Dune, a Mainstream Film d’auteur

Zendaya and Timothee Chalamet in “Dune.” Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

By: Thomas Marin // Contributing Writer

As an IP (Intellectual Property), “Dune” (dir. Denis Villeneuve), which premiered Oct. 22, has always been influential. It is the mold for many science fiction works and the failure to bring this novel properly to film has been infamously documented. 

From Jodoroswky’s mythic failure to the David Lynch’s cult adaptation, “Dune” has been labeled more than once as an impossible adaptation.  

Renowned director Denis Villeneuve hasn’t ever shied away from ambitious projects. His last film, “Blade Runner 2049,” a sequel to Ridley’s Scott adored genre-establishing cyberpunk film, was made (to the anger of the more purist section of the fanbase) with no compromises to his artistic vision.    

Villeneuve has said in several interviews that adapting “Dune” is a passion project, and that he shares a connection to the original material since he was a teenager. 

He has also explained that his teenage self is hard to please but is confident he has the resources to adapt the unfilmable.

One aspect Villeneuve’s “Dune” has in its favor is that it has an incredibly talented cast, which includes Timothée Chalamet (young protagonist Paul Atreides) and Zendaya (Chani). 

During a roundtable discussion last week they both spoke about how the younger section of the audience (to which “Dune” might be unknown) can relate to the film. 

Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides walking along a beach. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. 

“I think Paul’s circumstances can be otherworldly, however, he is just a young man struggling with his identity, the way he is, and who he is to himself and his loved ones,” states Chalamet when asked about his character.

Despite the relative strangeness of the setting, Zendaya said she found her character, Chani, relatable because “there is a deeper wisdom to her,” she states. “ She has that wise spirit that comes from working in an adult space from a young age.”  

According to the young stars, the adaptation, despite its size and the expectations around it, does not compromise its dramatic integrity or its ambition. 

It is the hope of its stars, production team, and director that you go see for yourselves whether “Dune” is as hypnotic and enchanting as its budget has set it out to be. 

“To get to work with Denis Villenue, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Jason Momoa… Some of the most talented and strongest actors right now is a dream come true and something that I would do again in a heartbeat,”  said Chalamet.

Critics and fans of the saga will probably be delighted by this adaptation. However, the success of the film lies with the rest of the audience,  and whether they chose to embrace or reject the new paradigm that this film is set out to be.  

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