One of the most eagerly-anticipated movies of 2020 — despite even the raging coronavirus pandemic — has been Dune, director Denis Villeneuve’s epic adaptation of the classic 1965 science fiction novel by Frank Herbert.
We’ve seen images from Villeneuve’s film (the first of hopefully two that will encompass the entire book), but now the first official trailer has arrived and it seems almost certain that the director of Blade Runner 2049 and Arrival has created another cinematic sci-fi masterpiece.
Watch it here!
Herbert’s original book has influenced generations of sci-fi writers and untold numbers of films and TV shows — most notably Star Wars — with its story of a far-future galactic empire in which powerful warring families battle for control of a desert planet called Arrakis, also known as Dune, the only place in the galaxy on which a substance called melange, or “the spice,” is produced.
Melange is a life-extending and mind-enhancing substance that enables those who use it to navigate through space, making the control of its production and distribution key to control over the galaxy. The Atreides family, led by Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac) is given control of Arrakis by the Emperor, who secretly plans with the rival Harkonnen clan to destroy the Atreides line in a plot to gain dominion over Arrakis.
But unforeseen to them is the rise of Leto’s young son Paul (Timothee Chalamet), who has been trained as both a warrior and in certain mystical disciplines by a secret female order called the Bene Gesserit. Paul may have powers that make him the long-prophesized messiah who will lead the desert people of Arrakis (the Fremen) into freedom and put them in control of both the spice and their own destiny.
The trailer opens with Paul dreaming of Chani (Zendaya), a Fremen woman who becomes his lover, but the scale quickly ramps up in a massive wide shot of Paul and Chani watching massive fires burning across the distant desert.
The trailer also includes a famous early scene from the book in which Paul is subjected to a test of how much pain he can stand by the Bene Gesserit’s Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam (Charlotte Rampling).
From there we meet other major characters, including Leto, his wife Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), Leto’s loyal soldiers Duncan Idaho (Jason Momoa) and Gurney Halleck (Josh Brolin) and the Fremen leader Stilgar (Javier Bardem). There are also brief glimpses of the evil Baron Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgard) and his brutal assassin Glossu “The Beast” Rabban (Dave Bautista), who lead the plot against the Atreides clan.
And for those of you unfamiliar with either the novel or its two previous adaptations — a dismal 1984 film by David Lynch and a much better 2000 miniseries on what was then known as the Sci-Fi Channel — that massive creature erupting out of the desert at the end of the trailer is one of the titanic sandworms that protect the spice and are perhaps Dune’s single most iconic image.
As you can tell from the trailer’s huge battle scenes and scope, Dune is a space opera in the classic sense. But it’s also a rich, dense, complex story about politics, religion, spirituality, ecology and whether humanity can evolve as it pushes further into the future.
Barring any delays brought on by the pandemic, Dune is set for release on December 18, 2020.