Since wowing filmgoers with his suffocatingly tense action crime drama Sicario, Denis Villeneuve has proven himself as Hollywood’s smartest director of spectacular science-fiction, first with Arrival and then with Blade Runner 2049. So who better to take on Frank Herbert’s Dune, the Holy Grail of sci-fi literature that influenced everything from Star Wars to Game Of Thrones?
A tale of dynasties, destinies, armies, freedom fighters, psychotropic spice and colossal sandworms that is set, for the most part, on the desert planet of Arrakis in a galaxy far, far away, Dune promises to blend heart-squeezing drama with vast visuals that’ll blow you out of your space boots. And if the thought of watching 750ft beasts erupt from parched landscapes to devour bands of humans whole isn’t enough to get you excited, how about this cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Zendaya, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, Stellan Skarsgård, Javier Bardem and Charlotte Rampling.
Below you can see exclusive images courtesy of Total Film magazine, which features Dune on its upcoming cover. They feature Chalamet in action mode as hero Paul Atreides, fighting for his life as his mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) watches on; Oscar Isaac as Paul’s father Duke Leto, on the planet of Caladan as he and House Atreides welcome an arriving messenger; and Villeneuve directing Zendaya, who plays Chani, a mysterious woman who Paul has long had visions of.
For Villeneuve, directing Dune is a long-cherished dream having read the book as a 14-year-old. In fact, he so warmed to the tome’s philosophical, spiritual and ecological themes, he considered it something of a guide to life.
“I’m still deeply moved to have had the chance to tackle this dream, to play with this dream, to go back to this dream,” he tells Total Film. “It was, by far, the toughest thing I’ve done, but there are deep pleasures when there are images that you’re able to achieve that are close to what you had in mind as a teenager.”
Chalamet was well aware that he was charged with bringing his director’s visions to life. “Denis said to me [Paul Atreides] was the character he saw his tortured adolescence through, and a figure for him to escape through,” says the actor.
But if that was a scary responsibility, it was nothing compared to the fear that thrummed through Villeneuve’s every molecule as he faced up to the scale of the world-building that was required and the depth of the interior lives he must capture.
“I have some kind of a self-destructive device inside me to take projects that are out of my reach,” he says, acknowledging that Dune is another gargantuan undertaking after taking on the belated sequel to Ridley Scott’s revered Blade Runner. But in those moments of uncertainty he would turn to a mantra from the book that shaped his adolescence: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.”
Dune is scheduled to open in US cinemas and on HBO Max on October 22. It will open in UK cinemas on October 21. For much more on the film, including interviews with all of the starry cast, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film when it hits shelves on Friday, August 20. Check out the new cover below, as well as the cover of the special supplement that comes with the issue.
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