His dream project and decades in the making, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is, finally, about to arrive in UK cinemas. Starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaacs and many more, the epic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic sci-fi novel has demanded our patience thanks to pandemic pushbacks – but for Villeneuve, it required much more than that.
In an exclusive first-person piece for the issue of Empire, the director speaks about how he landed the job of putting together one of the most ambitious movies of recent years, battling the elements to shoot his film in the desert landscapes of Jordan, and how he combined his deeply personal vision of Dune with the soul of Frank Herbert’s novel.
A big decision Villeneuve made to bring the story to life – whilst still making it accessible for new audiences – was to narrow the focus, concentrating on Chalamet’s Paul Atreides and his mother, Ferguson’s Lady Jessica. “For me, it was important to bring more femininity to the story,” he says. “I am fascinated by the relationship of femininity and power, the place of women in society.”
“[Screenwriter] Eric Roth said, ‘If you had one aspect of the novel you would like me to focus on, what would it be?’ I said, ‘The women.’ The entire story unfolds because of Lady Jessica, because of a decision she made to give birth to Paul instead of a girl [via a breeding programme]. She’s a fascinating character, one of the most influential and most interesting in the novel.”
Read Denis Villeneuve’s first person piece on the making of Dune in full in the new issue of Empire, which also includes features on Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, Marvel’s Eternals and more. Find it on newsstands from Thursday 30th September, or pre-order a copy online here. Dune will be released in UK cinemas on 21st October 2021.