynch's cult classic Dune (1984) from the magazines Fantastic Films and Starlog, and read Frank Herbert's novel when he was around twelve years old. He wanted to make a faithful adaptation, so he waited until he'd done the science-fiction films Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) first so that he would have sufficient experience in the genre before starting work on this film. In fact, scenes from his prior films are strongly influenced by his interpretations of scenes from the novel.
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David Lynch, director of the previous Dune (1984), stated that he has "zero interest in Dune (2021)". He cited that his issues with the new movie have nothing to do with director Denis Villeneuve but with his own painful memories of making the 1984 version: "Because it was a heartache for me. It was a failure and I didn't have final cut. I've told this story a billion times. It's not the film I wanted to make. I like certain parts of it very much - but it was a total failure for me."
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Denis Villeneuve confirmed in a Vanity Fair article that his adaptation of Dune will be split into two films in order to ensure that the original story would be "preserved and not cut into a million pieces." However, contrary to the common practice of filming several installments back to back, only the first movie (which roughly covers the first half of the source novel) was greenlit and produced, with an optional sequel depending on how well the first film performed. A sequel was greenlit on the Tuesday after the film opened. According to production designer Patrice Vermette, the movie was originally supposed to end later in the story, but during pre-production, these final scenes were shifted to the sequel, meaning that some of the preparation for Dune: Part Two (2023) has already been done.
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Composer Hans Zimmer is a big fan of the novel Dune, and turned down working with frequent collaborator Christopher Nolan on Tenet (2020) to score this film. For the same reason, Denis Villeneuve was the top choice but turned down the offer to direct the Bond film No Time to Die (2021).
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The scenes on the ocean world of Caladan were shot in Stadlandet, Norway. Much of the desert scenes on the desert world of Arrakis were shot in Jordan and Abu Dhabi, in the Middle East.
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Hans Zimmer spent a week in the deserts of Utah alone to assimilate some of the sounds of the landscape into his thinking for the score.
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Linguistics expert, David J. Peterson, helped create the Fremen language for the movie. He is most well known for helping create the Game of Thrones (2011) languages of Dothraki and Valyrian.
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Denis Villeneuve saw Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård) as a "rhino in human form," and so Skarsgård had to spend seven hours a day applying makeup for his role as the Baron.
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In an interview with Empire Magazine, director Denis Villeneuve described the year-long process that went into designing the massive sandworms, the most iconic creatures of the Dune saga: "We talked about every little detail that would make such a beast possible, from the texture of the skin, to the way the mouth opens, to the system to eat its food in the sand. It was a year of work to design and to find the perfect shape that looked prehistoric enough."
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The first full trailer for the film features a version of Pink Floyd's "Eclipse" by composer Hans Zimmer. This is a nod to director Alejandro Jodorowsky's proposed adaptation of Dune in the 1970s, for which he wanted the band to write the score.
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Although not mentioned in the movie, the Great Houses originally come from Earth, explaining the use of Latin terms (such as 'Bene Gesserit', meaning 'well done', and the name Gaius), the Dutch word 'Landsraad', and the Dutch name 'De Vries'. Although they live on planet Caladan, the Atreides family has their roots in Earth's Greece, where the Minoan civilization was strongly associated with the bull-creature Minotaurus. This may explain the Atreides' use of bull imagery and the implication that Paul's grandfather died in a bullfight. In the extended universe, an ancient Atreides ancestor had traced his lineage back to the Greek King Atreus, a character mentioned in the Greek Iliad. He adopted the surname 'Atreides', which literally means 'son of Atreus'.
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This film sports a distinctly Arabic theme, in keeping with author Frank Herbert having used Islamic culture as an influence for his story.
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The score was recorded by Hans Zimmer during COVID lock down. Zimmer's team turned his sitting room into a studio which was next to his daughter's room. He recalls, "She will tell everybody that she suffers from bagpipe PTSD, because it's 5:30 in the morning and I'm still blasting away and the whole house is shaking."
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A spin-off prequel series titled Dune: The Sisterhood was announced for HBO Max while the film was being promoted. Originally, Dune writer Jon Spaihts was announced as showrunner, but he stepped down to focus on writing Dune: Part Two (2023) instead.
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The helmets of the Harkonnen soldiers were based on the heads of insects.
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Warners Bros. announced that the movie will be streamed on HBO Max just as it hits the theaters. Director Denis Villeneuve has voiced his displeasure, claiming that the studio "might have just killed the film" and that "streaming can produce great content, but not movies of Dune's scope and scale. Warner Bros.' decision means Dune won't have the chance to perform financially in order to be viable and piracy will ultimately triumph. [...] My team and I devoted more than three years of our lives to make it a unique big screen experience. Our movie's image and sound were meticulously designed to be seen in theaters." Villeneuve compared watching the movie on a TV to trying to use a speedboat in a bath tub, and expressed concerns that releasing the film on streaming would kill its box office potential, and thereby the viability of the proposed sequel Dune: Part Two (2023). However, Warner Bros eventually made good on their promise that the sequel would be greenlit as long as the movie was successful, including the number of views on HBO Max.
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Donald Mowat initially considered creating custom lenses for the blue-eyed Fremen characters, including Zendaya's character. However VFX supervisor Paul Lambert and the Visual FX department ended up digitally adding the Fremens iconic blue eyes during post-production. Mowat explained, "we did a couple of practical lenses at first for Zendaya and then I thought, 'who am I kidding? We're in the Middle East! There are sand storms, heat, and dust. It will be a disaster!"
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Fight coordinator Roger Yuan based the fighting style of House Atreides on Filipino martial arts. To make House Harkonnen seem barbaric he based their fighting style on ancient Mongolian fighting styles. According to Yuan the Sardaukar in this adaptation are inspired by two different warrior cultures: the samurai of feudal Japan and the úlfhéðnar guard of the Norwegian king Harald Fairhair. The samurai-influence being the Sardaukar's fighting style and that they are also an elite military caste, while the úlfhéðnar-influence is the Sardaukar as a fanatical warrior cult practicing blood sacrifice and blood anointment before battle.
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Both composer Hans Zimmer and director Denis Villeneuve grew up with a deep appreciation of the novel of Dune. When Villaneuve was leaving the country to go film the movie overseas, Zimmer said to Villaneuve "Don't f*** it up." When Villaneuve returned to hand the movie over to Zimmer to score, he returned the same sentiment, "Don't f*** it up." Dune eventually earned 10 Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture, and brought home six awards, including Best Music for Zimmer.
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In Dune (1984), all the Harkonnen were depicted as red-haired. In this movie they are all depicted as bald.
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The story takes place in the year 10,191 After Guild (AG) of the Universal Standard Calendar (USC). In the books, the USC starts counting from the moment where the Spacing Guild enabled interstellar travel; from several clues in the first book's appendices, this occurred somewhere in the 14th millennium (some estimates say around 13,161 AD). This would mean that the movie takes place somewhere around 23,352 AD. However, apart from such assumptions, the books also mention that a standard year in the USC is 20 hours shorter than an Earth year, and no mention is made of leap years, so it remains a rough estimate.
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Sting was considered for a cameo/small role in this film after he starred as Feyd-Rautha in David Lynch's Dune (1984). The character ended up omitted from the 2021 adaptation.
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The film takes liberty in the stillsuits being of a dark color. This makes the actors much more visible to the camera, whereas the suits in the book were of a color that made it easier to hide.
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Denis Villeneuve's plans for Dune (2021) are quite ambitious, as he hopes to make it the Star Wars he never saw. In an interview, he explained that most of the main ideas of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) came from Dune, so it will be a challenge to tackle this project. Villeneuve even said, "In a way, it's Star Wars for adults." Oscar Isaac, who plays Duke Leto Atreides in the film, played Poe Dameron in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015), Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017), and Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (2019), and voiced Poe in Star Wars Resistance (2018).
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More than two thousand visual effect shots were created for the film. These shots used a chroma key process that visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert called "sandscreen"; instead of using green-based backgrounds, the visual effects team used brown-colored ones that matched the establishing desert shots intended for backgrounds. The resulting shots appear more natural than with other chroma keys. The sandworms were created through computer-generated imagery, with an original design considered "prehistoric" by Lambert, inspired by whales with a mouth filled with baleen and following the underwater movements of whales. While they had considered using rigged explosives to capture the motion of the sandworms breaking the surface in the desert, this would have been impractical in the Middle East, and instead used Houdini software to have sand mimic the motion of water. Villeneuve did not want the sound associated with these special effects to sound as a studio production, and sound designers Mark Mangini and Theo Green used a "fake documentary realism" approach to capture natural sounds and manipulate them for use in the film, such as recording the sounds of shifting sands in Death Valley using hydrophones.
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Cinematographer Greig Fraser revealed that though the film was originally shot digitally on the ARRI Alexa LF, director Denis Villeneuve transferred the picture onto 35mm film and then scanned the film back to digital.
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Rebecca Ferguson plays the mother of Timothée Chalamet despite being only 12 years older than him. However Chalamet is playing a 15-year-old, so that makes it a 20 year age difference for the characters.
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Denis Villeneuve previously directed Blade Runner 2049 (2017) for producer Ridley Scott. Scott was at one point planning to direct an adaptation of Dune. His own film Alien (1979) was written by Dan O'Bannon and designed by H.R. Giger, Chris Foss, Jean 'Moebius' Giraud, and Ron Cobb - all of whom had met each other while working on Alejandro Jodorowsky's failed Dune adaptation, and brought much of their design works from that project to Alien.
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Despite Denis Villeneuve's displeasure at the film being concurrently released on HBO Max as well as cinemas, it was the most-watched film overall in the USA on the streaming service for the first three weeks of its release.
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Denis Villeneuve's first time producing one of his films.
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Some new musical instruments were created specially for the film's soundtrack.
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The additional vocalist on the musical score is Lisa Gerrard, best known as part of the Australian music duo Dead Can Dance, and for her earlier collaboration with Dune composer Hans Zimmer on Gladiator (2000). She recorded her part in a wardrobe closet during the COVID lock down. Zimmer recalls a photo she sent him showing her recording. He enjoyed the irony of "the sound meant to echo through the desert and bounce off mountains was recorded in a Brooklyn clothes closet".
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The film's clothing is based on Dune (1984): the Harkonnen soldiers wear bulky green armor, the Atreides workers wear black uniforms with high collars and kepi caps, and the Sardaukar wear full pressure suits (while in the book they wore regular military uniforms and helmets).
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Actor Timothée Chalamet was 23 when he played Paul Atreides, two years younger than Kyle MacLachlan when he played the same role in Dune (1984). In the novel, Paul was 15 years old.
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This will be the third screen adaptation of Frank Herbert's epic science fiction novel of the same name, after David Lynch's Dune (1984) and the SyFy miniseries Dune (2000). An early attempt by director Alejandro Jodorowsky in the early 1970s failed to materialize due to prohibitive costs.
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Although Bagpipes are of uncertain origin, there are depictions of ancient bagpipe-like instruments from Egypt, the Middle East and Rome and documented evidence of it's use in medieval Europe (England, Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy). They have been adopted by military forces in the Middle East for over a century - the Jordanian army having a particularly spectacular marching pipe band. And so, with the Arabic and Islamic influences of Dune, it is wholly appropriate that bagpipes should be used by the Atreides military for ceremonial purposes.
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For the first trailer, Hans Zimmer gathered a 32-person choir via FaceTime to cover Pink Floyd's song "Eclipse" (this was in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic) with Zimmer conducting from home.
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Denis Villeneuve's first film to be shot on large format cameras and with Panavision lenses.
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The character of Stilgar played by Javier Bardem, exhibits very fine and organic scarring along his cheekbones to signify a history of violence. It's an elegant concept that Donald Mowat enjoyed creating with Bardem. "It's a new makeup for him. He's never really had that, and I had a great time working with him. It was a fantastic experience. He's a superb actor and a genuinely nice person."
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Many pieces of Atreides furniture portray a bull. Leto's father, Paulus, fought bulls to impress his people, as his namesake grandson Paul points out. This is portrayed in the novel Dune: House Atreides. Paulus was also assassinated when his concubine arranged for the bull to be drugged. The lettering on Paulus's grave is Greek, since House Atreides is itself of Greek ancestry. They take their name from the House of Atreus. In the Prelude to Dune trilogy, it is stated that House Atriedes traced its ancestry back to the ancient House of Atreus, including King Agamemnon. Paul's middle name, Orestes, also pays homage to this. In the Legends of Dune trilogy, it is revealed that a cymek warlord took the name Agamemnon, and gave his only son, Vorian, the surname Atreides.
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The Sardaukar army's chants feature a peculiar vocal technique called "throat singing" or "overtone singing". While its use is attested in traditions from all over the world (with the best known examples coming from Mongolian, Tibetan and Northern European traditions), one of the best known singing styles to employ it in the Mediterranean area is "cantu a tenore", unique to the Barbagia region of Sardinia. The similarity between the Italian island's name and that of the Sardaukar people suggest this might be an intentional choice.
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Denis Villeneuve's third consecutive science fiction film after Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
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Charlotte Rampling - who is bilingual - dubbed herself for the French version of the film.
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Roger Deakins was initially set to be the director of photography, having worked so successfully with Denis Villeneuve on his previous movie Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Scheduling difficulties meant that Deakins was unavailable, so Greig Fraser took up the reins. Both Deakins and Fraser won the Oscar for Best Cinematography for their work on these consecutive Villeneuve projects.
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The character of Liet Kynes, portrayed by Sharon Duncan-Brewster, has been gender-swapped from the books. He was previously portrayed by Max von Sydow in Dune (1984) and by Karel Dobrý (as Dr. Pardot Kynes/Liet) in the mini-series Dune (2000).
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Composer Hans Zimmer got his 11th Oscar nomination for Best Musical Score for this movie, and it earned him the second Oscar of his long career, 27 years after The Lion King (1994). He wasn't at the Academy Award ceremony to collect it personally because he was giving a series of concerts in Amsterdam, so cast member and presenter Jason Momoa accepted the award on his behalf.
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The use of Pink Floyd's song "Eclipse" in the first trailer caused the song to skyrocket on streaming music platforms by 1700%.
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Hans Zimmer chose the words for the score's lyrics based on words that sing well as opposed to their meaning. He has said "The professor of linguistics is probably quietly horrified by what I did. But the point isn't the understanding of the words but that someone is telling you something important."
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According to Denis Villeneuve, most of the main cast who featured were his top choices except for some of them. Zendaya was ultimately cast as Chani from the auditions after she was judged to have the best character chemistry with Timothée Chalamet. Chang Chen got the role of Dr. Yueh by chance after an encounter with Villeneuve at the 2018 Cannes film festival. Josh Brolin eventually got the part of Gurney after being suggested to meet Villeneuve by Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull while pitching a project of his own to the company.
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Shot over a period of four months.
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Announced as Dune, all the posters, trailers and stills titled it "Dune". The truth that it really was a preconceived first part wasn't revealed until the movie release, when the audience could see in the movie the title "Dune Part One".
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From the start, Donald Mowat and director Denis Villeneuve knew that realizing the character of Baron Harkonnen was going to be a mighty task. As the Baron is the antagonist of the story and ruler of the House of Harkonnen. Villeneuve started the conversation by describing his inspiration of 'pale alopecia' for the design. His initial ideas sparked Mowat's interest. Mowat pushed for the look to be achieved with practical makeup and prosthetics. His ideas meshed well with Villeneuve's vision. "I was thinking Marlon Brando in The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996). Something eccentric and over the top. He [Villeneuve] really responded to it" after the initial concept and design discussions with Villeneuve, Mowat knew exactly who to bring on to collaborate with on The Baron. "I went to my old friends, Love Larson and Eva Von Bahr, because we met on a film with Stellan Skarsgård in Sweden some years ago." When discussing the Baron's size, Mowat and Larson felt at first that less might be more. But the filmmakers kept coming back to them, asking for the character to be bigger. They eventually realized they would need to make some kind of a fat suit. The next question became, 'is this going to be a costume fat suit or a makeup fat suit?' they consulted the costume designers. Mowat said, "our costume designers Jacqueline West and Bob Morgan felt he [Baron Harkonnen] would probably have his clothes off. So we knew this was going to be more in the makeup department's wheelhouse. I thought let's look at having Love and his shop sculpt and build the suit in Sweden. Then we can monitor and give a progress report each week while we're prepping and shooting the film." Mowat gave Love Larson, Eva Von Bahr and their team 16 weeks to prep. "It was an enormous undertaking- the sculpting, detailing, and one makeup test." On shooting days, five people applied the prosthetics and suit. Application time was about 4 hours when Stellan Skarsgard was wearing clothes and 6 hours when the character was naked. "There are seven silicone pieces for the face in addition to the bald cap and brow covers. Everything is integrated and their work is sensational," Mowat explained. Stellan Skarsgard loved every part of the process, and Mowat spoke highly of his enthusiasm "Stellan's really into makeup. He's been in lots of incredible films with great makeup artists, hair stylists, and designers. He's got a great eye, and he is very enthusiastic. He's the kind of guy that when I set up the life casting for one day, I said 'you know it's going to be 7 or 8 hours.' Stellan wouldn't want to break for lunch. We know other people who every 20 minutes need to be on the phone or have personal time. He's very committed and extremely enthusiastic." Some more complicated scenes involved Skarsgard being submerged in a bathtub of black muddy liquid which was meant to be a 'healing mud bath' according to Villeneuve. Mowat discovered that the oiliness of the mud bath substance on set was releasing the prosthetics. "It became a little bit more complicated with the suits buoyancy as well. Larson and Bahr's team spent a whole Saturday and Sunday reconfiguring things to keep him under the oil. And that's the only time we used the stunt double instead of Stellan for safety because he does get pulled "
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Another connection with the failed Alejandro Jodorowsky version is the appearance of Charlotte Rampling. Jodorowsky wanted her to play Jessica but she didn't like his screenplay. She appears in this version as the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother.
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#1 on Letterboxd's Most Anticipated list as of January 2021. It has maintained this spot for over a year.
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The minute that Timothée Chalamet heard that Denis Villeneuve was getting involved in remaking the property, he set up Google Alerts so that he could get involved as early as possible.
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The sandworms have a minute and a half of screen time.
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Very little is seen of the Guild Navigators, the evolved beings that control space travel utilizing the Spice that drives much of the story. The film does not show what happens in the jump from star to star or planet to planet, the only hint being the long tunnel-like crafts that smaller ships emerge from above planets. In the scene where Reverend Mother Mohiam arrives on Caladan to test Paul, the planet she travels from can be seen through the tunnel, suggesting that the journey is somehow taking place instantaneously. In Dune lore, it is indeed explained that the Guild can "fold space", meaning that the point of departure and destination are being brought very close together through quantum mechanics, so that ships can make the trip without moving at all. The complex calculations necessary for these trips can only be done by Spice-enhanced Navigators of the Guild, explaining why Spice is so vital for interstellar travel and trade, and why the Guild has the monopoly on this means of transportation.
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The matador imagery is a memorial to Leto's father Paulus Atreides, who was killed during a bullfight tampered with by a Harkonnen assassin in the prequel novel "House Atreides" written by Frank Herbert's son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. The severed bull head is that of the bull that killed him.
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The producers wanted Emma Roberts to play the role of Princess Irulan, but the star gave up because of the busy schedule.
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Denis Villeneuve said that adapting Dune was a lifelong ambition. Having expressed his interest in the project in September 2016, saying that "a longstanding dream of mine is to adapt Dune, but it's a long process to get the rights, and I don't think I will succeed". Villeneuve said that he felt he was not ready to direct a Dune movie until he had completed projects like Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), and that with his background in science fiction films, "Dune is my world." Brian Herbert, son of Frank Herbert and author of later books in the Dune series, confirmed that Villeneuve would be directing the project in February 2017.
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Kyle MacLachlan, who played Paul in Dune (1984), was very supportive of Timothée Chalamet's casting as Paul Atreides. He also said that he would love to have a cameo in a sequel.
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At one point, Peter Jackson expressed interest in directing a new film adaptation of Dune.
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On Letterboxd, the eye icon used to signify that a user has watched a title is usually green. For this film's entry, the eye is blue, representing the Fremen.
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In contrast to the prosthetic heavy characters, for Paul and Lady Jessica of House Atreides played by Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson, Donald Mowat kept the design clean and polished. "With Timmy and Rebecca, the makeup and hair for them is subtle. It evolves, but there is a lot more to it because they work every single day. So the continuity of their makeup and hair is so important."
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Javier Bardem is now the third Bond villain actor to play the character of Stilgar in a Dune adaptation, having appeared in Skyfall (2012); he follows Octopussy (1983)'s Steven Berkoff in Children of Dune (2003) and Licence to Kill (1989)'s Everett McGill in Dune (1984). Max von Sydow also played Liet-Kynes in Dune (1984) and Bond archenemy, Blofeld, in the unofficial Bond film, Never Say Never Again (1983). Likewise, Dave Bautista also played a Bond villain in Spectre (2015) as Hinx.
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The plot of the full 155 minutes of this movie is told in 98 of the 137 minutes of the original Dune (1984), and in 104 of the 270 minutes of the mini-series Dune (2000) (all of the first episode and 14 minutes of the second episode).
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Due to scheduling, the make up department didn't have a chance to do a makeup test for the Fremen character Chani played by Zendaya, ahead of time so Donald Mowat and his team designed her look the night before shooting. "It was simple and subtle, but still had to be thought through, you know with the little tattoos and things like that."
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A very close version of the main theme from Dune (1984) appears in this 2021 adaptation at 2:07:20 after a Jamis vision when Paul and Jessica see the desert with their still-suits put on for the first time.
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Dave Bautista plays the role of The Baron's nephew, Glossu Rabban Harkonnen aka 'Beast'. Bautista looked forward to taking on the part, and Donald Mowat rose to the occasion. For Beast, Mowat went for an old school theatrical painted makeup. The only prosthetics implemented were brow covers from Roland Blancaflor at RBFX Studio. Mowat elaborates, "it was a classic makeup. I had to do tattoo cover on his hands and neck, followed by a basic makeup. I used three or four colors of very traditional grease makeup. He [Bautista] arrived very late in the game, and I did one test, and Denis Villeneuve kind of loved it. Dave became one of our favorites really. He only shot six or seven days, but I loved having Dave, it was my second or third time working with him." Ultimately, Mowat went far beyond simply making the Harkonnen characters pale. He took the makeup concept closer to creating different species. "You have to be a storyteller. Sometimes you're down to the way it used to be, where you have a couple of crayons, a makeup box and a couple of pansticks, so you've got to learn how to use them. You don't always have the privilege of being on something where you have the money and the photoshopping, and you've got lots of resources. That's very much how I like to work."
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David Dastmalchian's third movie with director Denis Villeneuve, following Prisoners (2013) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
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(October 5, 2020) Warner Bros. announced that the film would be delayed from December 18, 2020 to October 1, 2021.
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Legendary Entertainment acquired the rights to the novel in 2016.
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The film was leaked online on October 17, 2021, less than a week before its American premiere.
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The flying vehicles are called "ornithopters", from the Greek words 'ornis' meaning 'bird' and 'pteron', 'wing'. However, these machines are shaped (and their wings move) like dragon-flies, so they should be called "anisopters" from 'anisoptera' (dragonflies' scientific name), with 'anisos' meaning 'unequal'.
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Stephen Collins, who plays the Harkonnen soldier who suggests throwing Paul out of the ornithopter, is Deaf. This is a nod to the novel, where it's explained that the Harkonnens chose a Deaf soldier to oversee Paul and Jessica's capture so that he wouldn't be affected by the Voice.
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Premiered 101 years after Frank Herbert's birth, 56 years after Herbert's first Dune novel, 37 years after Dune (1984), and 21 years after Dune (2000).
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This reunites Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya who both previously appeared in The Greatest Showman (2017).
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This is the first Dune adaptation to be filmed in IMAX (with IMAX-certified ARRI Alexa LF & Mini LF cameras), unlike previous adaptations, which were filmed in Todd-AO 35 for Dune (1984) and Univisium 2:1 for Dune (2000).
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Another iconic character is Piter de Vries, the sadistic Mentat who serves the Baron. Donald Mowat had previously worked with David Dastmalchian and considered him an old friend. During initial discussions, Dastmalchian was 100% prepared to shave his head for the role, but a last minute consideration caused some uncertainty. "He called me one day and said, 'Don, I've just been cast in something. And I don't know what to do. I just can't cut my hair. I've got to do this thing.' so he confided in me, and I said we have to talk to Denis." They discussed the situation with Denis Villeneuve and consulted with Love Larson. They determined the look could be achieved with a bald cap. Mowat then made it his mission to call Stephen Prouty of Fusion FX in LA and get Dastmalchian to him as soon as possible. "I sent him over twice and he did a custom silicone cap for us. Steve also very graciously did a test for us in LA months before David was scheduled to come to Budapest to work." Once on set, Rocky Faulkner applied the cap.
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Similar to Tenet (2020) and Birds of Prey (2020), Warner Bros. released an exclusive teaser trailer only in theaters before releasing an official trailer online.
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The book "Dune" was a fixup of two novels originally serialized in _Analog Science Fact / Science Fiction_ magazine, edited by John W. Campbell Jr.: "Dune World" (12/1963-2/1964) and "The Prophet of Dune" (1-5/1965).
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In 2007, Paramount began development on a proposed film adaptation of Dune. Peter Berg joined as director in 2008 with Joshua Zetumer as screenwriter. Berg subsequently dropped out to make Battleship (2012). Pierre Morel then took over as director, with Chase Palmer writing a new script. Morel also dropped out of the film in November 2010 and in 2011, Paramount put the project in turnaround as the rights had lapsed.
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Denis Villeneuve has now both revisited Dune (1984) and continued Blade Runner (1982). Sean Young played the main character's love interest in both films.
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Despite receiving prominent billing and being featured on most of the promo posters, Zendaya only has about 10 minutes of screen time in the film.
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The small book that Gurney Halleck occasionally browses, first seen at ~34:15, almost certainly represents the "Orange Catholic Bible", the main religious text of the Imperium. It is a fusion of the great ancient beliefs of Earth, with what seemed an emphasis on Islamic roots.
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The makeup department for the film needed a strong designer. Enter Canadian makeup artist and department head Donald Mowat. Mowat's career spans more than three decades. He is perhaps best known for working on films such as The Fighter (2010), 8 Mile (2002), Sicario (2015), Nightcrawler (2014), Prisoners (2013), Nocturnal Animals (2016), and Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Recently, Donald Mowat talked to SWSCA about his work as the makeup/hair/prosthetic designer on Dune Mowat and Denis Villeneuve first worked together on Prisoners in 2013, followed by Sicario, Blade Runner 2049, and now Dune. Mowat speaks highly of Villeneuve as a director. As he tells SWSCA, "This is my fourth film with [Denis]. I think we have a really remarkable professional relationship. He wanted me to take this job running makeup, prosthetics and hair as well. There's something fluid and easy if you have a person who deals with the makeup looks and the hair designs, like a costume designer or production designer. Denis was happy to try this. So I was active as a makeup artist and as a hair designer."
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The cast features one Oscar winner (Javier Bardem) and three Oscar nominees (Josh Brolin, Timothée Chalamet, and Charlotte Rampling).
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Oscar Isaac (Leto Atreides) appeared in Robin Hood (2010) with William Hurt, who played Leto in Dune (2000).
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The desert mouse Paul encounters in the open desert in both the novel and the movie wasn't in Dune (1984).
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During the meeting with representatives of high houses, we can see the same pattern on Lady Jessica's dress, Reverend Mother's dress, and on the seal wax which is used by Bene Gesserit.
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Reunites director Denis Villeneuve with Josh Brolin after working with him on Sicario (2015).
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The musical instrument the Harkonnen female plays (at ~1:59) may portray the "baliset" sometimes mentioned in Frank Herbert's Dune series. In Herbert's final volume the baliset is described as a distant cousin to the piano, which might explain the depiction of a palm-sized keyboard in the film.
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Stellan Skarsgård and Rebecca Ferguson are the second and third Swedes to appear in an adaptation of Dune. Max von Sydow previously appeared in David Lynch's film Dune (1984). Skarsgård also appeared in Dominion (2005) and Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), as the younger version of Von Sydow's character from The Exorcist (1973).
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Actors Jason Momoa and Dave Bautista also star together in the second season of the Apple TV+ series See (2019).
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The Matador imagery is reinforced by the Bull Fighting (Matador) Sculpture (created by Luke Massassi) found in the Atreides' home on Caladan, homeworld of House Atreides, and which appears twice in the movie. The sculpture represents the constant battle between the House Harkonnen and House Atreides over the planet Arrakis and it's spice. Symbolism of the Sculpture: The Bull is the House Harkonnen. The Matador is House Atreides. The cape represents the planet Arrakis, known as Dune.
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Timothée Chalamet and Stephen McKinley Henderson previously appeared in Lady Bird (2017).
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Josh Brolin and Dave Bautista previously appeared together in Avengers: Endgame (2019). Also appearing in that film was William Hurt who played Leto in Dune (2000).
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Several of the actors have starred as characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and/or other Marvel projects: Josh Brolin (Thanos, Cable), Dave Bautista (Drax), Oscar Isaac (Mark Spector in the MCU, Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)), Zendaya (Michelle Jones), Stellan Skarsgård (Erik Selvig), and David Dastmalchian (Kurt from the Ant-Man movies in the MCU).
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Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem played deadly enemies in No Country for Old Men (2007); in this movie Brolin's character Gurney says he hates Bardem's character Stilgar.
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Javier Bardem previously appeared in No Country for Old Men (2007) for the Coen Brothers. The Brothers' earlier film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) featured a character named Ulysses Everett McGill, named for Everett McGill, who played Stilgar in David Lynch's Dune (1984).
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Reunites director Denis Villeneuve with Dave Bautista and David Dastmalchian after working with them on Blade Runner 2049 (2017). Villeneuve also worked with Dastmalchian on Prisoners (2013).
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This movie was filmed in Italy.
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Baron Harkonnen calls Duke Leto "cousin," implying they are family. In the expanded universe of Dune, as part of the Bene Gesserit plan to beget the Kwisatz Haderach, the Reverend Mother requested a child from Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. He brutally raped her and impregnated her with Lady Jessica, who later became Paul Atreides' mother, making Paul the Baron's grandson. Furthermore, after the rape, the Reverend Mother infected the Baron with a disease that caused his extreme obesity. Due to this, the Baron can no longer walk and has to resort to floating devices.
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French-Icelandic actor Tómas Lemarquis appears prominently in concept art as a Harkonnen soldier. Lemarquis has condition known as alopecia universalis which renders him completely hairless, which is a feature of all inhabitants of Giedi Prime in this adaptation. Dora Kápolnai-Schvab and Joelle who play the Baron's servants have the same condition. Lemarquis appeared in Denis Villeneuve's previous film Blade Runner 2049 (2017) but not in this film. Because of this, some fans have theorized that Lemarquis would play the character of Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen (who does not appear in this film) in an eventual sequel. However, this was debunked when the sequel was greenlit and Austin Butler was cast in the role.
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Originally, the movie was scripted to continue for a while after Paul and Jessica Atreides join the Fremen. However, it was decided during post-production to shift these scenes to the sequel Dune: Part Two (2023) instead.
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This is the third time that David Dastmalchian (Piter De Vries) get killed off in a Denis Villeneuve movie, after Prisoners (2013) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).
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The seemingly improbable failure of an advanced beam weapon (or "lasgun") to hit Duncan Idaho's ornithopter (at ~1hr 26min) is likely a nod to author Frank Herbert's Dune-universe physics, which have a lack of advanced targeting systems. Over 10,000 years prior to the film, tyrannical "thinking machines" (computers and artificial intelligence) dominated and enslaved mankind for almost 900 years, until they were defeated over the course of a century in an event called the Butlerian Jihad. Afterwards, such machines were outlawed in the Imperium ("Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind," a commandment established after the Jihad). Hence the appearance of "conventional" searchlights for defense, analog displays and human supercomputers ("mentats") like Thufir Hawat and Piter De Vries; some simple logic circuits and sensors, simple robotics and data storage-and-display based on new principles might be allowed, however. The scene could also be a reference to the fact that hitting an energy shield with a laser can cause a spontaneous subatomic reaction that often destroys both the target and the lasgun (and by extention, its user). Lasguns are therefore better suited for blasting up debris into low-flying aircraft.
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